REVIEW – Pictoria Vark and Fend at The Treasury

03.30.23 – By McKenna Klaphake

Local music venues around the twin cities provide space for unique and intimate shows. One of those places is The Treasury in St. Paul. This all ages, and alcohol free, venue is located in the building of an old bank. The basement was turned into a DIY music space in 2021 and has hosted a variety of local and touring acts since then. I have been lucky to go to a handful of shows at The Treasury and have loved each experience. For people familiar with house shows, the space is a much more chill version of that. Concert goers walk down a set of stairs into a concrete basement. The room doesn’t leave much space between you and the band performing, and while that may sound intimidating to some, the energy created is anything but. 

On Thursday March 30th, local indie rock band, Fend, opened for Iowa native Pictoria Vark. The crowd was truly a “who’s who” of local music as members from local bands like the Gully Boys, Early Eyes, Keep for Cheap, and NATL PARK SRVC came out to support their fellow musicians. 

Fend started the night with a solo performance from lead singer, Josie Villano, who played a brand new song. Following this, the band quickly ran on stage and prepped their instruments while Villano riffed on the guitar to blend one part of the show into the next. Dressed in a dragon onesie, the lead singer joked with the audience which added to the welcoming atmosphere that Fend creates at all of their shows. 

Fend played an equal mix of new songs from their second EP (which this author is anxiously awaiting its release date) and their first EP “The Mend”, which was released in 2022. The band is bringing in a new generation of midwest emo with real, but sometimes depressing, lyrics and bridges that allow listeners to fully let go and rock out.  

Everything about Fend’s music makes sense, and that is completely due to the people making it. Each member of the band is an expert at creating amazing music just like they do in the many other musical projects that they are all involved in. Josie Villano and John O’Brien brought unbelievable energy to vocals and guitar. You could see the passion in both of their faces as they grooved to their own masterful creations. Abe Anderson, who has had a hand in helping create some of the best local music that Minnesota has to offer, drove each song with concentrated and passionate drumming. Last, but certainly not least, Kate Malanaphy added their special sound to the bass guitar and back up vocals. Malanaphy’s harmonies, which is usually screaming in this context, sends this bands sound over the top. The emotion displayed by all of the members was magnetising and you could really feel what each song was trying to convey. 

They performed the song “Domino” which is my personal favorite because of the wide array of emotions that the song brings the listener through and ultimately builds to a fiery and punchy finish. Fend has been taking the local music scene by storm and I truly cannot wait to see what the indie rock band does next! 

Pictoria Vark (aka Victoria Park) performed songs from her 2022 album release titled, “The Parts I Dread.” Each piece was driven by the singer songwriters immense talent on the bass guitar. Vark also had support from Fend’s, John O’Brien, on the electric guitar. The two artists had skilled synchronicity between their two instruments that, frankly, I could have listened to all night, which is even more admirable after learning that it was the first time the two musicians performed together. The indie rock sound created was beautiful in its simplicity and sentimental lyrics. Vark’s carefree and outgoing personality guided the audience through each song, sometimes explaining what they were about. Like “Friend Song” which Vark described is about loving your friends so much but being unable to express it without crying. 

Pictoria Vark shows that the bass guitar can be way more than a support instrument; it can be the star of the show. The sound created instrumentally strengthens Vark’s meaningful lyrics that touch on feelings of change and the growing pains that come with it. Much of Pictoria Vark’s recorded material has a full band supporting her so it was a special and unique experience to witness a more stripped down version of her songs. I am so thankful for spaces like The Treasury for curating unique experiences like this for lovers of all music genres.  

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