Western Fifth
Gig Seeker Pro

Western Fifth

Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States

Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States
Band Americana


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos


The best kept secret in music


"Record Review"

Western Fifth have released a dark, powerful debut full-length by the name of Stand Like a Thief, complete with 12 tracks to sink into and enjoy. A relaxed, steady progression reminiscent of contemplative minds is present through the album, which can most simply be described as country. There are no fast tempos present, but this isn't to say it lacks dynamics. Ranging from delicate, quiet acoustic to a full-band blast, it leaves nothing to be desired.

Among the album's finest qualities is its tendency to take its time and develop the music, until every last ounce of meaning can be squeezed out of it and absorbed by the listener. The tracks don't end until they've completed this, which (pleasantly) leads to songs slightly above average length that are a touch more enjoyable to hear than they would otherwise be.

In terms of music, the album is cleverly put together. Acoustic guitars provide the meat of the sound while bass and drums lend rhythmic support and an electric guitar wails out melodies above it all. The piano and fiddle also make appearances to embellish the songs acoustically. However, one shortcoming comes in Western Fifth's vocals; they seem frail and under-supported at times, and as such don't blend as well as they could with the accompanying instrumentation. Unfortunately, at times they also fall short on doing justice to the content of the song.

Which leads to the best part of Stand Like a Thief: lyrics that are beautiful, sadly poetic, and assume an almost existential air. Heartbreak, loneliness, and death are frequent themes, the last of which strikes in a particularly disconcerting and enthralling track toward the very end of the album. Entitled "I Will Keep You Warm," the song details the narrator's murder of his girlfriend on account of feelings of love that were too fervent for him to suppress. Dark and perverse, the lyrics represent how the strong, direct method of songwriting can still be artistic and emotionally powerful.

And if there were to be any doubt that the album's messages dealt with the ending of life, the repetition of the lyrics "then we die" many times at the ends of both the first and the last tracks should serve to reassure, and also create an excellent sense of closure, tying the compilation of songs neatly together. Overall, the album is an impressive work, presenting forceful, personal emotions through a sound best described as well-developed country.
- 30music.com

"Record Review #2"

Western Fifth is a band from the Minneapolis area with a sound that is hard to describe. There are roots elements at play in the music but the band does have a good rock vibe, as lonesome as it may be. I found them to be somewhat comparable to Band Of Horses only a little more straightforward without all of the fancy effects. You might even liken some of Western Fifth's songs to that of Wilco's more recent output. "Wait Until Dark (A Good Time To Shine)" would be a good example of this sound. On "Smiles Of Gold" I love the way that Ryan Holweger's vocals sound so aching. That is one of the best selling points of Western Fifth, the vocals. They aren't perfect but that's what makes them special. I love the way that the band allows all the instruments to stand out in the mix as well. There doesn't seem to be anything with more priority.

Other pros with Stand Like A Thief is that the album actually has enough diversity even with Ryan's rough vocals to make the whole thing enjoyable. The slight swing style of "Madeline" is probably the best example of where this band's potential lies.

For an indie project, this package is professional as well. It comes in a greatly designed digipak. It shows that the band is serious about this album. Stand Like A Thief is one of the best unhyped albums this year. - Music Emissions

"Live Show Review"

I’ve been enjoying Western Fifth’s new CD Stand Like A Thief very much (read my brief CD review here), so I made sure not to miss their release party Friday night at the Uptown Bar. The band played the middle slot on a bill with openers The Evening Rig and Kid Dakota in the headline slot.

The songs on the new CD (their second release) remind me of the lonely gray house on a hill that appears on the album’s back cover: dark, brooding, yet curiously welcoming. You just want to walk up that hill and go inside.

The band’s set list was ordered much like their CD, opening with the first track (“We’ve Got The Rain”) and closing with the final track (“I Am Not Cold Anymore”). There were some change-ups in the middle because they had no keyboard ; the keyboard’s power cable had sadly gone missing before Friday night's show.

Where Drive-by Truckers were known for their “three axe attack,” Western Fifth may someday be remembered for their three beard one, singer Ryan Holweger’s being the most broad the three bearded members. They sometimes reminded me of a super slow Big Ditch Road in BDR’s early days, at other times, of an equally lethargic, down-tempo The Ashtray Hearts.

We arrived late during their fourth song, “Hello, Goodnight,” but I can confidently report that the moroseness and beautiful dirge-like quality of Stand Like A Thief’s material remains intact in their live performance. (I did miss the occasional trumpet, however.) Live, the band puts their whole weight behind the chords and punches into them with even more emotional force than they do in the studio. There are many, many points in the music where a lethargic phrase all of a sudden takes a breath and then slams into you with what can only be called full-on lethargy, akin to being broadsided by a bus.

Dave Boquist - Photo by Barnett

“Wait Until Dark (A Good Time To Shine)” was another slow but powerful song mid-set. Finding myself again counting in three quarter time, I realized Western Fifth are kings of the slow, depressing waltz. Musically they were a perfect match for Kid Dakota on this bill. Somehow, despite the packed dance floor, a few girls managed to practice some waltzing, including twirls, up in the front row. Despite the craziness up front, HowWasTheShow photographer Jenn Barnett braved the crowds to deliver an amazing set of photos. (I encourage you to check out her full sets from this show here and here.)

During the next song a drunk patron made as if he was going to climb onto the stage, only to be pulled back by a member of opening band, The Evening Rig. One of the problems with drunk guys is they are not so easily deterred, and he soon moved climbed the stairs stage left to stand next to Dave Boquist and play “air fiddle.” Boquist, stoic pro that he is, just totally ignored the guy. (Still, no matter how many times I see this sort of behavior at shows it never grows any less tiresome.)

Without their keyboard, the band changed up a few songs in their set list as I mentioned, and next up was a countrified cover of “Dead Flowers” by the Stones. Holweger tossed a tambourine into the audience to encourage crowd participation, Boquist moved to Guitar, and the song was a bouncy success despite the band’s claim they’d only rehearsed it once. (And speaking of the Stones and Boquist, a concert-goer behind me joked during the next song, “Is that Keith Richards on the violin?” Huh?)

Western Fifth’s “I Will Keep You Warm” morphed into a classic rock song with the pedal steel player Thomas Case switching spots with guitar player Ryan Jacobsen to play a guitar solo reminiscent (almost) of something off the first Boston album. The band closed with “I Am Not Cold Anymore” which is a bit of a reprise of the album’s opening song, “We’ve got the Rain.” It ends with the poetic refrain, “The pain will soon be there for the rain to wash away. Then we die...” John Wurm’s drums drop out, the fiddle builds, and the song ends with just fiddle, bass drum and John Christenson’s light bass. I am so glad I made it out for this show.

- howwastheshow.com

"Magazine Review"


This is only available in PDF form - our review is on page 97. - Refueled Magazine


Western Fifth (self titled EP)
Stand Like A Thief (LP)

Four songs on our new record have received airplay:
We've got the rain
Hello, Goodnight
In the end I went away
Revolving Door Blues

Songs can be heard at:



Their sound is lonesome, haunting, and almost classic country at times, yet sounds right at home in the world of independent rock music. Western Fifth creates a visionary sound, founded on heartfelt and often dark lyrics, blended with both classic and eclectic instrumentation.

After starting out playing shows at all the typical Twin Cities rock venues (including the legendary First Avenue), Western Fifth has since embarked on a few tours throughout the Midwest and southern United States. They have also shared the stage with numerous national touring acts, including some of their biggest influences (Buffalo Tom, Rock Plaza Central, Richard Buckner, Ike Reilly, American Music Club, Handsome Furs, Great Lake Swimmers, etc).

The band followed up their 2006 self-titled debut with a new full length album “Stand Like A Thief”, released in late 2008. Aside from the band members all playing multiple instruments, guests Dave Boquist (original Son Volt) and John Dehaven (former Bon Iver member) contributed heavily to the record. “Stand Like A Thief” has received radio airplay & critical acclaim across the globe, including Scotland, Australia, The Netherlands, Spain, Italy, England, Belgium, New Zealand & Germany.

“…much of their stuff was like listening to The Replacements if they had hired Steve Earle to do their arrangements for them, and then tossed a trumpet in from time to time to round things out. The lyrics were rich in imagery and the music was spare at turns, despite having six group members onstage, but as they got rolling it sort of felt like you'd been hit in the head with a bar of soap shoved into a sock—it was a lot to digest, emotionally. The songs had a worn, frayed-at-the-edges feel as if they had emerged, fully formed, from the drawer of some long-forgotten piece of furniture in the basement of an even longer-forgotten, broken-down farmhouse.” - Pat O’Brien, howwastheshow.com