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Amyl and the Sniffers dominate First Avenue with tenacious spirit

Amyl and the Sniffers performed at First Avenue in Minneapolis on Thursday, September 29, 2022.
Amyl and the Sniffers performed at First Avenue in Minneapolis on Thursday, September 29, 2022.Sara Fish for MPR

by Macie Rasmussen

September 30, 2022

There’s a good chance people standing along First Avenue’s barricade Thursday night got some of Amy Taylor’s spit on their faces. As the lead vocalist of Amyl and the Sniffers, one of the leading bands in the Australian punk scene, Taylor’s unadulterated energy can be described as beautifully monstrous, and her vocals as authoritatively cogent. Any move a human body can produce, she accomplished it.

Backed by drummer Bryce Wilson, guitarist Dec Martens and bassist Gus Romer, Taylor restlessly commanded the room in unabashed fashion. On “Guided By Angels,'' she sang, “I’ve got plenty of energy! It’s my currency!” And if energy is how she compensates crowds for their attention and admiration, she paid her dues with an indelible performance.

A four-piece band performs
Amyl and the Sniffers performed at First Avenue in Minneapolis on Thursday, September 29, 2022.
Sara Fish for MPR

Dancing, jumping, stomping, shaking head rapidly back and forth, squatting, headbanging with hangs on thighs, imitating twirling a lasso overhead, grabbing her crotch, dragging the mic stand across stage, rodeo-like dancing with thumbs in belt buckles — Taylor did it all in spectacular fashion.

And, yes, there was spit; Taylor executed a massive number of spit takes. On the stage, on herself, likely spritzing the crowd, the saliva catapulting out of her mouth wasn’t grotesque. Rather, it was pure rock ‘n’ roll, an unashamed signifier of dedication to her art.

While sticking with their two most recent albums, Comfort to Me and the self-titled Amyl and The Sniffers, Taylor vacillated between apathy and passion, sinking into each with the same vigor. On “Capital,” she declares a belief that, “Freedom don't exist / Humans don't exist / Existing to exist / Life is meaningless.” Yet, on “Hertz,” she describes warm desires: “I want to drive in the countryside / I want the breeze in my hair / I am touching your leg and / I have my hand in your hand.”

When not barreling across the stage and bellowing lyrics, she spoke genuinely to the crowd. At the beginning of the show, she ordered the audience to not touch those who don’t want to be touched and to help those who fall. Near the end, she crouched down to the front row and shook hands with an individual, saying, “I remember meeting you last time.” When referring to the band’s home country, Taylor said that when people think about Australia, she hopes people think of the Indigenous people because they are forgotten. And she prefaced “Knifey,” with a dedication to the “ladies and nonbinary crew.”

Speaking of identities, the show had transcendent aura, with many generations represented in the assembled crowd. There was clearly no age limit for crowd surfers. When “Got You” played, a woman grooved as she turned to someone (perhaps a partner?), and repeatedly poked at their chest as Taylor sang, “And I don’t want anybody else / I got you.”

Some may have walked out of the venue wondering, “Is Taylor a nihilist? Is she a hedonist? Does she use songwriting and performance to manifest her oscillating views of the world?” Who knows! If anything is certain, it’s that with a supportive band, Amyl is a musical dominatrix. For 60 minutes, it was her world. We were just living in it.

The first band of the evening, the Rumours, journeyed to Minneapolis from Iowa. In an Instagram post on Tuesday, the punk band reminded followers that they would be opening the First Avenue show: “R U EVEN READY FOR ALL THE ENERGY!? CAN’T WAIT!” This energy came in the form of teeth clenched, heads thrown back, and tattoos on full display. Not many songs passed without synchronized hair flips amid expressions of women’s empowerment.

Guitarist and bassist play while looking out at the crowd
The Rumours opened for Amyl and the Sniffers at First Avenue on Thursday, September 29, 2022.
Sara Fish for MPR

The second act, Bob Vylan, led a spectacular warm-up that began with light stretching and meditation, then followed with a rollercoaster of sonic vocabulary shifting quickly between thundering drums and pounding rap rhythms. Bob Vylan commanded the mic, and Bobbie Vylan the drums. (Taylor later pronounced them the best band in the world. “If you have a problem with them, you have a problem with me,” she said.)

The U.K. duo’s Spotify bio reads: “THE INTERNET IS DEAD, SEE US IN THE FLESH!” After watching their performance, that command made sense. Vylan (on the mic) didn’t let the music alone do the talking; he interspersed the set with stories of their time on the road and in their home city, London. Before a song dedicated to London’s underground transit system, “The Tube,” he made sly comments about the lack of public transit in the United States. “Big f*cking cars destroying the planet,” he said.

Person holds mic to face with drummer in the foreground
Bob Vylan opened for Amyl and the Sniffers at First Avenue on Thursday, September 29, 2022.
Sara Fish for MPR

Vylan openly sharing his impressions of the U.S. made for significant moments of the night. The frontman claims to be happy touring with Amyl and the Sniffers, but seemed to be uncomfortable with the locations they’ve visited thus far. He mentioned “the other flag” they saw in the southern U.S., and commented on the “racist police system” in the country, specifically in Minnesota's metro area. “Terrible things happened in Minneapolis. Terrible things continue to happen. In Minneapolis, being Black is punishable by death. George Floyd. Daunte Wright. Amir Locke.”

Much of Bob Vylan’s music includes U.K. political and human rights commentary. Justified resentment prompted him to swing a baseball bat and jump into the crowd on the opening and closing tracks. Of course, Queen Elizabeth’s death couldn’t be ignored. “When they put her in the ground, unfortunately, we were in America, so we couldn’t dance on her grave,” he said.

Before the headliner took the stage, Vylan closed with positive sentiment. “It’s nice to be on Prince’s stage… The right Prince, not our prince!” 

Amyl and the Sniffers Setlist

??? Balaclava Lover Boogie 

Freaks To The Front 

Don’t Fence Me In

Got You





Don’t Need a C*nt (Like You To Love Me)

Shake Ya





Guided By Angels 


Gacked On Anger

Some Mutts (Can’t Be Muzzled)