The Fine Line Music Café in downtown Minneapolis was the perfect venue for the CD release of one of the most up and coming local acts, Fragile. After three years and countless hours of hard work, Darrell Marrier, Chauncey Marrier, Christopher Marion, Matt Osowski and Charlie Van Kirk took the stage Saturday, May 15, 2010 and proudly showed the audience just what they were made of.
The lights were dimmed to a dull glow as bassist Matt Osowski strummed his intro. The smoke machine in the corner ominously spouted a thick cloud covering the stage in a colorful haze. And, front man Darrell Marrier took the stage shortly after 11:30 p.m. amid a throng of people poised and ready to hear the debut album This Land Will Be Civilized in its entirety.
“We were planning a CD release for a while so there was a lot of anticipation leading up to it,” Darrell said. “Our first choice of venue was the Fine Line and we were lucky enough to have their support for the show. It seems to get better every time we play there.”
A confident group of guys, Fragile soaked in what Darrell said was a “community vibe” of bonding with the other bands before embarking on a live show that would officially solidify their place in the Minneapolis music scene. Three years of painstakingly tough work on an album that is sure to be the best thing coming out of the Twin Cities this year was all worth it as they opened with ‘Fire Within A Flame.’
Dressed in slick, gentlemanly attire complete with ties, suit jackets and button vests, the musicians of Fragile played each song off the album in order and with such grace, it gave new meaning to true musicianship. During the ending of ‘No,’ Darrell belted out a guitar solo with his voice, which only made a stunned crowd scream in shock and awe. This performance took his versatility factor to its highest yet and really showed just how talented he is.
Halfway through the performance and in sync with the album, keyboardist Christopher Marion took hold of the violin and beautifully replicated the entrancing lead in chorus to the slower ballad, ‘Songbird.’ Keeping with the relaxed pace, guitarist Chauncey Marrier played the acoustic guitar alongside Darrell’s smooth vocals. But, it was the fast, haunting sounds of ‘Down to the River’ that got the entire audience clapping and moving to the beat. The hard guitars were perfectly on queue and the ever-pounding drums by Charlie Van Kirk gave the song new life as a live track. A little more than an hour later, Fragile had officially released their music to the masses.
“It’s a pretty surreal feeling to have that album out there for people to pick up,” Darrell said. “We have put so much time into it thus far that it seemed like we would never be done with it. So to have it released now and up on iTunes and Amazon and in some local stores is huge.”
Once the entire album had been played, they came back on stage for a few last songs to end the evening on a rocking note. A perfectly sung and played rendition of ‘No One Knows’ by Queens of the Stone Age started the hype and their almost signature ending cover, “Helter Skelter” by the Beatles could also be heard throughout the venue. Matching the intensity and angst of each song to a tee, each member did their part to send their band off with a great ending.
“We thought it really worked live and we felt good about the ebbs and flows of the sound and energy it presented,” Darrell said. “Again, the sound was really great and it set us up to play our best. The set went by really fast for us and before we knew it we were playing ‘Slow Suicide’ and wrapping things up. Being able to come back out and play a couple extras is always nice as well. Overall, I think this was the best show we have played thus far.”
While the musicians are taking careful steps to take their music to the next level, they aren’t going to ease up on their dream of both making an influential impact and creating music that inspires.
“The future of Fragile is something we are shaping very carefully and again, now that the record is released we can take this to the next level,” Darrell said. “The reactions to the record have been great and there is this feeling like we can really make something of it. We have a ways to go to get to where we as a band want to be and where we want this record to be. We had fun and celebrated its release, but now it’s back to work.”
The Opening Acts
Also on the bill for the evening as opening acts were three well-established Minneapolis bands Far From Falling, Morning Society, and Parachutes Fail, and the brand new sounds from The Attley Project. While singer/songwriter Ray Attley and guitarist Evan Tepler are familiar with the music scene as former members of the now defunct Drift Effect, it was the first big gig for The Attley Project, and it happened to be a CD release show.
“I felt really good about our performance,” Attley said. “I think we got a great reaction and it felt pretty good to play. I have to admit that I was very nervous to play guitar in front of people. I haven’t done that in almost four years, yet I think I played well, which makes me really happy.”
While Attley and Tepler have been writing together for quite some time, it was at this show that the two friends showcased the inner workings of their thought process with lyrically astonishing songs such as ‘Memory,’ ‘Surround You,’ and ‘Cycles.’ It only took a half hour set for The Attley Project to make an impact but it brought out a great crowd and even a couple of signs, one being a faux marriage proposal for Tepler.
“It’s very flattering,” Tepler said. “I’ve mostly been the ‘guy behind the scenes’ and to know that now that I’m back on stage and have that support from friends means a lot. And honestly, we couldn’t have asked for a better crowd for our Minneapolis debut.”
After a somber and thoughtful opening performance by The Attley Project, Indie rock group Parachutes Fail brought not only their exceptional background sounds but their entrancing voices as well. Describing themselves with a sound of “broken syntax on rented lips,” lead singer and guitarist Josh Engen and musician of all trades Ryan Knitter took the mic and belted out an acoustic performance that I hadn’t experienced before. The sound of Engen’s voice was absolutely captivating and mixed in with the keyboard and background music done by Knitter entertained the audience throughout the entire performance.
A brief intermission in music brought in more and more people as Morning Society set up for their performance. Another debut was in store as former guitarist of Drift Effect Marc Hedman, who currently plays in Morning Society and played several songs with The Attley Project earlier in the evening, helped pick up the tempo of the show.
“It’s definitely different, as the music is a bit mellower than Drift Effect,” Hedman said of his new gig. “I’m still trying to figure out at what points of the songs I can jump around! All of the guys are amazing musicians and great dudes. It’s made the transition really enjoyable.”
Rocking out many of their most popular songs from their debut album, the guys of Morning Society have a stage presence all their own and even with a new lineup are just as impressive as before.
“For us, playing with Fragile was great,” bassist Tom Trenka said. “And, I think our own set was pretty strong. We mostly played songs from our debut CD, but we added at least one new song and that went over well.”
The final act before the much-anticipated headliners was the well-known, popular boys of Far From Falling. Always bringing a fantastic following, ticket holders packed the floor to support front man Harley Wood and his crew of brilliant musicians.
“We were asked by Fragile’s manager in conjunction with the First Avenue Ovarian Cancer benefit that was held recently,” said guitarist John Reid about playing that evening. “We absolutely love playing the Fine Line and our schedule was open, so it worked out nicely.”
An electric first few songs amped up the atmosphere within the Fine Line and set the perfect stage for the last band. Although Reid said it was Fragile’s night to shine, they were just as proud to promote their band and show support for other bands, whether they are headlining or not.
“We’re flattered to be held in such high regard,” Reid said. “We always want to make an effort to play with and support bands that are trying to do something positive with their gifts.”
Aside from just the music, Darrell and Chauncey Marrier are using their gifts in a positive way by supporting their own cause, The Hands Foundation. It began after a trip to Monterrey, Mexico showed many families in need of stable housing. The nonprofit organization, aimed at helping under privileged and poor families, dedicates its work to providing labor and materials for building projects.
While it was all about the music for the majority of people at the release, it was also about helping others for Fragile. At the merchandise table was a small jar that was promoted during the evening as a jar that would accept donations for the Hands Foundation.
“After all was said and done, we were able to raise about $250 for the foundation,” Darrell said. “It was a great start to what we hope will be something big here in Minneapolis and St. Paul with the Hands Foundation.”
The two most recent projects the brothers Marrier are working on are local projects, one in St. Paul and the other in Burnsville. Photos and stories of these projects will be up on the Hands Foundation’s site soon.
At the end of the evening, another great local band was able to realize a dream of putting their music out there. And, not only were they happy with the festivities, but the supporting acts were just as proud.
“Fragile’s set was amazing,” Hedman said. “Their musical palette has always been diverse, but it all fit together. Something about their set that night j ust flowed, and for the first time I was really able to see really how deeply personal and emotional Darrell’s lyrics are. Blew my mind.”
The debut album from Fragile ‘This Land Will Be Civilized’ is available now on iTunes, Amazon and at Electric Fetus, Cheapo, Roadrunner and Treehouse Records stores throughout Minneapolis.
For more information about Fragile visit their website.
For more information or to donate to the Hands Foundation visit the website.