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.

Figgles McGee of Gabriel and the Apocalypse

Figgles McGee of Gabriel and the Apocalypse by aztalanturf

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.

As|Of at TC Electropunk 6 CD Release

As|Of at TC Electropunk 6 CD Release by aztalanturf

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

OBCT at TC Electropunk 6 CD Release by aztalanturf

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.

The Rope

The Rope Varsity Theater Marquee

Source: The Rope's Official Facebook

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

TC Electropunk vol 6 cover

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 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.

Upcoming Shows

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:

Date Lineup Venue
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.

9 thoughts on “Golden Age of Minnesota Music?

  1. Thank you for the wonderful write up for The Rope! The guys have been writing up a storm since the EP release and we promise an album that will prove you to be very correct about a second Golden Age of Twin Cities music.


    • Thanks for the update, David! The new tracks that have been performed live are great. Can’t wait to get my grubby little paws on a full length album 🙂

  2. No mention of Cepia or Mystery Palace. For instrumental electronics, Dissociate is the best. For Darker stuff, Amdeide was king- but he’s now in New York.
    Then for electro pop, nothing beats Mystery Palace.

    • So much great music to keep track of! Thanks, rbwilliams207 🙂 Doesn’t look like Cepia or Mystery Palace have any shows planned at the moment, but here are the links I found for anyone else who wants to check them out:

  3. Hello, I appreciate the mention of the local metal scene, as I have been a participant for quite some time. I felt the need to throw out some names, of a few of the very talented bands that make up our scene. In the shadows of the “hardcore” or “deathcore” scenes headed by After The Burial, and Your Memorial, there’s a very strong underground extreme metal scene that I feel gets overlooked. There are extremely talented musicians that play in this ghost scene we call home. Unfortunately the scene is close to dead for death n thrash metal, so bands like Australis, Demonicon, and Bloodgeon are small dots on the radar. Yet names that time after time get better, more solid, and bring a truly professional show for the audience, who at most times is a drop in the bucket. Bands like Noble Beast, and Dawn of Valor. Cwn Awnwn (if I spelled that right, my bad Neil.), and Cold Colours holding up the power and melodic metal genre. Bands like Viral Mutation, Daigoro, The Terrordactyles, In Defense, Rivet, and my band Deretla representing the Thrash scene, and new bands up and coming like Plagued Insanity, Lockgnar, Efinheimer, and Invidiosis. Minnesota has an amazing underground/extreme metal scene, that has very few local supporters. The greater majority of the scene are people in bands, and it is unfortunate to see these talented artists struggle to draw a crowd. I watch shows fill up all the time when a national band of the genre comes through. Bands like Cannibal Corpse, Kreator, Overkill, and Origin filling the room with fans of extreme metalheads. There is a market, there are enough participants to have a scene. Just wanted to throw this up here, an apology to anybody I forgot, thanks for your time.

    Brandon (vocalist, Deretla)

    • Awsome list, Brandon! Thanks for posting. We don’t usually focus on metal for our shows, so I kept the blog to the “darkwave” bands, however note that Cwn Annwn is opening for I:Scintilla on March 30. I 100% agree that there is some great metal in the Twin Cities.

      I’ll add a few to your list….Hate Beast, Johnnyrook (kinda but not really metal but they seem to hang with the metal bands), Whithering the Tide, Screaming Mechanical Brain, Black Flood Diesel, Nuisance, and Thira.

  4. Great article. And thanks for telling me about the show at the Hexagon, I’ll have to scoot on down. (Right in my backyard, awesome!) I missed the Varsity show, but I was at the Triple Rock. Gabriel and the Apocalypse have been on my radar since I heard of them on KFAI. Which is also where I heard the Rope. I really enjoy living in a town that’s overrun with bands.
    And I’ll have to tell a fellow fan about the Hex show. I owe her a drink.

    • Thanks for mentioning KFAI. I could go on all day about the great DJs we have in the area. Did you hear GATA and The Rope on Across the Board, by chance? We are very lucky to have radio stations like KFAI, The Current and Radio K for promoting local and other generally under appreciated music.

  5. Are we forgetting about the up and coming bands that fill up a venue better than these old schoolers. What about reflections, we are the blog!, and rochester minnesota’s very own “tonight’s the night”?

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