Cigarettes After Sex Sells Out The Armory

Cigarettes After Sex at The Armory in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Thursday, August 31, 2023. (Photo by Jess Beck)

BY JESS BECK | Go Venue Magazine

This was, by far, one of the most interesting shows I’ve been to. Some of it was great, and some of it was weird.

The weird bits?

Hundreds (if not thousands) of people ranging from 12 to 70 all showed up dressed for the best punk rock show you never knew about before.

The audience-to-artist volume was skewed – for the first time in my experience – to the audience.

The great bits, though?

Cigarettes After Sex (henceforth CAS) actually puts on a very visually appealing show for the audience.

The fan loyalty of these fellas is extraordinary and is something to be admired.

But for all the bits, CAS completely sold out The Armory on Thursday, August 31st, 2023 to throngs of adorning, screaming, and well-dressed fans.

Although there wasn’t any direct support, CAS decided to delay the show 15 minutes to ensure that everyone had arrived inside the venue for the show. When they emerged behind the giant black curtain, illuminated by one spotlight to kick off the night you would’ve thought you were at a Taylor Swift, the screams were so deafening.

That last line wasn’t a gripe either – I love the unexpected because I came into this show expecting a very different audience than who emerged. These folks were here for an experience, and CAS was certainly ready to deliver.

Together since 2008 however, CAS is a very well-oiled machine – delivering near perfect renderings of their recordings. Sure, they aren’t the most technical band on the planet, but this is still impressive considering that they can instantly create this atmosphere of a hazy, summertime dream on the spot. I can’t think of another artist other than The Unemployed Architects who could pull that off (more circa 2015, but still).

CAS would probably fit into the category of “Romance-Indie” if there were such a thing, and vocalist Greg Gonzolez is a master at creating an atmosphere that had the majority of couples at the show trying to find a place to slow dance intimately embraced in one another’s arms. This was a sharp contrast to the rock shows I’m used to, where people just start making out at the barricade. Here, it was like people were being transported to another dimension where only the two of them existed.

Some tracks had visual enhancements, such as a sunrise cascading blissfully over an ocean on “Heavenly.” “Dreaming of You” was accompanied by a cloud-filled sky illuminated by nothing but lightning strikes. “Opera House,” the final track of the evening, showcased light, puffy snowfall like you find in all the Hallmark movies where the couple finally kisses at the end of the movie in the dimly lit street corner of a small town.

Who said romance was dead?

The majority of CAS’s catalogue is comprised of very sensual material. It’s the NSFW stuff that these guys are just saying out loud (and probably getting paid more than you are for a job where you can’t say this stuff). And maybe that’s where the dynamic really is. Very complex story lines in the lyrics, but musically very simplistic. Simply the means of the message so that the message isn’t lost.

I don’t know.

It’s been a while since I’ve taken philosophy.

But what I do know, is that these guys actually put on a very well organized, and well-thought-out performance.

If you have the chance to see them on this tour, I doubt that you’ll regret it.

As always, a big thank you to The Armory staff, from the security to the bartenders to the people who were constantly mopping up the spilled drinks of those who don’t understand that concerts are marathons – not sprints. You guys do more than anyone can thank you for personally, but without you, events like these wouldn’t be possible. Remember to be excellent to one another, keep that deodorant shit up (you’ve all been doing a wonderful job by the way), and continue to support your local venues!

Until next time, y’all – I’m gonna go have some sex and cigarettes for absolutely no reason at all…

All images © Jess Beck

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