words by Chance Solem-Pfeifer
If Red Cities were the soundtrack to one thing, it'd probably be a bar fight.
The first guitar arrives on the scene strong but a little distant like a clenching and coiling fist. Then comes the other guitar like an evil twin, dispensing with the foreplay and laying out someone with a chair.
It’s a poorly lit bar that the fight is happening in because, well, just listen to Red Cities and its punk rock influences and this is hardly music for the light of day. And then Eric Aspengren and Josh Leeker rise up in the rhythm section in a chaotic yet controlled escalation and the whole place is embroiled in a beer and fist-swinging dance.
But as the title of their debut seven-inch, Build It Up, Tear it Down, would suggest, the police always come eventually. And in most Red Cities songs that means a distinct U-turn with the gritty rock shifting gears to double time or half time or maybe jumping to a different time signature altogether.
What the first half of the song builds up, the second half will inevitably tear down leaving the listener with an abrupt zero sum and only ringing ears to preserve what just happened for the last three and half minutes.
Even though Red Cities has been a live presence around Lincoln venues for less than a year, the quartet arrived its current station of rock ‘n’ roll via musical careers that in the case of span the last thirty years and multiple genres and multiple states.
Red Cities is a refreshment they say for the perspective that lifetimes of playing music allows: an appreciation for imperfection and a freedom from writing that burdensomely autobiographical.
And that’s exactly what makes the hypothetical bar fight more about release than violence. You can let off some steam at a Red Cities concert this Saturday, Aug. 24 at The Zoo Bar with Angel and The Devils and Laughing Falcon.
On Thursday night, though, the band joined us in-studio on Hear Nebraska FM for a fight-free set. Here is our interview with the band:
Chance Solem-Pfeifer is Hear Nebraska's staff writer. You best not pick a bar fight with him, or you'll get creamed. Reach Chance at email@example.com.