“I like to celebrate [the 26th] every month, because I like to celebrate things,” Bailey “26” Cogan said from under a red cowboy hat at Icehouse last night. Yet this fifth-from-last day of Dec. 2018 was no ordinary 26th. Last night, 26 BATS! performed the final show of the Kremblems’ collective residency and dropped their second album, Onyx. It’s a tight, sticky effort named after an energy-protecting stone, and it rocks: reason for extra-special celebration, for sure.
Cogan and their band – Karl Remus on guitar/vocals, Warren Thomas Fenzi on drums, Daniel Chavez on trumpet, and Christian Wheeler on bass – headlined, looking comfortable and competent throughout their jazzy set. Cogan started the show on keyboards before moving downstage-left, channeling their radiant energy into platform-booted kicks and jumps. Minneapolis trumpeter DeCarlo Jackson, who has performed with Hippo Campus and Nazeem & Spencer Joles, joined 26 BATS! for four songs.
Much will be made of Daniel Chavez’s trumpet, an eager ray of zazz in the fray. Much will be made of Cogan’s strong vocals, especially liable to pierce you on the high notes. But I want to call attention to Christian Wheeler’s bass work, most visible on “Do What You Do.” This week, Cogan told City Pages that Onyx is a more focused album than 26 BATS!’s debut Cave Cuts. If that’s true, it seems to have a lot to do with how dialed in the band is on the low end. Cave song “Guilty” opens with a more sluggish bass riff, pairing with the troubled tone of the song. But “Do What You Do” (from Onyx) uses bass to suck you in; Wheeler is relentless with the groove, only letting go for a brief time signature switch-up.
The album’s 26-minute runtime made for a short set, as 26 BATS! played Onyx front-to-back and added just two songs from Cave Cuts: “Teriyaki Sundress” and “Touch Mai Face.” That was fine, as the show began an hour late and wrapped up past midnight; add another lovely late-night show to the Icehouse annals.
Dua Saleh’s opening set muddled their bold vocals with dark, elegant beats – most made by Minneapolis producer Psymun. Like Cogan, Saleh has a gorgeous voice, theirs tough and grainy like knotted wood. They’ve only released scattered singles thus far, including the colorful “First Take,” which landed well with the Icehouse crowd. But they unveiled music including “Warm Pants” and “Kickflip” from their upcoming EP Nūr, which drops on Jan. 3., plus songs with lyrics in Spanish and Arabic.
26 BATS! Set List
Do What You Do
Call Me Daddy
Touch Mai Face