69 Eyes – Fine Line – Minneapolis MN – January 30th 2020

The 69 Eyes – Fine Line Music Cafe – January 30th, 2020

Review and photos by Paul Allen

The Crowned – 

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that this is about the best opening band in a 4 band lineup (that isn’t some sort of festival) as you’re gonna find.  The Crowned hit the stage at 7:30 sharp and made sure everyone knew they were from Texas (implying how they felt about single digit temperatures). Not being well versed in the offerings of this band, the first thing that popped into my head is “Oh, here we go, what kind of Panteraesque sound are you bringing with you?”.  Happy to say, that while they’re proud Texans, they’ve found their own sound to effectively promote themselves with. They fit the bill really well with dark grinding riffs, ultra fast speed breaks and the occasional scrowl – part scream, part growl, pretty unusual vocal stylings from vocalist Marc Coronado. That wasn’t the only trick up Marc’s sleeve though.  Turns out, he’s also the band’s drummer. There are not many groups who’s drummer is also their lead singer. This made for a great stage arrangement with the drum set up front and the rest of the band on the periphery. The Crowned has some clear influences and familiar sounds that will make them fit into most alternative/goth metalhead’s library. There are some elements of similarity with bands like Atreyu and Cradle of Filth (maybe a hint of Type-O Negative), but a rhythm and crunch that is all their own.

Sumo Cyco – 

Holy crap, what a fun little bundle of energy this set was.  There’s really no other way to put it. As I listened to a few songs earlier in the week to become familiar with this band, I just didn’t get it.  What I was missing was the live element. Almost like seeing them live is their version of explaining it to me, and by goodness, I got it. Describing their music style is a bit of a daunting task.  It is just really really hard to do and I don’t want to do them any injustice by describing it incorrectly. If I were forced to, I’d describe it as a well blended and consistent mix of: Dance, Metal, Djent, Pop, Punk, Bubblegum and some secret ingredient I just can’t put my finger on, but I know the taste.  The charisma that lead singer Skye Sweetnam and guitarist Matt Drake bring to the show is incredible. Their stage presence is much larger than you’d expect from 3rd bill in a 4 band lineup. From Skye leaving the stage to sing/dance on the bar to riding on Matt’s shoulder (while they were both performing) in the crowd, this band was by far the most crowd interactive set I may have ever seen.  Add to that the antics and constant smile of the drummer, this kid was unreal. I’ve never seen anyone enjoy their job as much as this guy. He was having the time of his life and it was impossible not to share that feeling with him. While Sumo Cyco has a nearly indescribable sound, which is wholly their own, they don’t leave the crowd far behind with it. They did a cover of BYOB from System of a Down just to make sure they had their hooks into the crowd and to keep everything relatable.  The best way to describe their set would be if you could ask a fan what their ideal set would look/sound like, captured that and executed it flawlessly. This was a crazy fun set and way beyond my expectations for this band. Should I find another tour that they are a part of, it will certainly draw my interest to attend.

Wednesday 13 – 

I’m trying to figure out how to write this one without taking on the fanboy perspective.  Forget it, I’m biased, what follows is 100% influenced by my pure enjoyment of all that is Wednesday 13.  To say that knowing that I was going to see Wednesday 13 again got me out of bed yesterday would be both understated and a lie.  Truth is, Wednesday 13 has been a part of my daily life for the last year. Whether it is battling my way through traffic, culling and editing photos or just playing in the background while making dinner, Wednesday 13 is pretty much an ever-present facet of my daily life.  To be fair, they aren’t the only band that cycles through my playlists daily, but they are certainly there… daily. That being said, you can imagine my level of expectation for this show and the ease in which I could have left disappointed. Let’s just say, I’m not at all disappointed and my expectations have been solidly met.  Most of the set was dedicated to promoting the new album Necrophase, but there were a couple of older songs like “Get Your Grave On” and “Keep Watching the Skies” that just sparked the crowd into a frenzy. As can be expected from a Wednesday 13 show, all band members were in full makeup and costume and lead singer Wednesday 13 went through several costume changes throughout the show.  That’s one of the great spectacles of seeing one of their shows, the songs are presented by a given character (although I couldn’t name them off) and it’s all part of a much bigger story. That doesn’t take away from the quality or performance of each individual song, just adds more to the story. All in all, two days ago, if I’d won the lottery and decided to keep a band on retainer to play whenever I wanted, it would have been Wednesday 13.  I’m happy to say that after the show last night, I can positively affirm exactly the same sentiment. The level of showmanship, the quality of the live performance and the perceptible passion that goes into the whole creative process is exactly what will keep me coming back to see Wednesday 13 every chance I get.

The 69 Eyes – 

Although this band has been around for a long long time (since 1989!), I hadn’t heard of them prior to the announcement of this show.  So, as per usual, I headed to the great video index that is YouTube and did some researching prior to the show. What I found through listening through a handful of their songs is they have a very Type-O Negative type of sound.  It isn’t identical (think if Type-O Negative did a Glam Rock Vegas lounge show), but it is certainly from the same vein. Not being the biggest fan of Type-O Negative, I found that I had the same lackluster appreciation for The 69 Eyes.  Still, I stuck around for this band with an open mind and a deep seeded hope that they’d win me over with their live show. Sadly, they didn’t, but that doesn’t mean they put on a “bad set” by any means. There was a lot to appreciate about their set and for fans of this band, I’m certain they got the exact show they came to see.  The 69 eyes sounded great with no perceptible issues on stage during their performance. It was well lit, well times and just an overall no nonsense “we’re gonna rock your socks off” kind of show. The stage at the Fine Line Music Cafe is pretty small and I think the band would have preferred a little more elbow room and then we’d have seen a much more dynamic show with a few more lights and special effects.  If I were a fan of this band, I very likely would have been satisfied with the opportunity to have seen them live and happily paid the reasonable ticket price ($25 or $40 with meet and greet).

Overall, this show was fantastic and still more than I expected.  The Fine Line Music Cafe is a great venue for shows. With the small stage and the second level viewing ares, this venue forces a perspective that no other venue can.  It is impossible to stuff the drummer in the back and hide them. In fact, it is very hard to hide anyone on this stage and chances are, no matter who you’re coming to see, you want the whole band experience.  Very easy to deliver on that at The Fine Line Music Cafe. This isn’t the biggest venue and can get a little crowded, but it isn’t so small that it is uncomfortable.