Posts tagged "Review"
By: Abbie Gobeli & Jerod Greenisen
Yuppies have just arrived with the release of this self-titled debut, but their sound comes across as if they have been somewhere for far too long. Yuppies is one of the few albums that seems to be just as unpredictable as it is enjoyable and reckless. “Alright, alright we’re going for a ride... whether you like it or not” sings lead vocalist and guitarist Jack Begely. It has only been two tracks and we’re off with Omaha natives, Yuppies.
Click the Polaroid to see Yuppies in Studio K
Founding members Jack Begley, Kevin Donahue and Noah Sterba came together in 2007 with mutual ambitions to perform live and overcome their teenage boredom. After touring many Midwestern basements, they added bassist Jeff Sedrel to the line-up in 2010. They have recently signed to Parquet Courts’ Dull Tools record company, and this maybe the start of something great for Yuppies. Although they come across sounding already like seasoned veterans, which they are considering their relentless basement touring, Yuppies won’t get too serious.
You’re never kept feeling too safe as Yuppies love to create crashing guitar riffs only to be discarded seconds later for a soapbox rant and lo-fi rumble. Moving quickly Yuppies will jerk you around to appreciate their general abuse of a guitar’s limitations. “Worms” gets this feeling across right away, positioning Begely absentmindedly punching his way through a verse and then leaving him nearly wailing his last bit. “Easy Nights” is chaotic mess that is layered with Begley’s deep, monotonous voice which adds a simple storytelling element to the frantic environment that erupts in each track.
“I Don’t Know” has the listener asking ‘where are we going’ more times than anyone cares to ask. This track resembles the best part of Yuppies; the breakneck speed at which we are taken through hairpin turns and post-punk noise fervors.
Check out Yuppies live in Studio K this past week for video and more tracks from their debut album.
Totally Gross National Product
By: Sam Sacks
Over the years, the Twin Cities area has proved itself to be the hub of the most dynamic progressive hip-hop and rap scene. Its eclectic music culture is what originally attracted Houston native, Lizzo, to relocate here. After receiving much positive attention from her collaboration in Lizzo and The Larva Ink, an electro funk duo, followed by her enlistment in female dominated rap trio, The Chalice, Lizzo quickly climbed the ranks of the alternative rap circuit. Inspired by the beats of Doomtree’s mastermind producer, Lazerbeak, Lizzo began working with him on Lizzobangers.
Lizzobangers demands an attentive listen; the only thing more complex than the instrumentation on this album maybe Lizzo’s stream of pop-culture references throughout. Following her through a wide range in tempo and seriousness amongst the thirteen tracks is thoroughly enjoyable. “W.E.R.K. Pt. II” is fast-paced and powerfully worded, showing off the speedy rapping prowess of Lizzo. Alternatively, the track “Go” is a much slower piece with an eerily beautiful chord progression, showcasing Lizzo’s soulful singing voice. That song could be Lazerbeak’s signature as it was layered ever so carefully, similar to the sound of a few Doomtree related records of past.
The single from Lizzobangers, “Batches & Cookies”, is perfectly catchy, having a minimal drum kit beat and repetitive whistling pattern to back up Lizzo. One of the most amazing parts about this song is the first verse. Not only does Lizzo parade her untouchable flow, but she also begins the verse very low in her register and climbs higher and higher in pitch until her voice squeaks at the last word. Additionally, music video for this track is fantastic; I have found myself watching it on repeat. It features Twin Cities hotspots lovingly as Lizzo and Sophia Eris (The Chalice) butter up locals at Glamdoll Donuts and prance around at a pride rally at the State Capitol.
The track, “Faded” starts powerfully after a hazy thirty-second intro with the familiar horn sounds of Lazerbeak, sounding similar to Doomtree’s, P.O.S. The range of instrumental sounds also appears on, “Be Still”, with a jazzy flute and bongos. With the creative beats from Lazerbeak, Lizzo was able to extract some very creative lyrics from the depths of her mind: “Takin’ a chill pill before I whip my sword out like Uma in Kill Bill” she raps in the track, “Be Still”. Another pop-culture reference from a movie appears in the track, “T-Baby” as Lizzo spits, “In retrospect, remember when the time when I was derelict, more like derelicte I made homeless chiq,” referring to the 2001 comedy, Zoolander. Aside from the clever pop-culture bits in her lyrics, Lizzo does a powerful job of showing the listener the real pieces of her life. On the captivating and emotional track, “Hot Dish”, Lizzo raps, “I lost my pops, man I wish he was alive, I can’t let go of the past, he never heard me rap, so I carry his spirit on my back in Minneap”, proving that she has no fears when it comes to lyrical content.
Encompassing pretty much everything it takes to be a successful musician, this definitely won’t be the last of Lizzo. Her “it factor” will surely take her very far, especially as she flourishes in the vibrant Twin Cities hip hop scene. Lizzo’s first album is an indicator of this, as it draws from the R&B and gospels sounds of her past while also being extremely innovative, making way for the future of her sound. Aside from her addition to the new female hip-hop group project, " href="http://www.grrrlprty.com/">GRRRL PRTY, she has recently been touring with " href="http://harmarsuperstar.com/">Har Mar Superstar. Check her out at her CD Release Show at the Triple Rock Social Club in December.
By Abbie Gobeli
Layers of instrumentation, electronics, and vast amounts of production is a current trend that increasingly coats the voice and lyricism. Sometimes you need musical simplicity to resonate with the troubles that burden your soul. Yearning vocals and an acoustic guitar is all that Matthew Daniel Siskin needed to begin writing songs as Gambles in August 2012 to let unsaid thoughts of the past few years surface. Siskin recently released his debut effort Trust via his Secretly Canadian imprint, GMBLS.
“Was it a dip in the ocean or a dive from your life? (I’d still like to know)” Gambles has secrets he wants to share but you need to be the decoder. His tumblr Gmbls.com features a messy dada collage of cryptic texts reflecting his lyricism style. Each track is shaped to be ambiguous in its language allowing you to fill in the blanks with your own stories.
Siskin’s voice seems weary but persistently strong as it crackles slowly releasing a heavy sadness. “Angel” seems to be the exception to the gloomy folk that saturates the record and seems to be a celebration of a close one. Variances of loss are explored throughout: “So I Cry Out” tries to make sense of lost time and “Safe Side” sends regards to the search for an identity and its consequences
Gambles will be in Minneapolis at the 7th Street Entry with Those Darlins and live in-studio on Radio K at approximately at 5 pm CST on October 25th.
By: Ryan Glenn
Frankie Rose is back and building on their strong foundation of synth heavy dream-pop, the crew takes us in a whole different direction.
Frankie Rose bursts onto the scene last year with their amazing release, Interstellar, and continues on their cosmic travels with this years Herein Wild. Although the variables have been tweaked a bit, the formula is still basically the same. By building on their strong foundation of synth heavy dream-pop, the Frankie Rose crew takes us in a whole different direction.
While Interstellar was steeped heavily in synth filled dream-pop, Herein Wild adds a bit more of an organic element to the sound of Frankie Rose. Gone are the joyous and upbeat sounds of “Interstellar” and “Daylight Sky”. It may be the harshest change between the two albums, but it certainly doesn’t take away from the strengths of Herein Wild. Frankie Rose is often related to the cosmic plain (perhaps perpetuated by naming an album Interstellar) and while their debut was all about the fun of whipping through space at whiz-bang progress, the sophomore effort reminds us how lonely and desolate it can be while doing so. Most invoking of this tone is the track “Cliffs as High”, a stark and quiet single in comparison to anything else released by the band. It gives an idea of what Frankie Rose could do without the dream-pop formula they used so well. The string arrangement is a nice addition to the familiar sounds. The track also feels like the first song group leader Frankie worked totally on her own. It is mostly Frankie on her own with a minimalistic accompaniment. The song calls upon influences of Bjork, and could be looked at as a further progression of where they are going as a group.
For fans of Interstellar there is still plenty of enjoyment to be had here listening to the new collection of songs. Don’t be worried about the change in pace on the record, it is still a wonderfully crafted album that takes away the sense of exploration and opts to instead take a moment for self-reflection. As with “Cliffs as High” the record often feels like Frankie alone drifting listlessly. Also this time around instead of singing of blazing across the interstellar highway, the travel is a little slower to take some time for reflection. As on “Sorrow” Frankie brings up plenty of things that would be considered full of sorrow. However, instead of facings these things head on with action, Frankie asks “Why? Don’t ask me why.” It is not an uncaring or callous answer, rather a blunt statement of what could be wrong. There is a lot of sorrow everywhere, yet we rarely know why. While Interstellar was the innocence of birth, youth, and exploration, Herein Wild is the realization of adulthood and the all encompassing lifestyle and questions that come along with that. It is certainly a grown up and darker record, but by no means it is worth skipping out of fear of growing up.
6 Feet Beneath the Moon
XL / True Panther
By: Samantha Sacks
I first saw King Krule perform at Pitchfork Music Festival in 2012. He was playing on the Blue Stage as people began trickling into the shaded area. At this point, he was just beginning to receive much recognition for his blues-meets-soul sound and an impressively deep voice. He was barely 17 years old, but Archy Marshall’s performance had lured in many only after a few songs. Many might have been lured in, I know I was, by his exceptional ability to communicate confounding emotional maturity. Earlier that year I remember returning to his November self-titled EP over and over again.
6 Feet Beneath the Moon is Marshall’s first studio LP, and it’s apparent the young musician is no amateur. The album is extremely versatile, as it encompasses aspects of blues, jazz, rap, hip-hop, along with electronic elements, seamlessly throughout. King Krule is also doing more of what lured us to him the first place. King Krule was most noteworthy for his take on blues and soul, but this album definitely suggests that there’s a lot more to his craft. In tracks like, “Neptune Estate,” hip-hop drumbeats become prominent as Archy does a melodic rap. Not unlike some of the more popular hip-hop and rap albums of late an ensemble of horns are featured giving this track that jazz edge that he became so well known for. 6 Feet Below the Moon seems to be an expansion, a reach for something better, and close to something greater.
The album begins with the track, “Easy Easy” which is more reminiscent of his first EP and earlier work. The track is simple yet powerful as it opens with just Marshall’s voice and a repeating bass line. With lyrics like, “Cause if you going through hell, we just keep going,” it only becomes clearer how emotional the song is.
“Has This Hit?” is a more jazz-influenced track with eerie melodies and echo-y guitar effects. Reverbed vocals come in and out making the eerie mood more prominent, yet ethereal. Electronic elements become more prevalent in the track “Foreign 2”. Synths and fast drumbeats make this track a lot more fast paced before it fades out.
The eeriness continues through the album in the form of layered, effected vocals and melodies that, at times, seem slightly conflicting. One could even describe it as darkwave. The songs also seem to alternate in speed; slower, more eerie bits are followed by fast-paced rhythms, horns, and angrier lyrics. The album shares its extreme moments openly and without restraint much like a teenager going through mood swings. However, it is the finesse by which the listener is brought through motif after motif, that makes 6 Feet Beneath the Moon more a coming of age- less of a tantrum. The last track, “Bathed In Grey,” fades in as it concludes the darker mood of the album. The jazzy piano compliments the high-hat of the hip-hop drumbeat. The track slowly fades out as the jazzy piano melody continues into the expanse.
By: Abbie Gobeli
“Energy, honesty, heart, and spirit” is what comprises “Forever” according to Holograms. “Forever,” their second releases emerged after a tumultuous year and half consisting of touring, losing their jobs, losing some sanity, and returning to their home in Sweden. Andreas Lagerstrom, and Anton Strandberg have fallen on tough times include large debt but they were determined to work hard to make their new record happen.
“A Sacred State” introduces you to the increasing intensity that builds throughout the record. The duo wanted to capture the feeling of playing in a church to grip a larger sound. The single, “Flesh and Bone” quickly follows tying in with the wrath that is depicting in the cover art, courtesy of French painter, William Bouguereau’s “Dante and Virgil in Hell (1850)”.
Other mythical stories are incorporated in the track, “Attestupa” which means “a place to strike down your kin.” It is a Norweigan myth where an elder of a family will jump off of a cliff if they are unable to support themselves due to sickness or old age. They do this because they don’t want to burden their family to take care of them.
Despite the dark themes that permeate “Forever”, Holograms attacks the darkness by finding a light at the end of the tunnel with tracks including, “Meditations”. Holograms will be performing in Minneapolis on December 11th at the 7th Street Ent
A Sacred State
Flesh and Bone
Laughter Breaks the Silece
A Blaze on the Hillside
Lay Us Down
By Jared Hemming
The most powerful element of Repave is it’s turbulence, lack of repetitive order, and surprising swells.
With Volcano Choir’s second album, Repave, songwriter and vocalist Justin Vernon accomplishes the rare feat of quality rising above quantity. No short order considering that, from the time the creative force behind Bon Iver splashed across endless blogs with For Emma, Forever Ago in 2008, the barrage of content that’s arrived since includes: a second album (and Grammy award) for Bon Iver, collaborations with Kanye West, Anaïs Mitchell, Gayngs, The Shouting Matches, The Eau Claire Memorial Jazz I Ensemble, a hilarious erotic series, and, of course, Volcano Choir’s debut: Unmap.
For this sophomore effort as Volcano Choir, Vernon once again calls pals (and fellow Wisconsinites) Collections of Colonies of Bees for another round. This time to record a soulful batch of tunes soaked in Vernon’s rich baritone. Though artists in similar alt-folk/indie rock molds may have attempted something more bona fide to the genera; Volcano Choir have clearly avoided some acoustic-guitar swells, strained vocals, and winding legatos that have defined other artists this year. Instead, they opt for varied and expansive sound-scapes and occasional surprises to include both acoustic and jarring electric guitars, swirls and blips of synthesizer and electric piano, an ocean-bottom bass and deep waves of splashing, powerful percussion. The most powerful element of Repave is it’s turbulence, lack of repetitive order, and surprising swells.
Though at times clarity can be difficult to discern from complicated lyricism and the spontaneity of composition, Repave positions Vernon on the horizon of a mature voyage still propelled by urgency and mystery. Take, for example, in “Acetate,” when he sings “you found me on the beach, I was resting there for weeks/I will never cauterize, I will never fortify/I wonder if I’ve recovered now.” Recording double-tracked vocals, Vernon sings these words as though he is in an argument with himself, having just realized a pain and hoping he’s finally awoken from it.
Aside from “Acetate,” highlights from Repave include the album-opener “Tiderays,” the glossy, synth-tinged “Comrades,” and the brooding, reflective “Byegone,” in which Vernon looks back on a lively youth as a professional musician on the road. Told through stunning imagery and a tone that attempts to find definition somewhere within the confusing distortion that reminiscence and nostalgia provide. When he cries “hold keys to a Cuban flight you won’t ever ride/…Set sail!,” Vernon can’t decide if he feels removed from his life, defined in the public eye, or if he chooses to embrace the success he’s had. Either way, the rewards from Vernon’s unrelenting productivity extend into Repave; where the awe of nature and the inner conflict of introspection can complement each other to make something beautiful.
Volcano Choir will be playing in Minneapolis on Friday, October 18th, at the First Avenue Mainroom.
Written By: Alex Simpson
While many have moved on to the latest and greatest chill-wave imitators, Greene has underwent much maturation (for the better), and his latest full-length Paracosm is evidence of that.
Fame came almost instantly for electronic producer Ernest Greene (Washed Out). His lo-fi debut Life of Leisure earned him a record deal with Sub Pop and regular play at hipster retail chains across the planet, not to mention "Feel It All Around" was featured in the opening credits of the quirky hit series Portlandia. But in the last four years, while many have moved on to the latest and greatest chill-wave imatators, Green has underwent much maturation (for the better), and his latest full length Paracosm is evidence of that.
One of the biggest surprises on Washed Out's sprawling sophomore full-length is the use of more live instrumentation. Paracosm flaunts over four dozen instruments, more than you'll hear on the last two Washed Out records combined. You may not be able to pick them out individually, but some of the dreamiest tones on the record come from old keyboards such as the Mellotron and Optigan. It's certainly worth mentioning that Greene and producer Ben Allen (Animal Collective, Deerhunter, M.I.A.) managed to make these obscurities work with harps, bird noises, country samples, and many other interesting choices.
Additionaly, Greene continues to blur his words on this record, and it's still working in his favor. In most instances, the listener demands the right to sing along, but Greene's lack of enunciation allows his vocal to float over the top of beats like some obscure synthesizer. It also allows the listener to "feel" his songs rather than dissect their parts or overall meaning. That implied "feeling" might be the only thing that is intrisically chill-wave, or at least for Greene it is- as we see his sound mature.
Paracosm is full of highlights -- "It All Feels Right", "Don't Give Up" and "Great Escape" are all fine examples. However Paracosm seems to be more of a whole work rather than a collection of singles. One should consider giving the whole record many complete spins. The lack of a smash single makes Paracosm a more cohesive, rewarding listening experience. Greene also keeps the listener within his little world, or paracosm. By making use of natural sound- like birds chirping and wind- in "Entrance" and "Falling Back" and the crowd noise in "It All Feels Right" and "Don't Give Up" adds to the album's overall awareness of setting.
In regards to past Washed Out albums: just because you can't feel it all around doesn't mean you can't feel it. Paracosm is far from Life of Leisure or even Within and Without, but it's the difference that makes it interesting and fun to listen to. It's the reflection of a matured musician who is very comfortable in his place, and that always makes for a strong album.
Washed Out will be visiting Minneapolis, September 12th to play a show at the First Avenue Mainroom you can buy tickets here; more tour dates available below. Check out "Great Escape" streaming and available for free download at the top of this review.
September 2, 2013
Club 9one9, Victoria BC
September 3, 2013
Fortune Sound Club, Vancouver Canada
September 5, 2013
W.O.W. Hall, Eugene OR
September 6, 2013
Mississippi Studios, Portland OR
September 8, 2013
Cesar Chavez Park, Sacramento CA
Launch Music Festival!
September 10, 2013
Fox Theater (CO), Boulder CO
September 12, 2013
First Avenue, Minneapolis MN
September 13, 2013
Metro, Chicago IL
September 15, 2013
Opera House (ON), Toronto Ontario
September 16, 2013
Corona Theatre, Montreal Canada
September 18, 2013
Terminal Five, New York City NY
September 19, 2013
Union Transfer, Philadelphia PA
September 20, 2013
Wilbur Theater, Boston MA
September 21, 2013
Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia MD
Virgin Mobile Freefest
September 23, 2013
Cats Cradle, Carrboro NC
September 24, 2013
Georgia Theatre, Athens GA
Radio K favorites like FIDLAR, Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall have helped to establish (but not entrench) this code in the past year. Each abandons it when necessary, but certain similarities between them and other garage punk acts cannot be denied. Listening to John Barrett, under the name Bass Drum of Death, map the landscape of his particular garage on his new self-titled LP is instantly gratifying when he adheres and continuously gratifying when he abandons.
It's a funny thing when a band self-titles an album that is not their first. GB City came out two years ago and the music that Barrett has churned up since the debut is apparently more deserving of his band's namesake. It's probably unwise to ascribe symbolic weight to the title of an album that sounds as reckless and off the cuff as Bass Drum of Death, but here we are.
Recklessness is important to garage punk and the album is reckless in the ways we've come to expect from the genre's best. Tracks like “Crawling After You” and “I Wanna Be Forgotten” are blistering and overly noisy. Barrett's unrestrained wails reach impressive heights on “Fines Lines.” One of the songs is called “Bad Reputation,” either an homage to Joan Jett or a disregard for the song of same name (maybe a little of both).
Bass Drum of Death
Bass Drum of Death
Written by: Griffin Fillipitch
There is a pretty stringent, sometimes contradictory code of conduct for anyone making a garage punk album. It needs to have guitar lines that are flimsy and determined at the same time. It needs a sneer from a lead singer that sounds pissed and indifferent at the same time. It needs sonics that are fuzzy and piercing at the same time. It needs to be fast. The rhymes should be easy.
There is a different kind of recklessness here too, though. It comes from the variety of speeds that Barrett can operate at, and the ease with which he slips in and out of them. His brand of garage rock is most notable for being willing to go a little slower. Almost half of the songs on the album last around four minutes, an unheard of figure for bands with similar sounds. “Such a Bore” is loose enough to accelerate to a sprint after two minutes of jaunt, and then slow back down again.
Most of the songs are unhurried in this way, but they never give way to sonic sludge, and they never get boring. A feeling abounds in the album that anything can happen. Anything doesn't happen. Bluesy riffs drift in and out, tempos change, but everything hits super hard. It's a straightforward record that keeps its options open.
Night Moves @ First Avenue Mainroom
January 26th, 2013
The Icehouse was packed to the gills on Saturday night for the homecoming of local group Night Moves, a band that received major buzz this last year after signing with Domino Records and rerecording their latest album, Colored Emotions. With so few local bands receiving national buzz in our music scene, it’s refreshing to see these guys getting the widespread attention they deserve and being able to deliver their sultry country-rock sound to audiences outside of Minnesota.
Despite the long, frigid line at the door, attendees were warmed up with local country-rock jammers Red Daughters, a group whose distinctly tight and thumping live sound created the perfect match to Night Moves’ delicate, spacey jams. The openers set a high standard for the night, ripping through a set of heavy, dank country-rock tunes that conjured influences of Cream, The Strokes, and the Allman Brothers. These guys have their live sound down to a science, and not a bluesy guitar lick, organ squelch, or saxophone scream was wasted.
When Night Moves finally took the stage, there was a tender, sentimental feel to the start of their set. It’s been a while since they’ve played in the cities and they’ve never sounded better than this last Saturday night. The bass thumped, the guitars cooed and screamed, and John Pelant’s vocals soared over the mix, sounding as confident (and dare I say “sexy”?) as he’s ever sounded. Blasting through cuts from their record, such as the heavy jammer “Horses” or anthems like “Country Queen” and “Headlights”, these guys have gained tons of confidence but haven’t lost any of their passion and quirkiness. Although they’ve moved past their status as local music staple into a nationally-recognized indie rock band, there aren’t many bands that sound as good with home-court advantage as Night Moves, and the Icehouse on Saturday provided a perfect venue to remember why they made it big in the first place.
Written by Andy Engstrom, Radio K volunteer.
Gojira with The Devin Townsend Project & The Atlas Moth @ Mill City Nights
January 14th, 2013
I have been to a few shows at downtown Minneapolis’ Mill City Nights since their rebranding, and I must say as far as sound quality goes – that place is made for metal. Real metal.
It is quite possible that nothing is more ‘metal’ than Gojira (the native Japanese Romanized spelling of Godzilla), the most legendary kaiju, or giant monster, of Japanese cinema. The creature rises out of the ocean, mutated by nuclear radiation, devastating seaside villages, then Tokyo, bringing the terrors of the Second Great War back into the minds of the Japanese populace. As horrific as this is, its well, uh… metal (for further definitions of ‘metal’ see Adult Swim’s hit series, Metalocalypse).
Well a few young gentlemen with long hair and fast fingers from the southwestern French village, Ondres, realized this – and named their metal project in honor of the beast, almost as a virgin sacrifice. With brothers Joe and Mario Duplantier on rhythm guitar / vocals and drums respectively, Christian Andreu on lead guitar, and Jean-Michel Labadie on bass, Gojira has completed five studio albums and three live DVDs, with no lineup changes (and wrote a bloody song called “Flying Whales” – how neat is that?). The band has toured in support of legends such as Cannibal Corpse, Children of Bodom, Lamb of God, and Behemoth among others. In June of 2012, Gojira released their fifth studio album and their Roadrunner Records debut, L’Enfant Sauvage (which translates to ‘The Wild Child’). This record turned out to be, easily, one of 2012’s best metal releases, bending sub-genres with its unique composition and philosophical lyrics and subtext – tackling introspective dissonance on the meaning of freedom.
Monday night, January 14, 2013, marked the first evening for Gojira’s2013 U.S. tour in support of the album, with opening acts The (LEGENDARY) Devin Townsend Project and Chicago’s Atlas Moth. The event kicked off at Minneapolis’ own Mill City Nights. The opening acts were solid, and Devin Townsend’s notorious stage presence was indeed present. However, Gojira.Gojira, man.
After a grueling sound-check, anticipation ran high. A black cover was pulled off an enormous backlit set piece of L’enfantSauvage’s humanoid album image, and the band immediately dove into the opening track for the album, “Explosia.” Gojira is a band known for merging traditional progressive elements with a heavy technical influence, encompassing uncommon song structures, unusual time signatures, and the absence of the standard verse, course, verse structure. Between the opening track, and the second, “Flying Whales,” Gojira’s own stage presence, rapid choreographed stage shifts and passionate playing, reflected all of the aforementioned informalities of their music.
Throughout Gojira’s set, the band performed near perfect renditions of some of their most complicated material of their latter four albums, such as From Mars To Sirius’s “Backbone,” and The Way of all Flesh’s “The Art of Dying”. Though, those who may be familiar with the details of their studio releases would not be disappointed, as at various points the band reversed familiar scales, or shifted octaves slightly. The lighting reflected the process of the arrangements, with deep blue-greens at slower points, and frantic seizure-inductive true whites flashing through heavy rhythms. During the band’s fifth song, the title track of L’Enfant Sauvage, Gojira’s background set piece became more visually intoxicating, projecting violent black and white images through the negative space replicating trees of neural pathways. Gojira only stumbled once through their set, during the sixth track “The Art of Dying,” where a minor step-up caused them to restart the song’s intro. The rest of the performance was delivered with an efficiency only often seen at the level of a professional orchestra. At one point in the set, brothers Joe and Mario traded instruments, and surprisingly with near perfection – and Mario breathed the Devil’s tongue through vocals in true death metal fashion. Gojira concluded their set with “The Axe,” only to come to encore with The Way of All Flesh’s “Vacuity.”
All in all, this was one of the strongest metal performances I have seen to date. Furthermore, one of the best sounding and well thought out of concerts I have had the pleasure to attend. Gojira, while at the pinnacle of their career thus far, will hopefully continue to revive the metal scene with their unique perspective on the genre. If you ever enjoyed any era of heavy music, Gojira, one of the leaders of contemporary metal, is a band you must hear. If the true beast set your town ablaze, you wouldn’t miss it – so do not pass up a chance to see their set in the future.
Written by Morgan Luther, Radio K volunteer.
This Friday, January 18th at 10 a.m., Radio K will be playing Toro y Moi's upcoming album Anything In Return in its entirety. Tune in for the rare opportunity to hear the highly anticipated new full-length from this unique synth-funk producer. See the Facebook event for more information.
Gospel Gossip @ Turf Club
November 3rd, 2012
The 4 band bonanza Saturday night at the Turf Club celebrating Gospel Gossip’s newest studio release, Atlantic Blue, began with a poppy whimper, instead of a bang. Early attendees were warmed by the pleasant, crunchy and casually danceable trio Teenage Moods. Not much love here, but not much hate either, they were a mildly good band to open a long set.
Leisure Birds followed, and I was almost too blinded by the reflections from the keyboardist’s leather shorts to be aware of much music coming from the stage. After my eyes drifted to the lead singer’s Tyrolean hunting hat, the trance was broken, and I was able to decode the music. As the four men that comprised the band crept closer together, an eerie, groovy sound began to radiate from the stage. Some of it sounded like it was originating from the bottom of a well, but the rhythm and bass were powerful, driving the melody that hovered over it like a mist above a bog. I’d wished I seen this band before Halloween, when their powers would no doubt be at their peak.
Magic Castles sounded like a watery, modern rock version of Neil Young. The musicians stood much like statues as they played, the music seemed to emerge from their instruments unbidden, as if the band knew that if they stood there, holding their instruments, swaying slightly, the music would come out as a byproduct of their boredom or loneliness.
Finally, at about 1AM, the headliners take the stage. Gospel Gossip rocks, but they rock like a forlorn & lost lover searching for clothes their ex forgot or left behind in their shared apartment. Sarah Nienaber’s twitches and convulsions that accompany her playing could easily be confused for the same involuntary movements one exhibits during a breakup fight.
Nienaber’s guitar sounds like it’s yearning for something that no one can give it. During the set she falls down, as if she is overcome with emotion, or lost in a sea of shimmering distortion. It’s such a part of the usual set that you can’t tell if it’s faked or genuine – and it doesn’t matter either way, it’s become part of Gospel Gossip’s captivating charm.
Ollie Moltaji (drums) and Justin Plank (bass) provide the structure of the music, the frame of the building that Nienaber’s guitar jumps off of. Each have a quick smirk, adding an unreality to the situation – while one is going through a breakup, the other two look on as if amused.
I’ll use a hackneyed metaphor for Gospel Gossip’s music: the rhythm section is the earth, heavy, solid, deeply melodic, the guitar and the feedback it creates are the clouds, sometimes raining, sometimes moving under the light from Nienaber’s voice, which is the sun. Gospel Gossip rocks geologic; sometimes moving with sadness, sometimes triumphantly, but either way, always full of strength and force.
Written by Damian Johansson, Radio K volunteer
Grieves @ First Avenue Mainroom
November 3rd, 2012
Seattle-based rapper Grieves paid a visit to Minneapolis over the weekend to play an all-ages show at the one and only First Avenue – his first time EVER at the historic venue. Accompanied by the multitalented Budo and a newcomer by the name of Connor on stage, the trio exceeded the expectations of die-hard Grieves fans with their energizing instrumentation and buoyant stage presence. What some people may not know about Grieves is that he is, in fact, a huge goofball. While his lyrics may lead listeners to believe that he is a downer, his charismatic stage persona showed another side of his personality. He came across as very at ease, engaging the audience with jokes as well as stories to provide background for some of his songs. Budo also chimed in from time to time, throwing in his two cents to add to the on-stage chemistry between the three performers.
Speaking of Budo, wow. That dude is talented. He played electric guitar, keys and the trumpet throughout the night, showcasing why Grieves decided to team up with him on the brink of their success several years ago. They are the perfect combo in the studio as well as on stage; Budo rocks the instruments while Grieves slays the microphone. Not only were his intricate lyrics performed with precision, his singing was pitch-perfect. The songs in their hour and a half set sounded just like the album versions, which can be considered quite an accomplishment in this day and age.
Grieves played tracks from all three of his albums, “Irreversible,” “88 Keys & Counting,” and his most recent release “Together/Apart.” I think it is safe to say that his older stuff received a vast amount of audience approval; the crowd went nuts and sang along for songs from “Irreversible,” such as “I Ate Your Soul” and “Scar Gardens.” His new stuff got the crowd moving as well. Fan favorites off his latest album like “Lightspeed” and the hit tune “On the Rocks” were very well done, and were much more exciting to hear in a live setting.
If you ever get the chance to see Grieves and Budo, do it! They are the real deal. Their performances are polished and natural. They clearly love what they do for a living, possessing an energetic outlook that allows them to connect with their audience instantly. If you have never heard of Grieves, you can check him out on the Rhymesayers website or at the independent, local hip-hop store Fifth Element in downtown Minneapolis.
Written by Luke Hochrein, Radio K volunteer
Raekwon @ First Avenue Mainroom
November 4th, 2012
With the first annual Twin Cities Sneaker.Art Xchange hosted by Studiiyo23 by day, Sunday night converged sneaker enthusiast and hip hop heads together at a First Ave after party to rock to Raekwon the Chef of the legendary Wu-Tang Clan. In a major surprise, there were relatively little in the crowd that night, not typical of a show usually done by a Wu-Tang artist. Despite First Ave not being as packed as it probably should have been, it lead Raekwon to have a crowd engaging performance, even taking requests at certain points.
The set consisted of snippets of songs from his nineteen year catalog. The Shaolin (Staten Island) rapper brought out some of his classic verses from Wu-Tang’s debut album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), starting off with it’s signature song and street motto, “C.R.E.A.M.” and adding “Protect Ya Neck” later down the set. Raekwon then moved onto another staple hip hop album with his solo debut, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx..., which showcased his drug-laden mafioso verses in “Criminology,” “Heaven & Hell,” and “Glaciers of Ice” to the multisyllabic rhymes filled with hip hop quotables in “Verbal Intercourse” and to his suave fly-guy-get-gettin’-heavy-on-the-Wu-slang verse in “Ice Cream.” The set had it’s awkward moments as Raekwon pointed the mic to an unresponsive crowd hoping that they’d sing along which lead to pauses in some songs and some strange back-and-forths between Rae and the crowd. Nevertheless, he hyped the small crowd back up with shoutouts to the late great Ol’ Dirty Bastard, a fellow member of the Wu-Tang Clan, and even performed ODB’s hit, “Shimmy Shimmy Ya.”
Raekwon did provide newer songs as well, tapping into his 2009 sequel of his debut and critically acclaimed comeback album with Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Pt. II, where he performed his singles “New Wu” and “Have Mercy.” He also performed the title track from his 2011 album, Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang, as well songs from his latest mixtapes, 2011’s Dope On The Table EP and 2012’s Unexpected Victory. After an hour of Raekwon cooking up hot verses for his fans, living up to being called the Chef, he served up four more songs in an encore performance ending the show with “Black Mozart.”
With the show having its odd moments and surprising tiny audience, it probably wasn’t the best experience for Raekwon and fans alike expecting a hyped up performance. Although, the show felt more like an after party than a concert, Raekwon still showed First Ave some of his talents and provided us with some of that raw and showed how Wu-Tang still throws down.
Written by Mahad Mohamed, Radio K volunteer
P.O.S. @ First Avenue Mainroom
October 26th, 2012
As if it wasn’t already known that Minneapolis is home to one of the most distinctive, inspiring and supportive hip hop communities in the nation, everyone in attendance at First Avenue on Friday for the “We Don’t Even Live Here” release party reasserted that fact to one another by rocking out and having a great time. Despite his ailing kidneys, P.O.S. delivered yet another hand-raising, jaw-dropping performance. He had to cancel the rest of his tour but P.O.S. still brought his A-game to First Ave, performing new tracks and also a few old favorites.
Less than a week had gone by since the release of his latest album “We Don’t Even Live Here,” yetalmost everyone knew the words to the new songs and sang/rapped along. It seemed like everyone had one of his singles, “F**k Your Stuff,” memorized from start to finish. The crowd went nuts when fellow Doomtree member Sims made his first appearance of the night to perform “They Can’t Come” with the rapper of the evening.The song of the night, no question, had to be “Get Down” featuring Mike Mictlan, who was also one of the opening acts. P.O.S. and Mictlan got the entire crowd to jump up and down together, turning what was already one hell of a rap show into an all-out dance party.
After performing “We Don’t Even Live Here” front to back (with the exception of a pair of songs), P.O.S. dug deep into his repertoire of songs and busted out “Music for Shoplifting,” a classic from his first album. He was then accompanied by the entire Doomtree squad for “Low Light Low Life” as well as a few songs from Doomtree’s latest, “No Kings,” such as “Bolt Cutter” and “Bangarang.” P.O.S. closed out his show with “Purexed,” leaving all of those in attendance elated and quite satisfied.
It must also be mentioned that openers the Tribe and Big Cats!, Audio Perm, and Mike Mictlan all did a great job. There is no doubt that P.O.S. is one of the best live performers around, and it requires a lot of courage and passion to be able to open for him and rap in front of an audience with such high standards for hip hop music. For those of you have never seen a P.O.S. show, I highly encourage you to go to one when he is back at full strength. For those of you who have seen a P.O.S. show, but just couldn’t make it to First Avenue last Friday night and need a fix, do not fret. Doomtree Blowout VIII is just around the corner.Everyone here at Radio K is wishing P.O.S. a speedy recovery so he can get back out on tour and up on stage.
Written by Luke Hochrein, Radio K Volunteer
Beach House @ First Avenue Mainroom
October 9th, 2012
Baltimore-based duet Beach House entranced a sold out crowd at First Avenue’s Mainroom on Tuesday. If you weren’t in attendance, you could probably hear lead singer Victoria Legrand’s transcendent vocals from your St. Paul apartment.
Despite her dominating voice, Legrand spent the entire show towards the back of the stage, saying few words to the crowd. Guitarist Alex Scally was equally modest with his guitar work, cutting loose on his baby blue stratocaster for just a few brief moments. Older songs such as “Gila” and “Zebra” were warmly received. “Walk in the Park” was the slowest beat of the night, yet everyone still nodded in satisfaction throughout. It all built up to the highly danceable “Myth”, the single from their latest release.
In their encore, Beach House played “10 Mile Stereo” and “Irene”, two of their louder, more aggressive songs. On “Irene”, Legrand began headbanging like an eighties metalhead, and rightfully so. Beach House has come a long way from their humble debut in 2006. Get your tickets early next time; they’ll be selling out First Avenue for many years to come.
Written by Alex Simpson, Radio K volunteer
A$AP Rocky @ First Avenue Mainroom
October 13th, 2012
Saturday night at First Avenue's mainroom featured one of the most exciting hip-hop bills Minneapolis will see in 2012: Danny Brown, Schoolboy Q, and A$AP Rocky with the entire A$AP Mob. All are relative newcomers with few releases under their collective belts but all received substantial acclaim for releases in 2011 and 2012. Many were there to see Detroit native Brown, who played plenty of selections from his fantastically explicit mixtape XXX with such passion and energy that most around me agreed that he would probably be the finest performer of the evening. Schoolboy Q came out shortly thereafter and ran through a set that would be great by any other standard but paled in comparison to the ferocious performance before it. Shortly before 11 the house lights went dim for Harlem native A$AP Rocky in his first ever Minneapolis date. Two members of his crew, dubbed the A$AP Mob, entered the stage wearing gas masks. A figure in an orange facemask ran out and quickly rattled off a few verses before pulling the mask up to reveal that it was Rocky himself. The rest of the Mob emerged shortly thereafter and breezed through songs from the tepidly received mixtape Lords Never Worry, which generally failed to excite the crowd, who were primarily there to see the performer whose name was on the bill: Rocky. After clearing the stage for a brief interlude segment which continued the theme of warfare, Rocky emerged to finally perform some favorites off of his 2011 mixtape LiveLoveA$AP which finally ignited the sold-out crowd. Tracks like "Wassup", "Brand New Guy" and "Kissin Pink" sounded massive through the venue's new Electro-Voice sound system. There were a couple other choice cuts from the mixtape that were performed before Rocky left the stage and the house lights abruptly went up, making it apparent that there would be no encore. Rocky's set halfway delivered on what myself and the audience hoped for, and the unfamiliar material was at least performed with a lot of chutzpah, but it was difficult to stand up next to the brilliantly spirited set that began the evening from Danny Brown.
Written by Tom Steffes, Radio K volunteer.
Grizzly Bear @ First Avenue Mainroom
October 1st, 2012
On October 1st, the baroque-pop quartet, Grizzly Bear returned to Minneapolis to play a show at First Avenue. Known for their lush orchestrations, lulling melodies, and tight harmonies, Grizzly Bear began their set with just what the crowd expected. The four members quickly sank into their years of gig experience and delivered sheer energy while maintaining precise execution.
Grizzly Bear’s power comes from their ingenuity. This ingenuity was a trait that was explored and showcased in the show. Midway through the set, the band played one of their most epic tunes, “Lullabye”. The juxtaposition of the odd, rhythmic, melodic fragments layered on top of the low shelf drones surely warmed the hearts of the audience. Although the complexity in their music has caused several people’s minds to twist into knots, a concert goer can still nod his or her head to the rhythm.
Above all, the lasting impression that the band made on the crowd was their ability to play different instruments. All four members of Grizzly Bear sang at one point in the set (if not all at the same time). Chis Taylor frequently switched from bass to clarinet to flute and back. Furthermore, Ed Droste switched from autoharp to guitar to omnichord from song to song. Who knows what more this band can do in the future?
All in all, this concert was a fantastic one that consisted of great musicians who were able to fully meld their orchestrations into hum-able pop songs. It was one of the best concerts I’ve witnessed so far and I urge you to attend their concert when they next stop in town.
Written by Ben Chin, Radio K volunteer
Lil B @ The Cabooze
September 28th, 2012
Berkeley, California rapper Lil B took the stage a few minutes after 8pm Friday night at the Cabooze in what will undoubtedly go down as one of the most unusual concerts of 2012. He was joined by nobody but a bouncer. No DJ, no live instruments. No stage design or props. Such a large stage might seem awkward to be occupied by only one person, but his personality immediately filled the entire room.
Time for some background info. Lil B is the alias of Brandon McCartney, a 23 year old rapper who first achieved success as a member of The Pack, whose 2006 song "Vans" became an anthem for the Bay Area hyphy movement. Since then he's fashioned himself in to one of the most unique and original players in the 21st hip-hop game. He calls himself The BasedGod, championing a state of mind of being "based". He's released dozens of mixtapes, including one with 855 tracks in July. He's spoken at NYU. He's recorded probably over 2,000 songs by now. Just stating these things doesn't even come close to illustrating his persona, so I'll just get to reviewing the show.
You don't have to be a hardcore fan of the BasedGod to know that he has two distinct personalities - warped pseudo-charicature of hip-hop stereotypes (the side that gets the YouTube hits) and deeply personal visionary with a sense of wonder at all around him (the side that makes good albums). The two are polar opposites. Most of his releases tend to be distinctly one or the other. Friday night he was unquestionably the first of the two. He was happy to play viral favorites such as "Ellen Degeneres" and "Swag Jerry Rice", which got multiple hundred people to chant "I think I'm Jerry Rice!" in unison. He trotted around stage with a huge smile on his face and would occasionally strike triumphant body-builder poses. Between songs he seemed to adopt the second of the aforementioned personas. Shortly after his set began he acknowledged the show's All Ages status and apologized for using profanity while there may be youngsters in the crowd (and there were a few). Shortly after he mentioned that this would be a friendly concert and he didn't want to see anyone in the crowd fighting. Later on he got the crowd to repeat after him: "I love life!" "I'm happy with my life!" "I love you!" Towards the end of the performance he told the audience to appreciate their parents ("shouts out to parents!")
This was when the show took an unexpected turn. He had just begun playing one of his signature songs and what was presumably one of his last of the evening, "Wanton Soup", when he invited the crowd to join him on stage. It wasn't long before it was so packed that he didn't have enough room to actually perform the song. A moment later he cut the song and asked where his sunglasses had gone - apparently someone had taken them off his face. He mentioned that although he loves all of us, he couldn't go on performing without his sunglasses (kind of like Belushi in The Blues Brothers, he only took them off during the performance once for one particularly heartfelt message of his appreciation for the audience). The house lights went up and he promptly exited the stage. He re-emerged a few minutes later with the sunglasses on and apologized for being so "Hollywood" and that he'll never do such a foolish thing again because he realized how insignificant sunglasses are compared to his adoring fanbase. With the house lights still on he went through a few more songs but it wasn't long before he set down the microphone as instrumental tracks played so that he could sign various items being thrust at him by his rabid crowd. He got down in the crowd for a few minutes to take some photos before finally exiting.
Aside from the slight hiccup towards the end, this was a thoroughly exciting performance with as much positive energy as you can find at a hip-hop concert in 2012. For those who have been familiar with Lil B's internet presence for a number of years it was simply surreal to finally see him performing in front of us. Just once, internet nerds and hardcore hip-hop heads united for one evening of peace, love and swag.
Written by Tom Steffes, Radio K volunteer
Built To Spill @ First Avenue Mainroom
Setepmber 19th, 2012
With no introduction, Built To Spill launched directly into their set Wednesday night after sound-checking their own instruments in clear view of the audience. The show kicked off with “Traces,” the second track from the bands 2006 release, You In Reverse. Doug Martsch, arguably the heart and soul of Built To Spill, took center stage and played the majority of the show with his head down and eyes closed, only popping up to sing vocals while his rapidly-tapping right leg sent a wiggle through his body that left his head bobbling. At one point during “Reasons,” a pleased smirk washed across his face as the crowd roared for more.
A full house packed with people of varying ages cheered loudly between songs, with some of the loudest outbursts heard during fan favorites such as “The Plan” and “You Were Right” from 1999’s Keep It Like A Secret. Only one of the songs in the setlist , the frenetic “Pat,” came from the bands most recent studio effort, There Is No Enemy, released in 2009. Otherwise, long-time fans got a healthy dose of well-played classics mixed with extended jams such as “Virginia Reel Around The Fountain,” from the live record Built To Spill released over 12 years ago.
Of course, what would a Built To Spill show be without an encore? Martsch and crew came back to the stage and were joined by the vocalists from their supporting acts, Terra Lopez of Sister Crayon and Jason Albertini of Helvetia (formerly of Duster) to play a cover of “Crimson and Clover,” made famous by Tommy James and the Shondells.
Though the band are not much for crowd work, Martsch did take a moment to thank the long-time fans who were around for the first show Built To Spill played in the Twin Cities 15 years ago at the 7th Street Entry. The show closed on a jammed-out version of “Broken Chairs,” the closing track on both Keep It Like A Secret and the Live record.
Since Built To Spill haven’t released a new record in nearly three years it might be hard to know when they will grace the stage of First Avenue again. But if the fact that the last time they played Minneapolis was just over a year ago, chances are pretty good that the combination of great music and a band that clearly love to play will bring Built To Spill back to our fair city in no time.
Written by Noel Clark, Radio K volunteer
Photo: Todd O'Dowd, Varsity Theater
Matthew Sweet @ Varsity Theater
September 18th, 2012
Matthew Sweet’s Girlfriend is finally 21-years-old. Yes, you read that right. But when I say girlfriend, I mean the classic 1991 record that put the 47-year-old Sweet on the Alternative Rock map. Tuesday night’s show at The Varsity Theater was a celebration of the Girlfriend record, with Sweet and his band playing the entire record, all 15 tracks of it, front to back.
The set list, as you can imagine, was ripped directly from the LP. Among the highlights early on in the show were the surprise guest guitarist Richard Lloyd, who played guitar on many of Girlfriend’s studio recordings and joined the band to perform “Evangeline,” and the album’s title track, which prompted those in attendance to shout along with the lyrics.
“That’s the end of side one,” said Sweet at one point, who, as a nod to the understandably older crowd, introduced side two by musing over his feelings of nostalgia “for vinyl in the 90s.” Sweet and his band played through to the end of the record, including the “three extra songs that come on after like, 90 seconds of silence or whatever,” and closed out the show with songs from the record 100% Fun, including the massive, crowd-pleasing “Sick of Myself.”
While the 90s vibe was alive and well in the sights and sounds that filled The Varsity, the encore brought fans a taste of the most recent release from Matthew Sweet in the form of “She Walks the Night” from 2011’s Modern Art. After a 20th anniversary tour that has lasted over a year, Sweet and his band have only a few more dates with Girlfriend before the inevitable, awkward moment when it’s time to take a break. Thankfully, Matthew Sweet fans will be able to appreciate a little Modern Art after a bittersweet, nostalgic trip down memory lane.
Written by Noel Clark, Radio K volunteer
Batman Live @ Xcel Energy Center
September 13th, 2012
Batman Live is a hard show to review. The show is two hours of action packed, stylized fun but offers little in terms of substance and may be a little overstuffed.
The story of Batman Live tracks the transformation of Dick Grayson into Batman’s young ward, Robin, after the death of his parents at the hands of the Joker (rewritten from the character’s usual origin story for the sake of a more self-contained plot). Also involved is a plot by the Joker to take over Arkham Asylum and release its inmates. However, this story never fully develops and seems to only exist to give the show’s rather sizable cast of villains something to do (Grant Morrison’s Batman: Arkham Asylum, this production is not).
That said, to emphasize the plot at all would be a disservice to the concept behind Batman Live. The show is entirely style over substance and takes a fair amount of suspension of disbelief to enjoy (Early on, Batman and Catwoman fight atop buildings which, if actually to scale, would be hundreds of yards apart, and the characters appear to have the ability to fly). Thankfully, the style is spot-on. While one-on-one combat sequences were occasionally a little stiff, the show shined in the choreography of larger groups, particularly when Batman takes on a number of the Joker’s orange baton wielding henchmen.
The show uses a bat-shaped screen for its backdrops. At various times throughout the show, the show uses this screen as something of a motion-comic, a feat which never ceased to grab my attention. These breaks provided a welcome injection of energy to a show too often slowed down by unnecessary pomp and stilted dialog. When the wants to convey Bruce Wayne’s inner turmoil and rage, it actually has the character explain to Dick Grayson that he is angry about his parents’ murder.
While Batman Live’s writing doesn’t offer much to its colorful cast of characters, many of the show’s performers make the most out of their limited opportunity. Of particular note is the wonderfully hamish and over-the-top take on the Riddler (I wasn’t given a cast list). Harley Quinn is also a delight in her role as comic relief. Oddly enough, the limited material seems to apply to the show’s titular character as well. Jack Walker never seems comfortable in his role as Batman or Bruce Wayne and is, unfortunately, given the bulk of the show’s clunky dialog.
None of this is to say Batman Live is unenjoyable or even a particularly bad show. I mentioned the show is hard to review because it’s not meant to be dissected in the same way Chris Nolan’s films are because it simply can’t hold up to the scrutiny. A good review should give readers the context they need to better appreciate the product, but there is not better appreciation in BatmanLive. There is no deeper level. It’s a shallow production that offers much in the way of visual aesthetics but adds nothing to the character of Batman. Kids will love the action in Batman Live, and Batman fans might too, just so long as they don’t expect too much out of it.
- It really seemed like the plot just got in the way. In order to get Dick Grayson into Wayne Manor, Police Commissioner Gordon actually forces Bruce Wayne to take the orphan in against his will. I’m not sure what legal authority he has to do this but at least it got Batman and Robin together. (Mitch)
- Another to add to the list of visual delights: Seeing the Joker’s blown up caricature on a hot air balloon. Between it and the inclusion of Harley Quinn, the show seems to draw a good amount of its Joker from the DC Animated Universe. (Mitch)
- At times, it’s totally aware of its limitations and acts tongue-in-cheek about the concept. But this didn’t seem to always be the case, as some scenes may have taken a little too seriously. This confused the issue when trying to decipher whether or not they actually thought the Joker’s “magic tricks” would provide legitimate entertainment to the all ages audience. (Chris)
- The heavy-handed dialog really created an issue logically for characters trying to maintain a secret identity. “THIS IS FOR JOHN AND MARY GRAYSON. YOU KILLED THEM. THEY ARE THE PARENTS OF ME, ROBIN, A.K.A. DICK GRAYSON. BRUCE WAYNE IS BATMAN.” Okay, I may have embellished a little. (Mitch)
- Despite all of the show’s limitations, it was certainly better than Batman and Robin. Batman Live is, after all, meant to be a circus. (Chris)
Written by Mitch Skinner, Radio K volunteer, with assistance from Chris Dale.
Cloud Nothings @ Amsterdam Bar & Hall
September 16th, 2012
This Sunday show at the Amsterdam Bar provided some intense, visceral energy from the stellar lineup of bands (Cloud Nothings, Bloodnstuff, and Chomp), although somewhat unfit for such a mellow night in the near-empty streets of downtown St. Paul. Nevertheless, each band delivered a tight, walloping set of noisy, guitar-driven tunes that made the audience almost forget they had to wake up for work in the morning.
Chomp, a punk group featuring two members of Cloud Nothings, started off the night with a solid set list of pop-tinged punk rock, laying out a nice groundwork for the rest of the groups. However, Bloodnstuff, a local two-piece, truly kicked the night into high gear, banging out an intense 45-minute set of music off their self-titled LP. The group has been garnering loads of attention from the local music scene in the past year, and it was completely evident during their live show. Judging from the way they can weave through complex mixed-meter math rock and still deliver a fist-pumping hook, these two almost seem to be sharing the same brain. Hearing how full their tunes sound, it’s amazing that all of it is just coming from two guys.
But, the true champs of the night were Cloud Nothings, who delivered a short but powerful set of music. Starting with the song “Fall In”, they hammered through a pulverizing collection of tunes picked from their new Steve Albini-produced record Attack on Memory, an album that has garnered mass critical appeal for their new direction into visceral noise-rock. Grounded by a thumping rhythm section, they tore into each song with raw, razor-like energy, punctuated by distorted guitars and Dylan Baldi’s raw vocals. Many of the songs were heavy on noisy improvisation and tempo changes, which gave each song a spontaneous and fresh take from what is heard on the record. After performing an encore of older tunes, these guys wrapped up their first ever gig in Minnesota, but hopefully not their last. Judging from the crowd response, I think we will be seeing more from these guys
Written by Andy Engstrom, Radio K volunteer.
Shellac @ First Avenue Mainroom
September 1st, 2012
Saturday night was an evening of pulverizing rhythms and jagged atonality at First Avenue's Mainroom. Local quintet STNNNG began the night with abandon, channeling the Jesus Lizard in sound as well as attitude and stage presence. Their set ended with a surprising cover of AC/DC's "Have A Drink On Me". Bellini took the stage next, a group hailing from Catania, Sicily, Italy. Their only non-Italian member is Alexis Fleisig, better known as the drummer for Girls Against Boys. They had a presence like none other - middle-aged Italians playing noise rock that sounds like it's straight from New York in the 80's.
Shellac emerged promptly at 9 p.m. and swiftly ran through a set of songs that spanned practically their entire discography to a venue that was near capacity. I should backtrack to mention that the premise of this show is as a part of their "20th Anniversary Tour" - but since this is Shellac and they do it their way, the tour was composed of three dates in their hometown of Chicago and one date in Minneapolis (most likely because drummer Todd Trainer hails from here and the Twins are one of Steve Albini's favorite baseball teams). Despite the exclusive nature of the show, the ticket was still a mere $12. Between songs bassist Bob Weston would ask the audience if anyone had a question, creating some amusing and snappy banter including Albini obliging to tell his favorite joke (which I wouldn't dare reprint here) as well as ridiculing a fan for requesting a song by one of his previous endeavors. Albini and Weston had nearly identical gear rigs: each had an Electrical Guitar Company instrument, an amp composed of two cabs with a head that only had one knob. Albini had only two pedals. The stage lights stayed on the entire time; there was no light show to speak of. They didn't have a setlist, instead opting to convene at the center of the stage between songs to discuss what should be played next. It's easy to understand why they refer to themselves as a "minimalist rock trio". Their final song ended with Albini and Weston setting their instruments down and deconstructing Trainer's drumset as he played it until he was left with just his sticks. They then moved their gear off the stage and jumped down in to the gap between the crowd barrier and the stage to interact directly with fans. Albini personally handled the merchandise sales. They're cocky and snarky, sure, but there really isn't any rock star attitude going on here. In an era when indie bands with one album under their belt can charge over twice as much for a ticket, a show such as this one was surprisingly refreshing. It's just difficult not to admire their steadfast commitment to the DIY aesthetic that they've now maintained for two decades. Happy birthday, Shellac.
Written by Tom Steffes, Radio K volunteer
THEEsatisfaction @ 7th St. Entry
August 28, 2012
Taking the stage at the 7th Street Entry on August 28th was female-funk duo THEESatisfaction. With no other instruments besides a computer, the two surprisingly owned the stage for the entire night, largely due to their synchronized dance steps and sassy finger snaps. The two write their own beats, and have made numerous mixtapes prior to their debut album release: awE naturalE. The setlist included a good amount songs from the album as well as mixtapes and even a few new songs. Most of their songs average only about two minutes long, however each funky/soulful hip-hop jam flowed right into the next; the crowd was entranced in one continuous groove the entire time. The audience was given two encores (one may only count as half because the two never actually left the stage). It's safe to say that the people inside the Entry that night felt a whole lot closer to living in the 70s, and witnessed a performance of truly funk-ified, hip-hop inspired soul music.
Written by Amanda Reeder, Radio K volunteer
James Vincent McMorrow @ Varsity Theater
August 8th, 2012
James Vincent McMorrow returned to Minneapolis for the third time on Wednesday, August 8th at the Varsity Theater. It has been an interesting experience watching the progression of McMorrow's performances over the years. Back in March of 2011 he opened for The Rural Alberta Advantage at First Avenue's Mainroom, and last September the Cedar Cultural Center hosted his first headlining US tour. Each time I've seen him he has gained so much more confidence, and in return brought more energy to the stage and connected with the audience extremely well.
One thing has been consistent with each performance however, and that is McMorrow's beautiful and emotion-filled vocals. Each song had angelic falsettos, alluring melodies, and so much soul and passion it made you (okay or just me) want to weep along with the melancholy resinating in his tone. One of the most compelling moments was the last minute of the song "From the Woods", a song that starts off somber and delicate, but ends with very powerful singing-chants of the song title.
Written by Amanda Reeder, Radio K volunteer
Desaparecidos with Little Brazil @ 400 Bar
August 9th, 2012
Over the past decade and a half, Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes fame went from a young kid playing music in Omaha cafes, to a relatively well known singer/songwriter, to the poster child of an entire subculture, to an artist who continuously sells out large capacity theaters and venues. He has always played as Bright Eyes, but diehard fans know Oberst has a wider musical background, playing with bands such as Commander Venus, Park Avenue, and more recently, in 2001, Desaparecidos - a socially aware rock band with heavy punk influences. On Thursday, August 9, the Twin Cities were honored as the first stop of the latter's five date reunion tour.
Little Brazil, headed by Desaparecidos' bassist Landon Hedges, opened The 400 Bar, a venue with just a 275 person capacity. Little Brazil's music is a little more low key than Desaparecidos, though still influenced greatly by that forgotten Midwestern emo sound, somewhere between Rites of Spring and The Promise Ring. Hedges, with the rest of Little Brazil, opened the show nicely - playing with full energy, and creating an unnamable anticipation of what was to come.
Desaparecidos came out fashionably late, and while you still hear a few remarks such as, "Marry me, Conor!" from the crowd, unlike most Bright Eyes shows, reflected in the positive cheering one might find at a basement punk show in town, the crowd was more interested in reliving the lost band's sound then longing after some lingering preteen lust towards Oberst. The band immediately tore into "Greater Omaha," the entire crowd acknowledging the catchy opening guitar riffs, and singing aloud through the first verse almost louder than Conor himself. "You can work for us / but you gotta eat 'em all up" is shouted, and the tempo picks up with the forefront of the crowd bouncing into one another with a passion I thought only possible at 80's hardcore shows.
The band played through their most of their catalogue without any in between banter. However, "Mall of America," a track about the Twin Cities' infamous cesspool of capitalism was mockingly introduced by Conor, "I was very impressed with the mall, until I saw the one in Edmonton." After telling the audience to get their shit together and build a real mall, the band ripped through "Mall of America," which likely due to the local context, the audience seemed to sing along with the loudest. Other than this short mention, however, Oberst only gave one left-wing political lesson condemning the foundation of the United States' rise to power via the genocide of Native America and the African slave trade, and of America's present day neo-imperialism, "We want to be a part of the world, not control it." Certainly words that represent the lyrical and musical content of Desaparecidos' work. After closing out with "Marikkkopa," a critique on Sherriff Joe's methods of immigration control, the band walked off for a short leave only to come back to an encore.
Desaparecidos closed up the night with a well-done cover of The Clash's "Spanish Bombs," however - the majority of the crowd seemed unaware to what the cover was (which seriously confused me). The set was wrapped up with "Hole in One." "Won't eat their food or wear their clothes / always wants to know where her money goes / But will shell it out for filling up her nose." As far as my opinion goes, this track's lyrics are the strongest of the bands work - and Desaparecidos certainly made this one ring in the venue.
The band playing at The 400 Bar was a perfect setting for this reunion show, and however unfortunate it was that they did not play a venue the size of First Ave's Mainroom to allow more fans in, those who were able to get tickets were treated to a room, a band, a crowd, and a sound thought to be dead in the late 90s. This concert is unforgettable. If ever you have the chance to see Desaparecidos, take it.
Man and Wife, the Former (Financial Planning)
The Happiest Place on Earth
Mall of America
Backsell This Song
The Left is Right
Survival of the Fittest/ It's a Jungle Out There
Man and Wife, the Latter (Damaged Goods)
Hole in One
Written by Morgan Luther, Radio K volunteer
mc chris with Powerglove @ Varsity Theater
August 9th, 2012
Early shows always get me. I think they are wonderful, as all ages do deserve the right to live music. Especially when it comes to nerdcore, a subgenre of hip hop loosely described as one characterized by subject matter considered to be of interest to nerds (video games, Japanimation, comic books, table top games, film, and so forth). I remember mc chris being one of the first performers I saw in the greater metro at an all ages venue, so naturally, when I discovered he was performing just up the street at the Varsity Theater, I had to attend - despite being well of
Working, it's hard to get to an event that opens at five PM, so we strolled in a little late. At the entrance, I noticed that one of my favorite nerdcore rappers had a merchandise table set up, Mega Ran (aka Random), even though he was not mentioned on the official tour list. I had the pleasure of seeing him perform at a hometown geek convention called No Brand Con (kind of a tradition with me and some friends) just a few months earlier. After a quick talk, he informed me that he opened the show - something I wish would have been better publicized, as his newest release, "Language Arts Vol. 1" is a huge hit in the college radio scene, debuting at 34 on the CMJ charts. If you get the chance, check out his live show - so much energy - and he raps about Mega Man, Final Fantasy, and teaching English.
Metal was playing during this realization. Odd, for a hip-hop show. Aside from causing brief confusion, this got me pretty stoked. I enjoy my metal. And after noticing the band was shredding a theme track of "Final Fantasy VII," one of my all-time favorite video games, I got especially stoked. Upon walking onto the floor, which was much more full than I had expected for a niche genre and an early weeknight concert, I gazed up to find four gentlemen dressed as what my companion referred to as, "GWAR's younger brothers." They shortly thereafter introduced themselves as Powerglove, and continued to play some wild riffs. My favorites included the theme song to the "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers," to which they brought up a member of the crowd dressed as the Red Ranger to dance along, and the theme to "Pokemon," to which literally the entire crowd sang kareoke with. It made sense why they opened.
Having voiced a number of cult-hit characters from Adult Swim's programming block, including Hesh from "Sealab 2021" and MC Pee Pants on "Aqua Teen Hunger Force," mc chris has garnered quite the following in the nerdcore realm. Despite conflict between user sourced website, Reddit, and mc chris via Twitter throughout this tour, his following had not died down as expected, and many eager fans were fidgeting as the filler music died down. mc chris walked out and immediately commended a moment of silence for the victims of the recent Aurora, Colorado Dark Knight Massacre, and the shooting of the Sikh temple in Milwaukee. Afterwards, he stated, "I know not everyone holds these beliefs," but urged the audience to remember that the shooters themselves are also victims, whether of society, or their own mental illnesses. Obviously a bold statement, but one that resonated well in nerd subculture. mc went on to play quite a long set, filled with mostly remixes of hits from his eight studio albums and various mix tapes. About halfway through, mc chris drew the crowd's attention to a four year old audience member, sitting on the stage in the arms of her guardians. He stopped, and took a picture of the crowd with the child as a focal point, that you can now find online.
Highlights of mc chris's set include two particular tracks. The first being the song, "Geek," off of 2003's "Knowing is Half the Hassle." The song's content discusses issues of school shootings, the result of nerds being bullied. While this content is clearly sensitive following the Dark Knight Massacre, mc chris paused prior to inform the patrons that "Geek" was in the set list prior to the shooting, and that we should never allow "a terrorist's act of terror to influence our behavior." Another track, "Part One," off of 2011's "Race Wars" is entirely about The Batman. Again, before performing, mc chris paused to tell the audience that the last thing the victims of the Aurora shooting would want, given they were eager fans at the midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises," would be for us not to watch, read, and love Batman.
After performing for about an hour, mc chris came back for an encore, thanking the crowd for urging him back on ("Not every audience does this."), and discussed his upcoming project for a mc chris animated television show, and went on to perform fan favorites, "Fett's Vette", and "The Tussin."
Written by Morgan Luther, Radio K volunteer
Twin Shadow @ 7th St. Entry
August 7th, 2012
Returning for a second night in a row at the 7th Street Entry was Twin Shadow on August 7, 2012. Before George Lewis Jr. took the stage was opener Poolside, a duo out of LA. From these guys and their touring band, the crowd experienced a perfect dose of funk-ified summer-y jams to warm them up for TS later that night. If you were to mix the synths of bands like Tycho, the energy and sass of Fundadelic, and the seductive vocals of Twin Shadow, you would have Poolside - the perfect potion for get-in-the-zone, feel good funk music.
You could definitely tell it was a sold out show that night at the Entry; as the night went on, personal space decreased as more people stuffed the dance floor. Once Twin Shadow took the stage, however, I think I speak for most people when I say that was completely forgotten. Frontman George Lewis Jr. (wearing a hat that hid his infamously beautiful hair - as pointed out by an audience member) owned the stage that night. He started the set out with three songs off his latest release, Confess; "Golden Light" kicked the night off with the perfect amount of dance moves. The whole set was planned out excellently, I thought. He spoke in between just enough songs, slowed things down a few times during the night with songs like "Forget" but got right back into the groove with high energy anthems like "Five Seconds". He even hopped off stage and completely shredded on guitar while buzzing around the crowd.
What made the night truly special was how much Lewis thanked the crowd and complimented Minneapolis throughout the entire set. He called Minneapolis one of the most underrated cities in the country, and you could tell he meant it. He appreciated how awesome the people and the city are here, but we aren't too cocky and proud about it, like a lot of cities. I'm pretty sure everyone in the crowd was extremely pleased when he announced he will absolutely never skip over Minneapolis while touring.
Written by Amanda Reeder, Radio K volunteer
Kishi Bashi @ Cedar Cultural Center
August 3rd, 2012
An air of anticipation hung over the Cedar on Friday night. K Ishibashi, also known as Kishi Bashi, former violinist for of Montreal, was set to take the stage after an opening set from Tall Tall Trees. Mike Savino, vocalist, banjo player, and guitarist of Tall Tall Trees, took the stage alone on this tour playing music off of his new psychedelic folk rock and roll album, “moment”, with solely himself, his banjo, and some looping gear. But Savino performed beyond the crowd’s expectations, delivering the full feel of the rock songs with his limited amount of instruments and hands. Kishi Bashi joined Tall Tall Trees for Savino’s last song, entering the stage in a suit coat, tucked-in button down shirt, and black denim pants. When he returned to the stage shortly after to play his own set, however, he’d added a large peacock plume clipped to the left side of his lapel. And with total confidence, he jumped into the music. A seemingly quiet and modest man looping and looping lines from his violin and voice until he had built something you would never know could be done by one man – and then he sang over it. Savino of Tall Tall Trees shared the stage with Ishibashi for most of his set, and the two absolutely ran away with the music. Building rhythms and harmonies entirely separate from the material on Kishi Bashi’s albums, it seemed more like a jam session between friends, but the result was just perfect enough to become those same songs from the albums. Whoops and hollers abounded as the duo whipped out trick after trick. So much so that when it came to “It All Began With A Burst”, the crowd was already so excited we immediately began clapping – until Ishibashi stopped the song and, laughing, asked us to stop so he could hear his own tempo, permitting us to begin again when he added the beat in. To cap off the spectacle, Kishi Bashi came back on stage for his encore, and surprised the audience by jumping into a rap song whose subject material is not appropriate for this review…. But it was still met with laughs and cheers. Finally, he ended with the eagerly awaited “Manchester” off of both the recent LP, 151a, and his debut EP, Room for Dream. As far as anticipation goes, I’m confident that everybody’s expectations were greatly surpassed. I would highly recommend seeing Kishi Bashi to any and all types of music lovers. It’s certainly an experience to remember.
Written by Alex Dziura, Radio K volunteer
Animal Kingdom @ Triple Rock Social Club
August 4th, 2012
It was a quiet night in Cedar-Riverside on Saturday. Most of the action was happening in Downtown or on the U of M West Bank Campus for Fringe Festival. But inside the Triple Rock was a modest band of three British gentlemen just thrilled to be touring in America for their first time. Animal Kingdom headlined for pop folksy six-piece, Royal Teeth. Both bands having played Lollapalooza the day before, you wouldn’t expect them to be so glad to play the Triple Rock in Minneapolis, Minnesota for about a hundred people. But if they felt any disappointment, no one knew. Royal Teeth began by getting the crowd in the mood for dancing, and Animal Kingdom took it over the top. The floor flooded with feet for the headliner as they took the stage. Beginning with a couple of songs from their first release, Signs and Wonders, the band warmed up to the Minnesota-nice vibe of an exceptionally encouraging audience. And the encouragement showed through in the unabashedly wide smile of lead singer, Rich Sauberlich, after every song ended in an eruption of applause. Continuing into songs from their most recent release, The Looking Away, the energy in the room did nothing but climb. When they introduced “Get Away With It”, which has gotten air play in the Twin Cities, the crowd was more than ready to dance to such a familiar tune. Finally, as Animal Kingdom ended their set with the highly anticipated single “Strange Attractor” off the new album, there wasn’t a still foot on the floor. Finishing with a flourish, the guys each took turns hopping off the stage, and eagerly heading straight back to the merchandise table to greet fans. So in quiet Cedar-Riverside on Saturday night, there was really nothing but greatness. Great music, great guys, and great experiences. Undoubtedly worth checking out next time they come back from across the pond!
Written by Alex Dziura, Radio K volunteer
Olsen Twinns with Phantom Vibration @ 7th St. Entry
July 23, 2012
Local band Phantom Vibration rocked the 7th street entry on Monday for their EP release of Aged, opening up for the local talent of the Olsen Twinns. The house was packed with friends and local music lovers, all enthralled by the haunting voice of Daniel Clinton-McCausland, and the awesome pairing of Henry on guitar and Gunnar pounding on the drums. They played some tunes from their first two EPs, Kids and Growing, and finished off their set by playing some awesome new stuff, including a top-notch tune entitled "Sapience", one of my favorite new songs. As an avid follower of this group, I can say from personal experience that not only is their music flourishing with this new EP, but so is their stage presence. 6 months after the release of Growing and opening for Nurses in the same venue, their sound has delved into new turf and is even more exciting and complex than before. If you haven't heard them, check out their awesome in-studio on Radio K.org.
Following Phantom Vibration was another local act, Olsen Twinns. Despite the name, two blonde-haired babes are not behind these electronic beats, but in fact is 21-year-old Mickey Davis. He played a very filling set, which he introduced to the audience, "Some songs are for dancing, and some are not - you decide which ones are which." And the crowd definitely followed through with that suggestion. Throughout the night there was quite a bit of swayin' and groovin', but also slower moments to cool down (actually quite literally-in the heavily air conditioned Entry).
The entire night not only did I get a great dose of dance-able beats to get me out of Minneapolis' 80% humidity, but I was able to witness and be a part of the local music community and support behind it, was absolutely great. Hugs and handshakes were constantly being given to the musicians after and before their performances. It's no secret that the Twin Cities has some great talent out there, and this show was proof.
Written by Nailah Taman and Amanda Reeder, Radio K volunteers
King Tuff with Jaill @ Triple Rock Social Club
July 17th, 2012
In the familiar venue of the Triple Rock, a moderate crowd mingles for an early show. Milwaukee natives, Jaill, brought the energy up with tracks from their latest release "Traps". A notable few die-hard Jaill fans were right next to me providing most of the crowds' headbanging on 'Waste A Lot Of Things' and 'Everyone's a Bitch'. The later song dedicated to all the women in the crowd, and with a slight chuckle the tunes kept sweeping by.
In between sets the audience shuffles around quite a bit gaining much strength for the much anticipated upcoming performance. A crew of guys get on stage and take position in front of a large tapestry with "King Tuff" painted on in their artsy font, as seen on their self titled album cover. These guys have the appearance of Wavves with their "give no you-know-whats" attitude but with a lurking shadiness. Not long into their first song something of a meek mosh pit has started amongst a handful of guys, however as tracks like "Anthem", "Keep On Moving", and "Bad Thing" play a larger portion of the floor becomes washed with a jumping mass of energy. These ram-shackled garage rockers swept the audience with their rad jams and it was an energy that could not be matched for a Tuesday evening show that clocked in by 10pm.
Written by Jenny Ackerson, Radio K volunteer
St. Motel @ 7th St. Entry
July 20th, 2012
The 7th Street Entry seemed a little dark and dismal on the night of July 20th. Local group, Wiping Out Thousands lured the crowd out from hiding with siren vocals and industrial danceable beats showcased in “I’m A” and “Collision of Teeth/Bodies.” Captivating, dark lyrics “Watch for me when you sleep” gently whispered in Mass Nerve add eerie contrast to the brusque electric surges.
Los Angeles based band Races cooled off the crowd with their light airy backing vocals peppered with the lead singer’s slight hint of rasp in “Year of the Child” and “Song of Birds” from their recently released album, Year of the Witch.
The ten-o’clock hour chimed and Saint Motel christened the room with their quirky, bouncing tunes surrounded by a swirl of laser lights. The audience’s appetite was satisfied with chanting along the lyrics of “Feed Me Now.” 1930’s swing was resurrected in “Benny Goodman” with bubbling saxophone and silky swoops in vocal ranges that made you envision a big band flashback but with a modern feel. “Puzzle Pieces” will absolutely trigger you to fall apart into uncontrollable dancing with its bright, accented piano plunks and rush of drums that make up for all of those awkward dances that you went during your post-secondary youth.
Written by Abbie Gobeli, Radio K volunteer
Ava Luna with Buffalo Moon and Tickle Torture @ 7th St Entry
July 17th, 2012
Opening for Ava Luna were local friends Tickle Torture and Buffalo Moon. Tickle Torture (Sleeping in the Aviary's Elliott Kozel) was definitely in peak shape, popping-and-locking to his home-made dance tracks, playing up his hyper-XXX alter ego. Wearing only baby oil, ice made from a hood ornament, and tight leather pants, Kozel sang about desire, sexual frustration, and what every woman wants and needs (which incidentally he can provide.) Is he Prince's illegitimate lovechild? Word to the wise, don't pull up his Myspace page at work while your boss is looking over your shoulder.
The first time I heard Ava Luna was on a tour mix-tape put out by Sleeping in the Aviary (decorated with sparkles and potato stamps) and they were easily the best thing on the tape. Try and classify them under one genre or compare them to another band and you will probably make a categorical error, as it seems they take cues from piles of influences. Never boring, I would say that their main success is that their music actually has a soul, and on this night their shiniest moments had most to do with their vocals and harmonies—fronted by Carlos Hernandez backed by Felicia Douglass and Becca Kauffman. While performing their title track “Ice Levels” which opens with Kauffman singing the finest sung line on the album, the crowd whooped and hollered after each line she sang. There may have been some “amens.” Hernandez was no slouch either, looking like a Wonder Years character and endowed with some manly pipes, each song performed with even more groove than their recordings.
You probably missed Ava Luna, because the Entry was practically empty. My only complaint is that you should have been there.
Set highlights include “Ice Levels,” “Clips,” “No F,” “Past the Barbary” of course, with encore performance of “Eight Nine (Won't You Be Mine.)”
Memorable audience quote: “It's like, not often that my mind blown. But tonight, my mind was blown.
Written by Jamie Nelson, Radio K volunteer
Dethklok's entrance at San Diego Comic-Con.
Dethklok and Girl Talk @ San Diego Comic-Con Adult Swim International Friday Night After-Party
July 13th, 2012
San Diego Comic-Con International is the holy destination for all nerd pilgrimages. It sells out admission (this year in just ninety minutes) to the San Diego Convention Center, as well as all the adjacent hotels, and packs downtown San Diego with over one-hundred thirty thousand attendees for an extended weekend. In addition to a merchant room the size of an enlarged football field, as well as an extravagant list of panels - this year including a reunion of cult-favorite sci-fi western, Firefly, sneak peaks of upcoming blockbusters The Hobbit and Iron Man 3, talks by Kevin Smith and Stan Lee, and much more - the convention is well known to host an immense amount of private parties at various venues across the San Diego area. Most of these of course, are invite-only, and thus, require one to have "ins" with the industry. However, Cartoon Network's Adult Swim programming block, a series of shows targeted to, well, an adult audience, has hosted a party for fans now two years in a row.
A couple weeks before the convention, Adult Swim announced free registration to their San Diego Comic-Con 2012 party on the decommissioned aircraft carrier, the USS Midway, on Friday, July 13. The event headlined the real-life band, Dethklok (with front-man Brendon Small playing guitar and vocals , Testament drummer Gene Hoglan, guitarist Mike Keneally, who is widely known for playing with Frank Zappa, and bassist Bryan Beller, who plays with The Aristocrats), who's fictitious counterpart is the subject of Brendon Small's hit animated series Metalocalypse. If you at this point are unfamiliar with Metalocalypse, I must direct you to the search engine of your choice, or better yet, to any DVD store - because this show is quite clever - and also the rest of this might not make much sense (though you can skip down a little bit and catch a more-familiar secret guest).
Wristband sign-up ended within hours; yet Adult Swim warned that despite sign-up guests still might not be able to get a wristband. A couple days before the event, Adult Swim sent out an e-mail about wristband pickup, there were to be two places the day of the event - one within the convention and another out front of the USS Midway - both on at nine in the morning – and both had long lines (one person told me they waited from five in the morning). Otherwise, the only chance to attend was to win wristbands at the Adult Swim's Comic-Con booth via their cat grab - yes, their cat grab (no, not real cats - think those booths with airflow and grab all the cash type things).
The event opened at seven in the evening, but some fans were lining up a few hours ahead of time (not abnormal for anything Comic-Con related). Adult Swim staff were all dressed up as Klokateers, who in-show act as everything from roadies to body guards, handing out temporary Metalocalypse tattoos, a hilarious bridge between fact and fiction in the Dethklok mythos. The first four-hundred in line were lucky enough to receive two complimentary drink tickets (boo-yah for me and my crew, by the way). As the doors open, fans were led up the ladders to the deck of the USS Midway, where they were greeted with two generously sized bars, various information sessions about the retired aircraft aboard, a lovely view of the harbor and the skyline, and a photo booth where one could step in front of a green screen, get weird, and have it set to one of two animation cells from the show.
Around eight PM, however - ominous music begins to be played throughout the deck, and soon the sound of a helicopter. That's right. A helicopter. Dethklok, who on the show is known to be the world's seventh largest economy by the end of the second season, arrives for a set on a United States aircraft carrier in a bloody helicopter. Fans, of course went nuts as they stepped out, and were escorted inside. Within minutes, the audience was allowed to follow. The steps led into a vast room within the aircraft carrier (where I later found out the Battleship was filmed). Adult Swim's name and logo was emulating on the sides of aircraft in the hanger, Klokateers ran rampant, and an impressive stage was set up complete with a fog machine. An announcer came on, and invited the attendees to stick around after Dethklok's set, for special guest Girl Talk. Though given the event was packed with metalheads, only about half the crowd peaked interest and cheered like fire.
Just a while passed before Dethklok came on stage, and played an ever-impressive set. They shredded through the majority of their studio tracks, and interlaced it with exclusive animated cuts featuring characters of the television show bridging tracks and stories together (my favorite being Rockso, the rock 'n' roll cocaine addicted clown, leading the crowd in a bunch of obscenities - which inevitably ended with him asking for money and animated front-man, Nathan Explosion threatening him away). The sound within the airship carrier was crystal, and the band members hit most every note spot on. Anyone who does not know Dethklok and Metalocalypse might question their legitimacy as a band, but rest assured - with a lineup as impressive of theirs, they literally rocked the boat (corny but true - I mean, Gene Hoglan for example is referred to as "The Human Drum Machine"). Following about an hour and fifteen minute long-set, they walked off-stage, and an animation showed the in-show Dethklok talking about how stupid and pointless encores are, yet sure enough they came back out - and the crowd went wicked.
At the end of the encore, a fan I had befriended earlier in the evening, turned to me with beads of sweat hanging from her headbanged hair, looks me blank in the eyes, "The only way I could be happier is if we all died a brutal death during their set." She is not the only one who felt such, as any fan of the show knows - Dethklok's concerts always end (and often begin) with the deaths of countless fans in quite brutal ways, and given the venue we were at - no place could be more fitting.
A short intermission goes underway, and fans go for drinks and smokes and the toilet, and of course to mingle about. Though the event was one of the few Comic-Con after parties that was open to the public, various industry folk were strutting about, such as the cast of Workaholics, much of Adult Swim, a few voice actors, and game designers for League of Legends and the upcoming South Park video game, to name a few.
This clearly was Dethklok's night, as it was their first show of the year, and a preview of their upcoming late-summer tour (which has a stop in Somerset, WI on August 17 and 18 for Knotfest). Given the audience and genre gap between acts, many filed out prior to Girl Talk's set. But, oh, what a shame.
Girl Talk, known for his extensive mashups and digital sampling, turned a metal show quickly into the most sought out dance party of the evening. After inviting fans to dance on stage, and pumping out tunes, the lights went wild, fog filled the air, balloons filled with helium shot up, and hundreds of rolls of toilet paper were launched from guns. His set was truly rave-worthy, and lasting nearly two hours was a great way to end one of the most brutal nights Comic-Con has ever seen.
Written by Morgan Luther, Radio K volunteer
Beat Connection with White Arrows and Teen Daze @ 7th St Entry
July 15, 2012
Never was a night at the 7th Street so filled with dancing as Sunday, July 15th. Teen Daze and White Arrows opened for Beat Connection, and regardless of their stylistic differences, each group got the crowd moving like there was no tomorrow. Teen Daze bravely took the stage first to an audience that was…less than crowded…but throughout his set of pulsating beats and overarching, soothing synthetic drone, the few who were there silently agreed that those who weren’t should regret it. White Arrows followed the warm up to an audience who had thankfully grown in size, as the Dirty Projectors show next door had about come to a close. The band put on a lively performance full of soaring melodies, magically understated vocals, and complete with visuals of hypnotizing projections over the stage. At one point, the bassist even jumped off the stage to dance through the crowd while waving his red, flashing tambourine to the beat. Playing mostly off of their newest and only full length, Dry Land is Not a Myth, each and every song delivered exactly what the audience wanted, including dance-ability. You can witness a White Arrows performance first hand by viewing their in-studio they did with us before the show at www.radiok.org/instudios. Finally, Beat Connection walked on stage and anyone in the room could feel the buzz of excitement in the audience – which had filled out by this time. Whether they were playing songs from their new album, or older tracks, each one was received with wild applause and cheers. The only seemingly worth-while way to describe the music is infectious. It was impossible to tell the difference between someone who had listened to Beat Connection for years and someone who had never heard of them before walking into the room, because every body on the floor was alive with motion. When the band left the stage after their set, chants for more filled the venue. After only a minute or two, they couldn’t resist coming back to do a few more, ending with a collaborative jam bringing White Arrows and Teen Daze back on stage. Without a doubt, each of these bands is worth seeing again next time they roll through Minneapolis. But if they keep charming crowds the way they did last night, I’m certain the room will be full from the get-go next time.
Written by Alex Dziura, Radio K volunteer
Dent May @ Cause Spirits and Soundbar
July 11, 2012
Pure fun is the most appropriate way to describe the performance of Dent May on Wednesday, July 11th at Cause Spirits and Soundbar. Opening acts were Enola Gay followed by Buffalo Moon. Both of these local acts were well-received by their loyal Minneapolis fan base, who marched right up to the foot of the stage, jumped around, and danced to all of the rhythms and melodies the bands could throw at them. Into the late hours of the night, when highly-anticipated Dent May finally took the stage, the crowd was primed and ready to get down for the last set of tunes of the show. And if anyone was less than thrilled for the performance, the opening song “Fun” had them convinced. Playing through new tunes off of their recent release, Do Things, as well as older tunes, the band had the crowd hanging on their every uplifting word, soaring melody, shimmery synth solo, and penetrating drum beat. The audience that remained into the first hours of the morning was shouting requests and boogying without restraint. When they finished their set, the audience practically begged for more, and as there was no backstage, the band simply turned back around and continued to deliver. After the encore, the audience still wasn’t ready to end the fun, but the hour was late, and all good things must come to an end. However, I’m sure that next time Dent May comes to town, everyone at Cause last Wednesday will be the first to buy tickets as they recall the enjoyment of this last show. You can also view an in-studio these good-hearted guys did with us before their show at www.radiok.org/instudios.
Written by Alex Dziura, Radio K volunteer
The Onion / The A.V. Club's final show: Bollywood, Spacewaves, Fire in the Northern Firs, and Flavor Crystals @ Hell's Kitchen
June 30th, 2012
Indiesoup presented The Onion and The A.V. Club’s last sponsored show at Hell’s Kitchen on Saturday, June 30th. Local duo, Bollywood launched in their artfully crafted rock complete with guitar, bass, and electronic haze with “could-woulda” and “Meta”. They were accompanied by their imaginative projections of the media on chunky television sets circa 1990s complete with VCR. Up next, Portland, Oregon brought Spacewaves that was memorable for their amped up guitars that sent vibrations through the floor of Hell’s Kitchen that served essential to the fuzzy afterthoughts that eased the transitions with each played selection. In addition, the female-fronted, Fire in the Northern Firs sang in the microphone turned household phone created a reverbant film covering her voice. One audience member added his sweet Michael Jackson styled moonwalk with carefully calculated steps in front of the stage. Flavor Crystals ended the night with whirling guitars overlapping the gentle “Ha-ahs” of the vocals luring the audience closer to the stage with “Ivan in the Park” and “Mirror Chop.”
Written by Abbie Gobeli, Radio K volunteer
The Promise Ring @ Varsity Theater
June 27th, 2012
I grew up on them. I can still remember that a certain shy brunette girl in middle school gave me a mixtape ironically opening with "Make Me A Mixtape." From then on, The Promise Ring led my way into various aspects of the music world, and inevitably into work here at the K (not to mention a very innocent teen fling). Being too young to catch them in their prime, and having missed their 2005 reunion, there was absolutely no way I was going to allow me to miss the 90s Milwaukee greats again - especially knowing the rumors, that are likely truth, that this is surely the end for the project.
The Promise Ring defined the latter end of the emo movement, and along with bands like The Get Up Kids, helped it evolve into a more mellow version of the punk offshoot, characterized similar to "indie-pop." They started out as a side project of Davey von Bohlen when he was playing with one of the most influential emo bands of all time, Cap'n Jazz - and sure enough, The Promise Ring became nearly as legendary.
I arrived late, unfortunately missing the openers. Though I was assured their sets were wonderful, I cannot speak on it. However, I do know that Mark Mallman stayed on the keys for The Promise Ring's entire set, and it worked - well. The Varsity was not as packed as I had expected, though it may be attributable to many fans choosing to see them the next night in their hometown, playing at Summerfest, and a variety of other events occurring throughout The Cities. Yet, the crowd was full of energy and anticipation - and not a single person there was regretful on their decision to come.
The tracks they chose to play were fitting; the set starting with "Size of Your Life" off of 2002's Wood/Water and going right into "Happiness" and "SOS" off of Very Emergency. Shortly thereafter, "Make Me A Mixtape" came on, and a few members of the audience surely recognized the shout out to St. Paul, throwing their hands up with a yell to the lyrics "Don't leave out Husker Du." However, those who recognized the reference seemed to be lacking, and Davey von Bohlen from then on kept making a point of teasing St. Paul, humorously asking the audience, "Have you forgotten your sister city?" The crowd was digging it, but it wasn't until Davey von Bohlen stated his intent on a "fast one," and shot right into "Is This Thing On?" until the audience seemed to give it their all. From then on, members of the crowd were bopping around and singing along; even a few couples were giving it a little swing. Lovers were appropriately cuddling and kissing on the adjacent couches, and I swear I saw more than one person tear up. None of this is any wonder, as The Promise Ring's lyrical and musical content really emphasizes on 90s emo topics - the scene seemed fitting for an episode of Dawson's Creek - which I mean in the best of ways. Though, rather than taking place in the fictional town of Capside, the Twin Cities mentality cast an allure over the room.
The band played for about an hour and a half, with a starting set of twenty tracks. After a short leave, they marched back on for a five song encore including hits "Why Did Ever We Meet" and "Red Paint." An audience member shouted, "Play us something you won't play in Milwaukee," to which von Bohlen replied with sarcasm about how great it would be to play tracks they have not practiced in ten years. The set ended appropriately, with "Forget Me," though they will not be forgotten by
All in all, the show was exactly what I expected. Tight, though at points a tad sloppy. The members have aged, but not as much as one would expect. And the crowd, though having matured past much of the song content in the last ten years, loved every second. If by chance they come around again, do yourself a favor and catch a part of Midwestern music history.
My only complaint: They didn't play "Electric Pink."
Written by Morgan Luther, Radio K volunteer
Ross Farrar of Ceremony
Ceremony @ 7th St Entry
June 19th, 2012
Last Tuesday, punk fans showed their dedication as they showed up for what seemed like an ungodly early show at the 7th Street Entry, 5 PM. The reason? Ceremony, probably the most talked about hardcore punk band in years, was to debut the songs off their new album, Zoo. While many have been calling their most recent release “disappointing”, the live performance of these songs themself did not disappoint. What did disappoint, was after seeing countless videos of Ceremony shows on the West Coast, where they have gained an almost cult-like following, the audience at the 7th street was neither typical of West-Coast Ceremony shows nor Minneapolis underground punk shows.
Openers White Lung, hailing from Vancouver, whom I personally was extremely excited for, as a friend had shot me a YouTube video of their tracks months earlier, seemed to rush through their set as the crowd bounced their heads, but only their heads. Where was the raw energy here? The drummer certainly seemed to be exuding plenty of it, as she furiously pounded away in the back. This band sounded great, but their late entrance and rush to set up their merch seemed to add to the stress of getting on stage and performing before their set time was slated to end around 6:30. The singer and the rest of the band seemed somewhat frustrated between songs, as if their performance wasn’t holding up to their own expectations. The set ended, and I bought a White Lung t-shirt with a particularly awesome design from the lead singer as everyone waited in anticipation for Ceremony to start at 7:00. I still thought they were awesome despite the lackluster energy.
Ceremony proceeded to take the stage, opening with Hysteria, the first single from their new album “Zoo”. If anyone had thought this song sounded tired on the album, the live performance brought a new energy to the song that could only be attributed to the stage presence of the lead singer, who was possibly the best lead singer I have ever seen in my life. He manages to embody the essence of punk in a white t-shirt, not unlike the forefathers of eighties hardcore. I think I once read an interview with lead singer Ross Farrar, that said something along the lines of “I don’t get much exercise, so when I’m on stage I really go for it”. Well Ross, if the sweat dripping off your body was any indication of the energy you have on stage, you would definitely take the gold medal in that category.
The crowd was somewhat be in flux with regards to the songs. At one point, everyone seemed to be standing still, and it was no feat for a small girl like me to stand in the front row center, an uncommon sight at most of the punk shows I’ve been to around here, where I would instantly get whacked out of place. But during crowd favorites, such as “Sick”, the title track off of 2010’s Rohnert Park, the energy was once again built up, as crowd members screamed the lyrics into Farrar’s microphone. Another high point of the set was the somewhat unexpected Violent Femmes cover “Kiss Off”, an unlikely choice for a hardcore band that definitely brought a new life to the song. It was all over much too soon, and everyone gathered outside to discuss the set. Quick to join my circle was the lead singer himself, who was totally unhesitant to interact with my friends, complimenting crowd members on their “punk attitude”, and immersing himself in the local scene. Both his friendly attitude and authentic stage energy made this one hell of a show.
- Open Head
- Red C
- Terminal Addiction
- Brace Yourself
- Kiss Off (Violent Femmes Cover)
- The Doldrums (Friendly City)
- Community Service
Written by Jessica Katz, Radio K volunteer
Crocodiles and Devin @ 7th St. Entry
June 22nd, 2012
There was nothing but musical energy surging from the 7th Street Entry stage on Friday, June 23. Making his debut from Brooklyn, NY, Devin sprung a lively stage presence covering every bit of the space with slides, dives, and leaps. He was equally equipped with his straight forward rock ‘n roll seasoned with Buddy Holly pops in his frantic vocals as featured in “Masochist” and “I Don’t Think I.”
San Diego’s Crocodiles brought their swagger to promote their recently released album, “Endless Flowers.” Lead singer; Brandon Welchez waltzed right into the crowd and swarmed around while the crowd broke out into a head-nodding trance. Highlights included the rebellious, “I Wanna Kill,” the charming, “No Black Clouds for Dee Dee,” and the thriving, “My Surfing Lucifer.” Crocodiles ended on a high note with “Welcome Trouble” with its fitting vocalized yelps and clamoring arrangement that echoes like a warning. Rumor has it these rollicking reptilians will be back in Minneapolis in September or October.
Written by Abbie Gobeli, Radio K volunteer
Maps & Atlases at Amsterdam Bar and Hall
June 19th, 2012
After scouring far and wide across the United States, the Beware and Be Careful Tour made their last stop at Amsterdam Bar and Hall on Wednesday, June 20th. I personally have never been to this venue and was absolutely floored by the three openers. Three-piece Minneapolis band, Youth At Large kicked off the night followed by Chicago’s Suns.
The Big Sleep kept the crowd awake and heads nodding to their fast beats. “You Can’t Touch the Untouchable” catches you off guard with its periodic four beat measures of silences that trick you into thinking the song is over, but The Big Sleep always picks up right where they left off like they never even stopped. After they initially ended their set, the audience applauded them back for one more song. “Brown Beauty,” an instrumental hooks you with a thumping bass and the ascending guitar lines provide a steel-cut whine that rang overhead.
Maps and Atlases trekked across a great selection from both their new album and previous work. Early on there was a malfunctioning microphone, but the audience happily filled in with the lyrics and thunderous cheers. Lead singer, Dave Davison looking like a young Allen Ginsberg with his long hair, beard, and thick black rimmed glasses couldn’t help but smile. The microphone was quickly fixed and Maps and Atlases proceeded to throw us “Daily News,” “The Most Trustworthy Tin Cans,” and “Vampires.” The crowd was swaying along and there was even some head banging to my surprise. One couldn’t stop whipping his blonde hair back and forth. It’s enthralling to watch them assemble their complex time signatures and rhythmic structures. Erin Elders, guitarist rapidly taps along the neck of the guitar all the way to the pick-up.
Davison’s descending vocals have a slight scratchy texture that soars above the instrumentation especially in “Old and Gray.”
Written by Abbie Gobeli, Radio K volunteer
River's Edge Music Festival
June 23-24, 2012
This weekend marked the first year of Livenation's new River's Edge Music Festival, which dominated Harriet Island in St. Paul. The entertainment giant shelled out $4.8 million to make the festival happen, with over half of that going towards paying the performers.
Coheed & Cambria played a set early Saturday afternoon that included favorites such as the title track from their second album In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 as well as an unexpected cover of Gotye's "Somebody That I Used To Know". It was their first time here since ousting drummer Chris Pennie in favor of their original drummer Josh Eppard. Local pop-punkers Motion City Soundtrack began immediately afterward, fresh with excitement over their very recently released full-length Go. It was their older material from the Commit This To Memory era that still retained its power to exhilarate, and it was very appropriate to see them playing with the St. Paul skyline in the background. Brand New followed with a setlist that contained no new material, which seemed odd considering their last full-length Daisy is approaching three years of age. That was fine with the audience as their setlist was peppered with crowd-pleasers such as "Jesus", "Soco Amaretto Lime", and my personal favorite, "Millstone". I decided not to follow the army of dreadlocks across the field to see Sublime with Rome, instead opting to stay put to have a coveted close vantage point for mysterious metal gods Tool, who were undoubtedly the highlight of the first day. Seeing the quartet in an outdoor general admission setting is exceptionally rare considering that they do their best to have seating be mandatory as often as they can due to their stance on moshing. Their outrageously rabid fanbase justified the band's attitude with their unparalleled aggression. When their performance began there were perhaps 5 rows of people between myself and the barrier, and I was close enough to see the wrestling portrait hung from one of guitarist Adam Jones' three amplifiers and the slight gray in his hair. I quickly moved a bit back after being knocked off my feet and subsequently helped back up by a kind metalhead (thank you, anonymous metalhead). Only then was I able to fully appreciate the band's performance - their visuals are positively massive. Seeing this stunningly large graphic display truly helped to convey the band's aesthetic and worked perfectly in conjunction with the music. When watching only the band it becomes apparent that they're so familiar with the material that they seem almost casual about running through these technically and physically demanding workouts. They mostly keep to themselves and don't engage with the audience much. Frontman Maynard James Keenan spent the entirety of the performance on a riser next to blisteringly dextrous drummer Danny Carey, who is undoubtedly one of the most gifted in metal. Their setlist contained many crowd favorites such as "Schism" and "Stinkfist", and they ended their slightly abbreviated set with the title track from Ænima.
Sunday's acts were distinctively mellower. I began the day by seeing much buzzed-about local quartet Poliça. It was fairly apparent that the majority of the crowd had never heard of them before and they were nothing short of triumphant considering how unusual that is in their native state. Frontwoman Channy Leaneagh made a point to be grateful about playing to such a sizable audience and remarked that for a time she lived just a few blocks away from the site of the festival. The group chugged away tightly as a unit and Channy has all the stage presence of an established superstar. This was definitely a performance which won them more than a few new fans. I watched Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan's side project Puscifer from afar, touring in support of 2011's Conditions of My Parole. There was a flight attendant aesthetic throughout the show, complete with band members dressed accordingly and Keenan in a faux mustache. A juvenile mock advertisement for the fictional airline "Vagina Air" played as an intermission of sorts during the set which effectively explained why the project is not nearly as respected as Keenan's other endeavor. The Flaming Lips followed with a typically over-the-top performance unlike any other - I can say so because this was my sixth time seeing them. They opened with "Race For The Prize", which I don't think they've been in the habit of doing since 2007, and immediately played "She Don't Use Jelly" and "The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song". Confetti and gigantic balloons filled with even more confetti rained down over the audience. Wayne Coyne then entered his inflatable bubble and walked on the crowd. They calmed down substantially after opening with this trio of their most anthemic numbers, playing the more heavy and groove-oriented material from their last LP Embryonic as well as "Where Is The Light" from The Soft Bulletin and an acoustic version of "Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots Pt. 1". Also included was an impromptu cover of the first verse of "Black Diamond" by KISS and by way of The Replacements as a tribute to Paul Westerberg. They were called out for the only encore I saw during the festival and blasted through their customary closer "Do You Realize??". For the rest of the evening I wandered around the festival grounds and spent a bit of time watching the polarizing headliner for the evening, Dave Matthews Band, who were given three hours for their performance. There's no denying that they're a musical powerhouse in concert, particularly drummer Carter Beauford who honestly gave the previous evening's star performer Danny Carey a run for his money. I stopped by the stage on isolated Raspberry Island to see DJ and producer Diplo performing what was probably the loudest and most energetic set to take place during the entire festival. Much of his set consisted of remixes of other tracks (Blur's "Song 2", The Police's "Roxanne", Beastie Boys' "Intergalactic" among many others) and frequent encouraging of the crowd to go absolutely mental, which they seemed to have no qualms with.
The festival was organized well, with lines for bathrooms kept to a minimum, a large amount of security and police presence, and cleaning crew operating efficiently throughout the day. Food was spendy, as is to be expected for such a festival, but there was nothing stopping anyone from just leaving the grounds for a bit to enter nearby downtown St. Paul for a much more affordable nibble since the wristband system allows for re-entry. Hydration stations provided water to anyone with any sort of empty container and there was even a cell phone charging station, free of charge. Livenation have signed a contract for 5 years of the festival, so expect the masses to once again descend upon Harriet Island for a few June weekends to come.
Written by Tom Steffes, Radio K volunteer
The Duke Spirit @ Triple Rock Social Club
June 10th, 2012
“Come closer Minneapolis, we didn’t drive 27 hours for you to stay away,” beckoned Liela Moss, lead singer of The Duke Spirit as she stormed on stage at the Triple Rock Social Club on June 10th. Instantly, the audience obeyed and swarmed to the edge of the stage to the guitar rattling “Procession.”
Hacienda was originally slated to open but unfortunately cancelled earlier that day. Three hours prior to the show opening, local Minneapolis band, The Color Pharmacy swooped in curing the absent opener slot. The Duke Spirit brought forth an eclectic mix of tracks from their three albums including the fiery “Glorious” and the tambourine infused “Neptune’s Call.”
Moss commanded the energy of the room moving the crowd with her microphone stand waving it about like a female Gandalf, but with much better fashion sense. Her spotted jumper was cleverly equipped with a cape that she frequently fanned out like a superhero that had jumped out from the framed panels of a comic book. “You Were Born Inside My Heart” mesmerized the audience to sway side to side along with Liela Moss and the hypnotic, thumping bass line. Relentless vigor with no pauses is what The Duke Spirit embodies making their performance a necessity to see.
Written by Abbie Gobeli, Radio K volunteer
St. Vincent and Shearwater @ the First Avenue Mainroom
May 12th, 2012
Final examinations made their long-awaited exit and summer was officially inaugurated on May 12th, 2012 with Shearwater and St. Vincent to help celebrate at First Avenue.
Shearwater opened with dark falsettos ringing in, “You As You Were” complemented by a thriving syncopated beat. Shearwater gloriously roars its outstanding stage presence and communication within the group that draws you in to pay closer attention. Lead singer and songwriter, Johnathan Meiburg crouches down to tune his guitar fixedly listening. Slowly, a smile unravels across his face while Shearwater’s members exchange wild-eyed glances while slightly upturning their lips like they’re about to erupt in laughter like they have some sort of inside joke. You know these guys are enjoying what they do according to Meiburg, “It’s an honor for us to play here at First Avenue.”
Multi-colored lights and flickering strobes cloak Annie Clark of St. Vincent as she enters with the highly charged “Marrow,” known for its sharp beats and bassy undercurrent. Clark articulated her movements in addition to her music as she glided across the stage in a twitchy, robotic, but strangely graceful manner. Towards the end of the night, she treaded along the edge of the stage, swinging her microphone, then nodded at one of the staff. All of the sudden, she jumped on his shoulders blaring “Krokodil,” a track from St. Vincent’s Record Store Day release. Annie Clark held on to my friend and I for balance at one point and then to our surprise, she stage dove into the crowd and hands reached up to carry her throughout the mainroom’s sea of fans.
Written by Abbie Gobeli, Radio K volunteer
Meshuggah @ the First Avenue Mainroom
May 13th, 2012
Last Sunday, Swedish metal band Meshuggah took the stage at First Avenue in a brutal display of what has brought them to be one of the more respected acts in metal today. Joining them on tour was Poland's technical death metal standard-bearers Decapitated and Georgia band Baroness. Rarely must one distinguish between America's Georgia and Europe's Georgia, but with two other European acts, it makes sense to emphasise that Baroness hails from Savannah.
Unfortunately, my mental autopilot got the best of me, and I failed to realize that the show started a couple hours before I thought it did. Because of this, I didn't get to see Decapitated or Baroness - a sincere disappointment - but I got to see about an hour of the headliner's performance, which very much met the expectations of the band's reputation.
From the very beginning, you can tell why the band is considered to be one of the forefathers of the genre Djent. Djent is a really cool name for a genre because it is derived from the onomatopoeic description of the high-gain, palm-muted guitar tones that Meshuggah is known for. On display were thundering bass lines, commanding guitar lines, and double-bass rhythms that can only be described as dozens of bags of popcorn popping in perfect rhythmic unison.
The show evoked a feeling that is a commendable aspect of lots of metal and many other forms of music. Meshuggah shirks pleasant-sounding melodies in favor of a loud, abrasive sound, but in this disharmony, there is sort of an elegant craftsmanship. The rhythms they play really resonate with the listener. This effect usually manifests itself with toe-tapping, but in this instance, it's headbanging. The metal fan can't help but at least bob his or her head to the music, and that says a lot about the band's skill to take an otherwise ugly-sounding style of music and make it fairly sophisticated. The shear technical precision of the musicians, the varied time signatures, and the one-of-a-kind syncopation they use connects with the metal fan on a subconscious, visceral level, where the heart of great music pumps like double bass drums on stage.
While Meshuggah has a great style and great songs, they suffer, I believe, from what I like to call the AC/DC syndrome, meaning that all of their songs sound more-or-less like one song, but it's a GREAT song. This is a criticism I often have with various metal acts, especially those which prefer the technical side of the genre. For a band, however, that chooses to ignore traditional melodies and hooks, this aspect may not be much of a detriment. The technical prowess that the band has and the way they evoke (sometimes aggressive) physical reactions in the listeners points to their staying-power as a titan of metal.
Written by Ross Crandall, Radio K volunteer
Black Keys and Arctic Monkeys @ The Target Center
May 15th, 2012
It was a night of showmanship last night at the Target Center. The Arcitc Monkeys opened for headliner, The Black Keys, and wouldn’t let a soul sit down – not that they wanted to. In fact, just as my mom tried to take a seat, frontman Alex Turner introduced “Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair”. That seemed to be the theme throughout the night, as Turner and the Monkeys’ incredible stage presence – complete with spins, dives, and knee-slides – preceded a remarkable show from The Black Keys. It’s easy to forget that the Keys have such a vast repertoire, but we were swiftly reminded as they gracefully swan-dove in and out of their first five releases, occasionally surfacing to play some hits from their most recent albums, Brothers and El Camino. As they closed their set with “Lonely Boy”, I was speechlessly glad to be able to see and participate in a 15,000-person semi-choreographed dance taken straight from the music video for the song. After a teasingly long absence, singer and guitarist Dan Auerbach, and drummer Pat Carney returned to the stage to finish with three tracks, ending in a guitar-shredding, extended rendition of “I Got Mine” off of their 2008 album, Attack & Release. I believe I speak for the entire arena when I say I left with a strong feeling of satisfaction at their performance. Bravo, boys.
Written by Alex Dziura, Radio K Communications Manager
Grouplove and Reptar @ The Varsity Theater
May 16th, 2012
Tuesday night's Grouplove show at the Varsity was an indicator of a band rapidly gaining steam. Their last appearance here, also at the Varsity, was only 8 months ago and had, as frontman Christian Zucconi remarked during the show, "probably 100 people" at it. Their debut full-length, Never Trust a Happy Song, had only been released a month earlier. The track "Tongue Tied" went to be featured in an iPod commercial and gained heavy rotation on various radio stations. The group was more than happy to let other members take the spotlight at various points during the set, playing the raucous "Spun" sung by guitarist Andrew Wessen (who was playing a 10-string ukelele), and "Chloe" sung by bassist Sean Gadd. The set closed with "Slow" which saw the band flex their upgraded budget that has come along with their increased popularity, utilizing colorful glowing microphone stands for each member and pulsing strobe lights. It was no surprise that the encore featured the aforementioned song that many came to see, "Tongue Tied", which sparked a substantial response from this new fanbase. It was during this encore that Zucconi hastily splashed his mug with some dark blue facepaint before appropriately launching in to what has become the group's signature song, "Colours". After now having seen them twice I can say with confidence that there aren't many bands around that display the enthusiasm and infectious positive energy that Grouplove are overflowing with. Catch them next time you can, but beware, I predict it'll be at a larger venue with a steeper price because they show no signs of slowing down.
Written by Tom Steffes, Radio K Volunteer
Photo Credit: Ryan Siverson
Black Dice and Marijuana Deathsquards @ The Cedar
May 8th, 2012
My inner ear hair cells hopefully will forgive me for not wearing earplugs; decibels were running high in the best way possible at The Cedar Cultural Center on May 8th. HASPS and Marijuana Death Squads opened to an energized crowd. Black Dice simply walked in loud and proud with a constant stream of industrial, noise rock. Although the band didn’t physically move much, the sound they produced dictated that you must move along with it. No stillness stirred in the audience.
Written by Abbie Gobeli, Radio K volunteer
Neon Indian @ First Avenue Mainroom
May 4th, 2012
It’s a muggy, Minneapolis night at First Avenue and before Neon Indian takes the stage, Austin, TX duo Silent Diane opens with an electrocuting, space-age sound that blanketed the crowd with a heavy layer of synth. Up next: Lemonade, a band too sweet for my taste. Lemonade is comprised of three guys with poppy drums, bubbly synth chords, and bright vocals whining out lyrics such as “Put your cool hands on me,” which made me reminisce about my middle school days when kids listened to bands like Simple Plan. Alas, the opener storm passed and Neon Indian graced the stage with an astronomical presence highlighted by fog machines and psychedelic colored visuals projected in the main room. Everyone in the audience danced along with frontman, Alan Palomo as he performed electronically charged songs such as, “Fallout,” “Polish Girl,” and “Deadbeat Summer.” The audience became pretty rowdy as people crowd surfed towards the stage. My friend and I had the misfortune of getting hit in the head by these surfers multiple times. But the throbbing headaches were worth Alan asking us if we were all right and giving us a nod saying, “These last few songs are for you.”
Written by Abbie Gobeli, Radio K volunteer