Golden Age of Minnesota Music?
I had a conversation a while back with someone from Chicago about the Chicago “industrial” music scene, and he asked me “What bands are even in Minneapolis right now?”. I didn’t have a good answer for him at the time, not because we are lacking in great music, but because a lot of the currently active bands have a mostly local focus.
Long time City Pages Gimme Noise blogger Andrea Swensson has departed the paper for The Current and in her farewell post this week, she articulated what’s been in the back of my mind for a while:
Just last month, during a taping of The Local Show with my new employer, 89.3 the Current, host Dave Campbell asked his guests if we thought we were living through another golden age of Minnesota music. Without pause, Chris Riemenschneider from the Star Tribune, Ross Raihalafrom the Pioneer Press, and myself—all longtime documentarians of the local scene—nodded our heads and answered in a unanimous “yes.”
There is some phenomenal music being created in our back yard, and it’s not just one or two genres that are thriving right now. We are very lucky. From hip hop to rock to metal to the various electronic genres, there is an abundance of tremendously talented artists and bands in the Twin Cities. But let’s focus on the darker, synth based and electronic bands.
The abundance of great local shows this past week is a perfect illustration of what’s happening on the synthy/darker side of local music right now.
- Thursday, January 5:
The Rope, Safewords, Still Pacific, Blood and the Sun at The Varsity
- Friday, January 6:
OBCT, Thought Thieves, Dissociate at the Fine Line
- Friday, January 6:
Gabriel and the Apocalypse, Pinwheel, I Corvinus, UZZA at the Triple Rock
- Friday, January 6:
Men of Sport and Leisur, Jealous Jester, Torch the Spires, As|Of at Club Underground
There were three shows on Friday night that I had on my calendar. Three! While it’s unfortunate that I had to choose one show, it says a lot about the depth of talent in the Twin Cities.
I’ll start from the top with The Rope. Most of The Rope’s shows have featured extremely diverse bills at a wide variety of venues and this is reflected in their following. The band made their debut at The Varsity Theater this past Thursday night and the crowd was filled with people of all ages and from all walks of life – everyone from the leather and combat boot clad to university students to music geeks of all assortments.
Whether they realize it or not, The Rope are on the cusp of doing something big for Minneapolis music, in particular because of their willingness to join forces with bands very different from themselves musically, including electropunks Thought Thieves and The Night. More on the electropunks later.
I’ve been lucky enough to have been introduced to the post-punk leaning rock band fairly early on in the band’s history. My first exposure was when they opened for industrial band Roughhausen at the 400 Bar in January of 2011. That first time I saw The Rope, I immediately knew that this band was something special. The band was very tight and even though each individual instrument part is fairly simple in nature, when you put everything together, the songs become so much more. The way that front man Jesse Hagon sang with all his heart that night (and each time I’ve seen them since) gave the well crafted songs that little something extra. To add to all that, I almost immediately felt the urge to dance. While I’m not in any way averse to dancing, it usually takes me a little while to get warmed up to the idea, so for me to want to start moving right off the bat is quite telling.
Look for The Rope’s video of Water to Wine, which was shot Thursday night at The Varsity. Listen here:
The Rope are playing with Funeral and the Twilight, Claps and Hollow Boys on Saturday, January 21 at The Hexagon. It’s free so no excuses. Those of you who were at The Rope’s EP release show will recognize Funeral and the Twilight, an interesting mix of surf, punk, thrash and jazz.
The TC Electropunk Movement
Electropunks OBCT, Thought Thieves and Dissociate played a short notice show at the Fine Line on Friday night and Ad|Of played at Club Underground. Apparently electropunk has been a thing here in the Twin Cities for some time, but I had not known the term until I went to the TC Electropunk Vol. 6 CD release show in December. I’ll let www.tcelectropunk.com explain the electropunk thing for the uninitiated:
Nobody invented this electropunk thing. No city can claim it (though New York certainly tries). It’s simply what happens when you take a generation of bored teens and twentysomethings – raised on hardcore punk, British techno, Nintendo, and Doritos – and place cheap digital recording technology within their grasp. Next thing you know, you’ve got a million zillion half-rock, half-electronic, cyborg bands thrashing out one MP3s after another of ragged, jagged synthesizer pop and giving it away for nothing on their websites. Nobody asked for some big record label’s permission – heck, most of them didn’t even pay for the software they’re using – they’re just doing it for the hell of it. Because there’s no excuse for boredom when you’ve got computers and guitars.
What is key about these bands is the community they’ve created. Though there’s a big range in sounds and styles, these bands play shows together, help each other and do everything with a DIY and punk rock attitude. And while many of the electropunk bands are a staple at Northeast Minneapolis’ Club Underground, you’ll find them at venues all over the Cities including Hell’s Kitchen, Cause, Ground Zero, The Nomad, 7th St. Entry, The Hexagon, The Fine Line, The Triple Rock and more and embrace playing shows with bands of different genres. It’s this sort of community, big or small, that is essential to a thriving music scene.
Here are songs from electropunks Dissociate, The Night and As|Of (remixed by fellow electropunks Kether):
Gabriel and the Apocalypse
2011 was a great year for Minneapolis based Gabriel and the Apocalypse. They released Hey You to the Rock Band Network for Xbox 360 in February, opened for Combichrist in May, recorded and released a fantastic new album this fall and then toured the Midwest with newly reformed local powerhouse, American Head Charge. They were voted December’s MN Band of the Month and Best MN Band of 2011 on St. Cloud rock radio station Rockin 101.
Gabriel and the Apocalypse have set themselves up for a big 2012. Friday’s show at the Triple Rock saw buzz from The Onion’s A.V. Club and City Pages. They are another great example of the high quality music thriving in the Twin Cities. Their next show is February 8 with, Psychostic, Ventana, As Summer Dies and Screaming Mechanical Brain at Station 4.
There are ample opportunities to see these great local bands in action, and usually at very low cost. Here are a few upcoming shows featuring local artists:
|1/14||Savage Aural Hotbed / Northstar Rollergirls Pre-Bout||Minneapolis Convention Center|
|1/15||Counterfeit I, Geodesic, Static Image, Dissociate & DJ SLT||7th St. Entry|
|1/21||The Rope, Funeral & the Twilight, Claps, Hollow Boys||The Hexagon|
|1/21||Eldergaad, OBCT, Albuterol, Kether||Station 4|
|2/8||Psychostic, Ventana, As Summer Dies, Gabriel and the Apocalypse, Screaming Mechanical Brain||Station 4|
|3/9||Gabriel and the Apocalypse, Nuisance, Index Case, Mister Fister, Oh My Goodness, Otis||Station 4|
|3/30||I:Scintilla, Thought Thieves, Cwn Annwn||Ground Zero|
Got a favorite local band of the dark or electronic genres? Are any upcoming shows missing? Post a comment.