Getting to shows early always makes me feel weird and a little anxious — the awkwardness of being alone seems heightened in a lonely room, but that wasn’t the case for Mint Record’s Ridiculously Early Xmas Party. Pushing open the door, I was immediately greeted by of a queue of people waiting eagerly to see if they were one of the first thirty to arrive early enough to score a free tote and a new Mint Records compilation tape. It was refreshing to see people make an effort to arrive on time for a show.
It began rather abruptly, when Chris-a-riffic!, the night’s host, came on and began shouting about the ludicrous amount of balloons that engulfed the small stage. He got the crowd laughing with a story about how the opener, Aaron Read, gave his daughter a concussion.
Aaron Read was excellent — with his layers of gorgeous drum beats and dreamy guitar licks, I found myself feeling much more relaxed, and the crowd seemed to feel the same. I couldn’t help but make the connection to David Byrne when I watched Read’s vocal delivery, which was jaunty and whimsical. What was funny was his bashful confession of his use of the same drum beat through every single song, but his impeccable guitar playing made up for it.
After some sing alongs facilitated by the host who eagerly engaged the crowd with giveaways and offbeat banter, Fake Tears took to the stage. I was immediately drawn to this band’s heavy synth pop vibe, sounding similar to Bronski Beat — it was a dramatic switch from what we all just experienced. The duo set up side by side in front of a synthesizer and sang off into the distance with ethereal vocals and beautiful harmonies. That being said, I felt myself getting lost into the heavy drum beats. I was jerked out of this trance when the balloons, hung with such care, began popping during their set, sending the crowd into an uproar of laughter.
Jay Arner was third, and, as always, it was a pleasure to watch this band of well versed musicians join the stage together. His usual upbeat tunes were crowd pleasers and perhaps it was the inevitable progression of the evening, but people began to dance. Arner admitted to crowd he wasn’t feeling so hot, but that didn’t seem to stop his performance. There was a general air of lightheartedness, as Arner’s music filled the room — it felt like people were among friends.
Faith Healer, the fourth act, left the audience breathless. A solo act, with the presence of classics such as, Emmylou Harris, but the sensibilities of Sera Cahoone, enveloped us with her honest voice and poetic sensibilities. A true singer-songwriter wouldn’t be complete without a slightly awkward, yet engaging stage presence, and Faith Healer owned these qualities. As she ended her set early, her humbleness was met with several spectators urging her to play more, which she thankfully obliged.
The final two acts, Supermoon and Woolworm, brought with them a surge of energy. Hardly a surprise, since these are two well loved bands. Supermoon, with their fast paced, sugary sweet rock and drawling vocals lit up the room. The band members took turns singing, each with their own style, which made for a unique and dynamic performance, not unlike Vivian Girls.
Then there was Woolworm, hard rocking and full of angst. Their set was tight and full of dramatic, fuzzy guitars and driving bass — enough to send me spinning around, shouting along to every word. I was pleasantly surprised to see so many people join in as they closed with “Heathen Too.” A great ending to an excellent line-up, and a night full of music admirers and friends alike.