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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Voltage Band Spotlight #2: Blue Sky Blackout

Blue Sky Blackout - photo by Kate Iverson

This is the second in a series of Voltage 2010 band spotlights we'll be running here on the HowWasTheShow blog, one each week up until the week of the show. (Last week we profiled Ruby Isle, who will also be playing Voltage 2010 at First Avenue on Friday, April 16th.)

Blue Sky Blackout

Band Members: Jon Hunt, Christian Erickson, Marc Iwanin, Mykl Westbrooks, Tim Ritter, and Brandon Dalida.


If there’s such a thing as good cholesterol, perhaps there’s such a thing as good testosterone. Every time I see the six members of Blue Sky Blackout on stage, I can’t help but think: damn, that’s a lot of dudes. And cool, fashionable dudes at that, who know how to rock.

Blue Sky Blackout was conceived by Jon Hunt (Shatterproof, Landing Gear, Medication) in 2009 and played their first show in July 2009 with a lineup that reads like a veritable super group of Twin Cities rock: Christian Erickson (Astronaut Wife) provides lead vocals, Mykl Westbrooks (Landing Gear) and Brandon Dalida (Mercurial Rage, The TV Sound) both play lead guitar in addition to the guitar by Hunt himself. The band is rounded out by Tim Ritter (Astronaut Wife) on bass and drummer Marc Iwanin of Basement Apartment. Blue Sky Blackout proves beyond a shadow of doubt that there are times in life when three guitars is exactly what the rock doctor ordered.

Blue Sky Blackout plays heavy, catchy Brit rock with hooks and attitude that literally spills from the stage. The songs are fresh yet somehow familiar. I don’t believe anyone in this band would dare claim they are doing anything particularly new; my take is they are just doing something extremely cool that they are all very good at that no one else on the local scene is doing right now. The result is a whole helluvalot of fun.

But don’t take my word for it. Check out this teaser of “Somebody Said That You Loved Me” from their upcoming Susstones 3-side, to be released in April and I believe you’ll instantly see what I mean. Blue Sky Blackout are sure to bring a rock star touch to Voltage this year.

Blue Sky Blackout will be outfitted by Steve Kang of BlackBlue for Voltage 2010. For more on menswear designer and boutique owner Kang, check out this interview L’etoile did with him last fall.

Also this week, check out L’etoile’s Voltage designer spotlights on Brianne Jones and Christine Carmichael.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Voltage Band Spotlight #1: Ruby Isle

Ruby Isle, publicity photo

This is the first in a series of Voltage 2010 band spotlights we'll be running here on the HowWasTheShow blog, one each week up until the week of the show. Our first band profile is of Ruby Isle, who will be playing Voltage 2010 at First Avenue on Friday, April 16th.

Ruby Isle

Band Members: Mark Mallman (vocals, guitar), Dan Geller (bass, vocoder) and Aaron Lemay (drums)


Twin Cities/Athens, GA electro rock band Ruby Isle (who may or may not be named after a shopping center in Brookfield, Wisconsin) is at SXSW this week debuting their take on Guns ‘N Roses “Appetite for Destruction,” which they recently covered in its entirety.

Ruby Isle’s MySpace page claims they are a singing trio of brothers, though those in the know realize this is completely fictitious. Even those who don’t will begin to doubt that when they read on to hear that in 2008 the trio of brothers were asked to defend the Mexican village of Santo Poco from a bandit named El Guapo. Or who knows, maybe it's all true!

In any case, the band, who call themselves “the party band for the apocalypse” (if so, it almost makes you wish those four horsemen would gallop faster) come from three separate well-respected bands, Mark Mallman (Mark Mallman), I Am The World Trade Center (Dan Geller) and International Espionage (Aaron Lemay.)

Known for their electro dance covers of songs by bands like the Decemberists, Fleet Foxes, Animal Collective and Bon Iver (see the videos for several of these on their MySpace), the band will bring some of their originals like “So Damn High” and “Night Shot” to Voltage 2010 and the result is bound to be an explosive set you won’t want to miss.

At Voltage, Ruby Isle will be outfitted by Anthem Heart, who will also be designing this year's limited edition t-shirts for the Voltage event (available at the show.)

Friday, March 05, 2010

Ruby Isle covers Appetite for Destruction for 2010 release, performs project at SXSW!

Ruby Isle - Publicity photo

When I first heard Ruby Isle was slated to cover not just a song or two but the entirety of Gun's N' Roses Appetite for Destruction I thought someone was pulling my leg. I quickly remembered that Mark Mallman is a key member of this project and changed my thinking from "can't believe it" to "can't wait to hear it." At the time of writing, I have not yet had a listen, but am hoping I will get my chance soon.

Read full details about the Guns 'N Roses cover project and about where you can catch Ruby Isle at SXSW this year in the full press release below.

Ruby Isle will also be appearing at Voltage Fashion Amplified 2010.


Electro cover machine Ruby Isle has announced that they are unveiling their latest cover project in early 2010. The “party band of the apocalypse”, known best for dance floor versions of Animal Collective, Decemberists and Bon Iver, has been re-recording Guns N’ Roses’ 1988 LP Appetite for Destruction. The project is nearing completion and the band will debut their take on GNR at SXSW 2010.

What started as a straightforward electronic adaptation of GNR’s debut slowly evolved into a spaced-out experiment incorporating both live and electronic instrumentation. Ruby Isle vocalist Mark Mallman commented, “In the beginning of recording everything just seemed too obvious. We decided to go into the studio and bring in musicians with diverse musical backgrounds to make this thing a little more interesting.” The extended sound palette includes a jazz quartet, French female vocals, live strings and a guest appearance from Har Mar Superstar on “Sweet Child O’ Mine.”

While the sonic direction of the LP is a huge departure for the electro-arena rock leaning trio; the members of Ruby Isle all agree that Appetite for Destruction was an easy choice as they were all very familiar with it from spending their formative years in bowling alleys of the Midwest. Says Ruby Isle’s Dan Geller, “It is my older brothers’ favorite LP of all time, when he hears what we did to it, he is probably going to kill me.” Dan’s brother Kevin was unavailable for comment.

Ruby Isle will debut their new project live at SXSW 2010 and the LP will follow later this year.

Ruby Isle SXSW 2010 – Guns N’ Roses Appetite for Destruction Sets

  • 03/17/10 - Lambert’s - Green Room Music Source Official SXSW Showcase - 7:00PM
  • 03/20/10 - The Side Bar - The 40 Watt SXSW Day Party - 6:00PM