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Younger Brings Femme Freshness to Witching Hour

By Lauren Arzbaecher
Photos by Lindey Carlson

Flowers dripping over the bass drum, Younger brought a spark of femme freshness to the opening night of Witching Hour with a performance at Gabe’s Friday night.

Adorned in varying combinations of black, the three members of the Iowa City-based alt-rock band took the stage familiarly, no doubt feeling at home. Smiling out at the crowd, the aura inside Gabe’s became warmer, a clear friendship between the band and audience. Amanda Crosby, who plays bass and shares lead vocals with fellow guitarist Rachel Sauter, addressed the crowd:

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“We’re Younger, and you’re not.”

Drummer Sarah Mannix then cued the other two in and they were off to the races. Their sound is rancorously quick, fueled by progressive drums and edgy guitars. Crosby’s vocals contain a Blondie-esque timbre, but Younger transgresses the trope of girl rock groups. Experimental guitar riffs blended with kaleidoscopic harmonies create an inventive rock atmosphere.

Hypnotizingly discordant three-part vocals collided with a rough-and-tumble guitar in “Night Milk,” the tantalizing title song of the band’s recently released album Night Milk. Much of the setlist was pulled off the album, released September of this year. “Big Deal” was non-stop fun with a rapid tempo and sassy background vocals.  

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There were some call backs to earlier hits like “Streetrat” and “Trenca,” the sense of nostalgia and friendship emanating from the stage. Mannix’s deep brown curls bounced along to each and every song, lighting the stage up with movement from behind her floral drum set.

Support for the band came from all corners of Gabe’s, from both the audience and the stage. Hollers of “You’re a goddess!” and other cheers seemed to pop up after almost every song. The deep friendships between Younger members was clear as they smiled and engaged with each other mid-track. This sense of belonging and openness only made their music all the more alluring.

During the second to last song of the set, Sauter’s guitar cut out, and they finished the song on just bass and drums. After fiddling with her pedalboard for a few minutes, staff at Gabe’s trying to help as best they could, it seemed as though the signal to Sauter’s guitar was malfunctioning and couldn’t be fixed in time to finish out the last song of the night.

Although it was an abrupt end, all three left the stage smiling and chatting with audience members. Genuine and generous humans and musicians, their performance left me feeling – and wanting to be – Younger.

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