What a way to ring in a 21st birthday. It’s not every day that the opening act on a three-band bill (and the only local band in the lineup, to boot) gets such a reaction from the crowd that they’re asked to play a mini-encore. But that’s just what happened last night, as Wiping Out Thousands vocalist Alaine Dickman announced that she was enjoying her “second ever legal adult beverage” on stage while she and bandmate Taylor Nelson played an enthralling set opening for YACHT.
Moving around the room as they played, I couldn’t help but overhear mutterings of “Who is this band?” and “What a voice!” from several attendees. Their talent was clear from the first song; Nelson (who also plays in the New Monarchs) alternated between a laptop, synth, and electric guitar, kicking up jagged beats that ranged from electro-pop to industrial to dubstep while Dickman used three separate microphones to project her stunning, clarion voice, turning knobs to drop in buzzy, distorted vocal processing. The effect was mesmerizing, to say the least, and made for a more focused, sharp-edged sound than a lot of the electro-pop projects gigging around the Twin Cities these days. When asked about how their sound fits into the electro scene here, the band replied that “We love ’80s prom music as much as the next guy (or girl), but it’s time for Minneapolis’ balls to drop,” a sideways jab at groups like Gayngs but also an assertion that they are consciously trying something different.
The experience at last night’s show got me thinking about something I’d read from Jay Gabler recently who, in his review of Polica’s CD-release show, supposed that the “New Minneapolis Sound” being developed that can be described as “a languid, atmospheric, surging sound that merges elements of ’70s and ’80s pop with 21st century electronic experimentation.” It’s a compelling argument and one that was echoed in another Polica piece today, this one from across the pond in the Guardian: “There would appear to be something of a scene in Minneapolis,” Paul Lester writes, “comprising musicians who ordinarily might have drifted towards Americana or alt rock but who, perhaps because of the Twin Cities’ history as nexus of pop, soul, new wave, funk and rock, have been encouraged to use a blend of electronics and olde worlde instrumentation to effect a new kind of leftfield R&B.” It’s something that I’ve been pondering a lot in this new year, and something I touched on briefly in a piece I wrote about Father You See Queen and other like-minded groups bridging the noise-experimental-pop gap, but with this new discovery of Wiping Out Thousands and the new songs by Aby Wolf ringing in my ears I think we’re really onto something here.
So combine that trend of more adventurous, feminine electro-pop with the mainstream music industry’s newfound appreciation for ’90s EDM and, yes, that much buzzed-about genre of dubstep, and you are getting close to imagining the sound created by Wiping Out Thousands. Or better yet, check out their debut EP, which is streaming over on their site, along with some teaser videos. And if the overwhelmingly positive reaction at last night’s show was any indication, get ready to hear a whole lot more about this burgeoning band.