By: Brady Groothuis
To explain El Ten Eleven would have to be something like “Rhythmically brilliant and bright” or “a sweaty night of movement” or “a catchy dance that never gets old” …the list could go on and on. El Ten Eleven hit the stage at First Avenue’s 7th Street Entry and opened with a brand new tune from their 2012 release Transitions called “Thanks Bill.” This song is one of my new favorites – they keep their original sound and complexity, but create a fun song that caught the attention of the entire packed house. The room was in constant motion with random “woos!” and “ohs!” coming from the entertained crowd.
The night was starting off perfect when another great song “K10” started. The band uses heavier elements in this song than in others. “I like Van Halen Because My Sister Says They Are Cool” followed, and this song has classic elements like a quick and ever-changing drum beat mixed with perfect harmonics from the guitar player. What makes El Ten Eleven special is that there are only two members in the band – and the guitar player uses a double headed bass/guitar that he constantly loops and switches time signatures and keeps everything inline and constant. The band does not use a click live so if there is a tiny mistake they just have to push through the song, and usually that is what makes the live show so much fun.
El Ten Eleven are a very tight group that can take 14 songs and keep a flow to a set keeping the energy high at all times. “Yellow Bridges” is a high energetic song that has an effect of falling under control and the feeling of soaring down to the end of a tunnel. It took the audience by surprise and everyone cheered, getting ready yet again to dance. The band jammed into “Hot Cakes,” and the audience started clapping intensely to this jam. It’s so easy to do so with the heavy bass licks and whammy guitar taking you for a loop. The set continued as the audience drank and cheered. The band stopped partway through the set to explain their song “Transitions.” Live, it’s about a twelve minute song and I guess they always ask themselves, “Why did we write this song,” and then, “Why not?” “Transitions” is brilliant with many different time changes and parts that never waiver.
Overall, the night was a blast. I had a chance to speak with the band after the show and they were the nicest dudes to talk with – explaining how cool the Cities were and how much they enjoy the people here. The night was a success and I could head home with a sense of satisfaction having heard all my favorite songs by this Californian band.