The Urge rocks their hometown crowd for Black Friday 2019

I initially caught wind of The Urge right around the time they first got back together in 2011, and rather quickly the St. Louis natives became one of my favorites. Granted, had I been born five or ten years earlier, I probably would have discovered them in their heyday at the turn of the century. Regardless, I found a fun, horns-driven, alt-rock sound I could totally get behind, even with being a decade and a half late to the party. I was even later to the party when it came to seeing the band live though. Despite the veteran sextet headlining The Pageant every year since reuniting, this past Black Friday was the first time I had the privilege of experiencing them “all the way live,” and it was everything I hoped it would be.

I missed Kansas City’s Six Percent, but I did get the chance to catch local area rockers Fragile Porcelain Mice, who went on right before the hometown heroes. Stylistically, Fragile Porcelain Mice was hardcore punk, and while I typically am not a fan of such music, the Belleville, Illinois–based quartet kept things interesting the entire time they were up on stage. Whether it was the frontman’s “Where’s Waldo”–esque outfit (and even a matching megaphone to boot), the fantastically tight bass lines throughout, or the many mid-song tempo changes, I spent much of Fragile Porcelain Mice’s set overwhelmed with awe. Between the awe and shock I was experiencing, I almost forgot about all the time I spent trying to avoid getting caught up in the mosh pits, which admittedly felt like a constant struggle.

The moshing that took place early and often proved to be a theme for the entire evening, not just with Fragile Porcelain Mice but with the headliners as well. Thankfully, by the time The Urge took the stage, I was able to find a prime spot that minimized my contact with moshing concertgoers. Those of us not moshing instead spent much of our time dancing, and this started the moment The Urge played the opening notes of their hit “Too Much Stereo.”   

The six-piece did not stop there though, and they didn’t waste any time, kicking right into the other hit single from 2000’s Too Much Stereo “Four Letters and Two Words.” Frontman Steve Ewing was just as charismatic as I had imagined him, while the rest of The Urge brought a tireless, seamless rock set that was both fun and engaging. The band rocked through a set list that accurately captured many of the major snapshots from their thirty-plus year career together, even touching on the 1990 effort Puttin’ the Backbone Back to kick off their three-song encore. They struck a happy medium between playing all of their “hits” and incorporating a healthy dose of deep cuts, even sneaking in a “Happy Thanksgiving” jam partway through.

My only real qualm with their set is that the Missouri-based alternative rock group neglected much of their most recent full-length, Galvanized. The 2013 LP was one of my top albums that year, so I was looking forward to seeing its live interpretations, but the record’s opening cut “Believe” ended up being its only one they played that night. Of course, at this point Ewing and company are probably sick of playing those songs, so I can’t say I blame them. Still, how do you leave out jams like “Say Yeah” and “Out on the Fringe?” Apart from that one minor complaint, I have nothing but praise from Black Friday 2019. It exceeded my expectations and also threw in a few pleasant surprises along the way.

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