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SXSW Music Preview: Tapes ‘N Tapes at the Jackpot Music Hall

March 5, 2011

I owe Tapes ‘N Tapes an apology. I was quite a fan of the bands 2005 initially self released debut full length The Loon. After their initial success on that album, which was propelled by music blogs across the net the band quickly signed with XL Recordings who would quickly re-release The Loon. Three years later their first, and only recording under XL would appear with 2008′s Walk it Off. I don’t honestly remember hearing anything off of it. Part of this may be due to the fact that when it hit the buzz around it never quite attained the levels of The Loon.

It seemed that Tapes ‘N Tapes were thrown into the pile around that time that consisted of many other indie bands that arrived on the scene with self made albums in the early aughts. They were labeled as something between one hit wonder, and sophomore slump. I’ll never quite be sure if it was fair to the bands that seemed to suffer this fate. Their story seems common. Band shows up young and spunky with a fresh sound. The proper channels start talking about them and within in a year they are signed to a major label and the pressures that come with it. Three years after what in retrospect now seems like an apt title on Walk it Off, and six after The Loon Tapes ‘N Tapes are back again touring in support of their January self release of their latest full length Outside.

On their way to SXSW 2011 the band stopped by Lawrence, KS for a tech challenged show at the Jackpot Music Hall on an evening that had a chill to it that should be somewhat familiar to the Minneapolis based quartet.

The band took the stage shortly after elven in the narrow, red and dark Jackpot. A mix of college aged kids from the local colleges and a mix of adults beyond the typical college age filled the very hot hall. This was one of those shows where you wear a coat in and wished you had shorts and a t-shirt on during the show.

Tapes 'N Tapes at the Jackpot

The band was immediately met with tech issues during their quick soundcheck before getting started as keyboardist and multi-instrumentalist Matt Kretzman had to give up his microphone for bassist Erik Appelwick. After jumping into their set the band seemed to suffer from several issues. Feed back, a bad mix, a bad amp and non working monitors. as guitarist and lead vocalist Josh Grier remarked the venue name was living up to its billing in one of his brief engagements with the crowd. “Lets hope for more rocking less talking” he quipped. I know my hearing isn’t near what it used to be but I marked several times in my notes that the vocals could stand to be turned up.

The tech issues didn’t seem to be detracting from either the bands effort or the crowds enthusiasm for the show. A small dance floor had formed out in front of the stage as Tapes ‘N Tapes played with an authentic passion that isn’t always found in todays music market. This was a passion of a cohesive unit that loved what they were doing and really transfered that message from the stage.  Tapes ‘N Tapes have a bit heavier rock edge in a live setting than they do on record. This doesn’t detract for the dance worthiness of their songs which has had them compared to the Pixies, and Pavement and their modern contemporaries in Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Considering the issues the band encountered they played on and seemingly made the best of the situation they were presented with. Their set list brought a nice mix of old and new in their near hour and forty minute playing time.

After seeing Tapes ‘N Tapes in a live environment I owe the band an apology for  having played a lemming and abandoning them with the release of Walk it Off. After their live performance in Lawrence  I may have to stuff them in to an already crowded SXSW schedule.


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