On Christmas of 1993 or 1994, I received a compact disc, that disc was Grave Dancers Union. I was 12 or 13 years old, didn’t know Soul Asylum was local, but I knew the song “Runaway Train”. I also knew about this song because the video was very serious and was a stark reminder of events only a few years earlier. On October 22nd of 1989, a boy named Jacob Wetterling was kidnapped in St Joseph, MN while biking with his brother and a friend. St Joseph was about an hour from where I lived at the time, which was way too close for comfort. This changed a lot of things in my neighborhood, as the kidnapper and Jacob were never found.
Fast forward to July 20th, 2012 at First Avenue, I finally had the chance to take in a Soul Asylum concert. I had witnessed lead singer Dave Pirner in less than glorious solo performances at a fundraiser for his friend and did not know what to expect from the band as a whole. I had extremely high hopes as I have been listening to their music for 18 years.
I left work at 8PM and made it to First Ave with 15 minutes before opener Crankstaft was to go on, but there was a problem: I wasn’t on the list. Let me give you all a few pieces of advice at this point if this happens to you:
- Don’t get angry or verbally abusive toward the will-call agent. He’s doing the best with what he has been given and you’ll more than likely be going back to that venue for other shows (I had one the next night).
- Always have proof of the pass you were expecting to have waiting for you (emails, communications).
- Be persistent.
After twenty minutes of calls, emails, tweets and not being a pain in the ass, I got the thumbs up to get my pass.
Crankshaft was on stage, rocking out with two other people in stage, not the typical one-man-band approach that I have usually seen him use in the past. I will say it has been a little while since I have caught his live show. As per the usual, the crowd had some head bobbing going on, and cheering after each song, but participation was low. This was not for lack of effort on the band’s part. If you didn’t get the urge to boogie down while taking in this band’s bluesy sound, you must be from the midwest and there to see Soul Asylum. It can also be referred to as the “opening-band curse”.
Opening with a cover of “Your Generation”, and then right into one of my favorites “Just Like Anyone”, Dave and crew blew me away! Under the hot First Ave lights (thank you for not installing wretched LED lights), the first three songs were full of vigor and camera-loving moves. Singing along while shooting and sharing a smile with the other photographers in the pit, it was a beautiful moment and one of the reasons I love what I get to do.
Several songs were greeted with cheers, whistles, and sing-a-longs, most from Grave Dancers Union. Also, this was the first show I have been to at First Avenue since they upgraded their sound system over a month ago in the main room, and it sounded ridiculously great! I did notice a few hiccups during “Runaway Train”, but they could have also been slight changes in the song tempo, as I am sure a band likes to add a little flair to a song they have been singing for 20+ years.
Soul Asylum Set List:
Just Like Anyone
A Little Too Clean
Ran Off and Left Her
By The Way
Love Will Tear Us Apart
Into the Light
Did My Best
Without A Trace
Closer to the Stars
Attacking the Beat
Somebody to Shove
Stand Up and Be Strong
Into My Arms
Misery (listed, but not played)