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Review Tue Oct 21 2014

Schubas Swooned For John Mark Nelson and Kara Laudon

kara loudin.jpgThis past Friday I was supposed to go see Haley Bonar at Schubas. Earlier that morning on her Facebook page she announced that she would not be able to perform that evening due to laryngitis. With an upcoming tour in Europe, it made sense for her to rest up. While such news is usually a downer, Bonar had luckily announced that the show was going to be carried on by her opener John Mark Nelson and Kara Laudon. I was only slightly familiar with Nelson and Laudon's music, but after a second or two of hearing them perform I knew that Bonar had left Chicago in the amazing hands of two wonderful musicians

Kara Laudon, who plays in John Mark Nelson's band, was astonishing. She came to stage describing her nervousness about performing her own work, something she wasn't expecting to do that night. Any thought of nervousness easily drifted away the moment her voice emerged shimmering across "Idea of You", a declaration of leaving a relationship founded on a presumed impression that elegantly moved its way around Schubas. Laudon was captivating, softly strumming as her voice "Yeah, it's about boy, I guess" she quietly asserted at the song's end, amidst a crowd that had already fallen for her.

kara loudin2.jpgLaudon tested out new songs including a couple songs with John Mark Nelson, who urged the announcement of Laudon's upcoming full length album which Nelson would produce. Laudon spoke quickly about it before going back to leave the focus on her songs. If anything, Laudon's nervousness from earlier in the show was a genuine modesty over her fantastic songwriting. "Because what I want I don't think I deserve to have" was a line that stood out in one of her new songs about being afraid to do things. Fortunately Laudon didn't give in to anything less the amazing, especially during her cover of Feist's "Brandy Alexander". It's safe to say Laudon left the stage with a room full of new fans.

John Mark Nelson arrived with a full band in tow: Kara Laudon returned to play keys, Nate Babbs on drums, Benjamin Kelly on bass, and Steve Bosmans on an electric guitar. They started off the set with "Home", blending its acoustic and electric elements together in a whimsical fashion as they would for the entire set. Nelson's interesting arrangements where also introduced here with his endearing cadence flowing into the nuanced chorus. It was a warm and welcoming start to the set. A few songs later Nelson took a moment to explain Bonar's absence and the crowd at Schubas was more than understanding, appreciatively accepting Nelson as headliner.

jmn1.jpgNelson's sound is planted firmly in the indie folk realm, but ton of little notes are taken from vast genres. Some songs have a very strong western influence while others verge on bluesy or rock hinged tunes. The beginning of the new song "A Hundred Orchards" starts off with an animated rocking edge that find itself sneaking up along every once in a while throughout the song. The intro to "What Did I Find?" puts a strong focus on drums and bass before letting Nelson's voice rise up in a heavenly tone. In contrast to that aspect of Nelson's voice is intoxicating effect he creates when he lowers his singing voice to a near croon. "Boy" in particular was the first to employ that effect, emphasizing the songs lovely coming of age lyrics.

One of the biggest highlights of the night was "Truly You", a song originally written for an intimate house show put on by Sofar Sounds. It's a very soft and emotional duet between Nelson and Laudon that has a very different from the rest of the set. Many of Nelson's songs find themselves spanning from far off eras than our own, imposing a sense of antiquity on the very fresh compositions. "Truly You" stand as the best example of that, with Laudon and Nelson's harmonizing feeling like a song passed down through the generations. The band followed that up with "The Moon and Stars", which really showed the band putting the emphasis on the guitars at work, dazzling the crowd and getting them moving and dancing along with the night.

jmn2.jpg"Rain Come Down" had the band and crowd at their most lively. The song has a completely different vibe live, infusing an explosive energy from Nelson and co. with Nelson describing the song as having a boogie woogie beat. Couples in the audience began dancing around the Schubas floor again while the band blazed through the song with utter excitement. Nelson requested for a little smoke to up the atmosphere even more. The set came to a close with Nelson standing on his own for the encore, affectionately covering "Fools Rush In (Where Angels Fear to Tread)". It was a nice ending note to an inspired night of Minneapolis musicians.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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