There are plenty of cities with noteworthy music scenes, but few have a sense of allegiance that is comparable to Minneapolis. Three-piece band and Minnesota natives, Strange Names, achieved a solid following in their home city before seeking out another challenge in New York. Since their move, the band has quickly managed to navigate their way through vast and highly competitive creative territory.
Last weekend the band headlined a free show at Baby’s All Right following the release of their debut LP, Use Your Time Wisely. Like most celebratory shows, the majority of the crowd was familiar with Strange Names, and would bustle with recognition after hearing the first few notes of a song, repeatedly indicating that their latest album had won the approval of fans. As a Brooklyn music staple, Baby’s All Right is the kind of venue that is perfectly suited for an album release show, especially for a band like Strange Names. It maintains a unique balance between sociability and the sense of exciting anonymity you feel when attending a live show.
The band opened with a fan favorite, “Trespassing” and the tone set by Strange Names became immediately infectious. Most of the tracks off their latest LP are 80’s inspired, synth heavy dance songs, with both subtle and overt manipulation of Liam Benzvi’s vocals. Toward the end of their set, the band performed the single “Ricochet,” which was by far the most energetic and dance worthy song of the evening.
Strange Names is colorful in every sense of the word, their character as a group as well as their individual demeanors seem to favor the eye catching, the pretty and the avant-garde. Lead singer and keyboardist Liam Benzvi, performed several songs while sporting a pair of glow in the dark goggles and at one point, he suggestively fell to his knees in front of the bands guitarist, Francis Ximenez. The bassist juxtaposed their exhibitionism with long blond hair, big round sunglasses and a quiet cool reminiscent to a Warholian factory boy. At a live show, it seems like Strange Names seek to do more than simply play music and they expertly put on performances that will challenge our ideas of art, gender and sexuality. Whether that be by flirting with each other, with their audience or with more than a single musical genre, the band gives New York City something to see and Minneapolis something to be proud of.
Article: Lea Weatherby