This past weekend I was down in the Willmar area, and after a day on the lake we headed to a local establishment for some cold ones and some tunes. We have all seen small, local bands at bars, sloppily trying to make their way through covers of classic rock. Most of these local bands have two goals; the first, make it through their gig without forgetting the words to Jessie's Girl ("That's why I wish I had Jackie's gir...aw crap..."), the second is to run up the free bar tab as high as possible. Unfortunately, these bands don't realize that it is nearly impossible to carry out both goals on the same night without one ruining the other if accomplished. The band I saw on Saturday night didn't have this problem.
The band was Monkey Gene and the four young men, lead singer Kyle, Steve on guitar, bass (and part-time rapper) Phil, and drummer Dom were polished and in tune with each other at a level you rarely see at a local bar with no cover charge. Monkey Gene is a rock group, on this night outside of playing some of their original songs (see below), they played mainly 90's rock ranging from Foo Fighters to Metallica to Queens of the Stone Age (I know not 90's) with a little rock take on Snoop's Gin and Juice thrown in (that's where Phil took the mic).
Based out of Willmar, Minnesota, Monkey Gene is still looking to record their first album and get some stuff done in the studio, for now touring around the local establishments and music festivals is where you will hear them. I bring them up to you all because I was thoroughly impressed by their skills.
Kyle is a great rock singer, with range and stage presence that was great to watch and listen to. Steve ripped through guitar solos with ease and if anything left you wanting more them thrown in. Phil was great on the bass, and then stepped up and did a great job of gettin his Gin n' Juice on. Then there is Dom, with his hair flying around as he just beat the living daylights out of his drums. In summary, these dudes rock and they rock hard. It's fun to watch.
Finally the thing that surprised me the most was their original songs. Again, cover bands often will throw in their original songs into sets and this usually leads to the rush to the bar by the crowd to take a break from listening as the band entertains only themselves playing a song nobody in the bar knows or wants to listen to. Monkey Gene wasn't like that. Their original stuff had energy and made you want to listen, even if you were heading to the bar to grab another brew. Unfortunately they don't have their music out there in a format for your consumption other than some recordings on Youtube. I look forward to hearing their stuff when they do eventually put out an album.
For now, check out these videos of a couple of their original songs (per usual the audio quality on a handheld recording isn't the best but it gives you a taste of what they are about):
(For some reason everyone felt compelled to walk right in front of the stage...not sure what was up with that)
Check out their Facebook page and see if you can catch them playing live around you.