Posts tagged "varsity theater"
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
Minus The Bear
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
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
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