The Fuckin' Blind Shake:


I first encountered the Blind Shake in 2003. Specifically, I remember it was November 1st, as I was packing a pretty serious post-Halloween hangover.

I was pulling a shift at the record store where I was working part-time. Three very polite, very intense young men came in and spent several minutes browsing the vinyl racks and becoming visibly and audibly excited at anything AmRep related ("Dope Guns And Fucking Volume Four!" "Awesome!") or that John Reis played on, ("Hot Charity on vinyl!" "Whoa!") it became pretty apparent that they were from out of town. Or it might have been the adorable Midwestern accents.

Jim, Mike, and Dave introduced themselves. The Blind Shake. From Minneapolis. A couple weeks prior they had mailed the store a couple pretty out-there felt pen drawings. I forget exactly what they were of, but I do remember that they were crude and childlike and vaguely unsettling with "THE BLIND SHAKE + LANDS FARTHER EAST NOV. 1 BELLINGHAM" written in the middle. We hung one up. How could you not?

We chatted for a few minutes and they invited me to their show later that night. I figured that they seemed like nice kids and they bought cool records, and Lands Farther East were one of the better things going on in Bellingham at the time. Okay. Fuck it. Twist my arm.

They didn't have their aesthetic or sound totally dialed in at the time. They were still a very good band, but I was only afforded a glimpse of what was to come two short years later. At the time, The Blind Shake were trading in jerky, jangly, almost playful mid-tempo post-punk.

After their next tour was cancelled by their van falling off of a tow truck and creaming a parked car in NYC, I finally saw the Blind Shake again in 2005 after they released their debut full-length, Rizzograph. The best stylistic comparisons I can make to their early demos and 7-inchers is some weird, reverb-drenched Polvo/Braniac hybrid. Rizzograph's nineteen minutes brought to mind a whole new scorched-earth Billy Childish-meets-Hammerhead fucking blast.

The stylistic shifts on Rizzograph manifested themselves in the live show as well: The band was tighter and fiercer, and neither their live shows or subsequent records lasted much more than twenty minutes. From this point on (I saw the band about six or seven times over the next four years), I never saw the Blind Shake deliver a show that was anything less than 100% apeshit, bug-eyed, absolutely bonkers. They were like the A Frames on PCP. In contrast, the band seemed even gentler and less intense offstage. Jim, Mike, and Dave are always genuinely happy to see everyone they run across, and they hardly swear, let alone drink. I dunno if it's the outfits they change into before they play, but once they hit the stage, it's like a light switches on and these nice Midwestern boys become the meanest motherfuckers ever, blast through eight ninety-second haymakers, kick the drums over, and mere minutes later the duct-taped jackets are off and the three are back to their good-natured selves. The Blind Shake are on some serious Jekyll and Hyde shit.

The last time I saw the Blind Shake was in 2009, when they were supporting their latest collaboration with Michael Yonkers, Cold Town/Soft Zodiac. They've recently finished their first proper full-length since 2007's Carmel, and it is one of my most anticipated releases of 2011. This show is also one of my most anticipated of the year, and if you know what's good for you, it'll be one of yours too.

The Blind Shake are playing The Comet Tavern with Virgin Islands, Battle Hymns, and What What Now on Saturday, February 5th. 21+