Mint Records Ridiculously Early X-Mas Party @ The Biltmore -- 12/03/10

Last night was my third year running attending the Mint Records Ridiculously Early X-Mas party. I was one of the first 75 people in, meaning I got a free prize! My draw ended up being a prize pack that consisted of... a girls M shirt and underpants. So I was able to trade it for another one, a box of giant pocky! And since they are always sponsored by pocky, for some reason, there was free packages of pocky sticks all around the room.

Like every year, they crammed a good number of bands into several hours, each playing short(ish) sets, so for the sake of not writing an essay (and my sanity), I'll try to only do a few lines for each set.

Laura Barrett: The only act on the bill not on Mint Records, she started off alone with a kalimba instrumental, "to get us used to it" and played a few songs with only the kalimba before a couple more came out to back her up on & off. She had a great stage presence, and though I had only heard a few of her songs before, I quite liked her set -- even if a few of the songs got a little repetitive, with just a kalimba. I would really like to see her again, and wonder what she would sound like with a full backing band.

Geoff Berner: Was just himself and an accordion. He was a little offputting at first, but once you realised what he was doing, his songs did grow on you; it helped that a lot of them were funny, or had stories woven around them. While a couple were a bit... less good than others, there were a couple that were pretty hilarious Ambiguous Lyrics and Half German Girlfriens sticking out. His last song, too, which was a duet with Carolyn Mark.

Kellarissa: Had seen at last years party, and while I only vaguely remember her set, I do not remember disliking it this much. I am normally a fan of looping, but that didn't help when the vocals were occasionally atonal yelling and the synth was kind of piercing.

fanshaw: Was one of the acts I was really looking forward to, and transitioned the show from acts which were a bit more low key to the more high energy ones. The first song was just Olivia Fetherstonhaughalone, but her full band (which included Shane Turner) came out right after. She mentioned it was their last show in a while, I think to write new material, so they were just up there to have fun. The set was quite good, and aside from her own songs, they ended with a pair of covers; "Love Hurts" and Cohen's "Passing Through"

Carolyn Mark: The other act I was really looking forward to came out and really kicked the energy into high gear. I've only seen her at the last couple Mint parties, and I really liked her. She has a bit of a country twang, but excellent voice to back it up, and the rest of her band were pretty great as well. I really hope I don't have to wait until next years party before seeing her live again.

Hot Panda: I've seen them at a few Mint related events, and while I have liked their sets in the past, I was never really able to get into them too much. However, maybe it was the new material, but I enjoyed their set a heck of a lot better this time around. The band is so enthusiastic on stage and just creates an infectious atmosphere. They also covered Mr Grinch, which, come on, is awesome.

The Evaporators: While I am not really sure their music is something I would listen to on a regular basis, they are fun as hell to watch, thanks to Nardwuar. He was running around the stage, into the audience, crowd surfing multiple times -- even with his keyboard. He also had most of the people in front singing along, admitting they were "Addicted to Cheese". For the last song, Kyprios made a surprise appearance for "I Don't Need My Friends", and the two of them ran through the crowd, making sure everyone in the room got crouched down, to jump right back up, before being carried off by the fans.

While I think I have liked past years lineups better, once things got going a bit, it was a fantastic show. There are still maybe a little too many bands playing; even though the seven bands all played shorter sets, the show did drag on a couple times, and went until just about 2am. But that said, I am still very much looking forward to next years event.