Posts tagged "the varsity"
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
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
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