Gayngs at Coachella, Nikki Sixx phones it in at the Fitz, and more notes from the weekend

Photos by Denis Jeong Plaster
April is continuing to roar by us at a steady clip, and this past weekend our local scene was so bustling that we had to export some of our musicians out to Indio, California, before the whole town overflowed.

The big Twitter buzz this weekend was surrounding Coachella, the three-day music festival that takes place each year in the California desert.

This year, we had two Minnesota-based acts that were invited to perform at the high-profile fest, with Trampled by Turtles holding down a daytime slot on Saturday afternoon and whipping the crowd into a "square dancing mosh pit," while Gayngs occupied a coveted midnight slot in the Mojave tent on opening night.

Photos by Denis Jeong Plaster
On Sunday, Justin Vernon of Gayngs/Bon Iver made the rounds at the festival, sitting in with the National during their set and then joining Kanye West for the grand finale.

For all of our Coachella coverage, see our slideshows by Denis Jeong Plaster:

Back home in the Twin Cities, the weekend kicked off with an incredibly busy Friday night. Voltage: Fashion Amplified took over First Avenue with performances by Me & My Arrow, Phantom Tails, Pink Mink, Communist Daughter, and Fort Wilson Riot, who were decked out in fashions by local designers and vintage shop owners.

Photo by Stacy Schwartz
Fort Wilson Riot at Voltage
Across the river, MPR hosted another installment of Wits at the Fitzgerald Theater, this time featuring special guest writer Chuck Klosterman and musician Craig Finn of the Hold Steady. The program opened with an interview session between host John Moe and Klosterman, then transitioned into a quirky little DJ session where Klosterman played some of his most influential songs (from the Beach Boys and Eddie Grant to Nirvana, T. Rex, Lou Reed, and Jay-Z), and told stories about his earliest musical memories.

The show also featured a couple of choice call-in guests, the most random of which was Motley Crue bassist Nikki Sixx. In his brief time speaking over the phone, Sixx managed to somehow compare himself to John Lennon, Bono, and Neil Young and joked about opening his own yarn shop, eliciting giggles from the crowd.

The real treat came when Craig Finn sauntered out on stage with an acoustic guitar. "These are three songs I've been fooling around with lately," Finn said. "They aren't really Hold Steady songs. This is the first time I've played them for anyone." Backed by John Munson on bass, Steve Roehm on vibraphone, and Joe Savage on pedal steel, Finn sang somberly and tenderly, with more of a melodic focus than much of his full-band work. I only caught the title for one of the three songs, "Don't Hold Back," and the others had lyrics like "Came up on the western pier" and the repeated chorus of "As we wait for joyful hope."

Finn picked up the pace a bit with an upbeat cover of Husker Du's "Makes No Sense At All," a duet with John Munson that had the whole theater standing and nodding their heads in appreciation (not to mention tweeting furiously; social media use was "highly recommended" at the show). And to top it all off, Munson brought out the Ascots vocal group for a sing-along to the Beach Boys' "I Get Around" led by Finn--a grand finale that sent the audience out into the snowy streets grinning happily, despite the crappy weather.

The Turf Club, meanwhile, hosted a raucous lineup of punk and theatrics, with Anamanaguchi, Birthday Suits, and headliners Peelander-Z keeping the gathering of nerds entertained throughout the entire night.

Photo by Erik Hess
Saturday was Record Store Day, and local shoppers started lining up as early as 4:30 a.m. to snag special limited-edition releases. We made the rounds and checked out several of the participating stores, and you can read our recap and follow along with Erik Hess's Record Store Day photo essay here.

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Photo by Erik Hess
On Saturday night, Nikki Miller went out to Medina to check out an entirely different kind of show: Cinderella. Yes, as in the '80s hair metal band. They were reuniting for a 25th anniversary tour, and Nikki got her face rocked off. Read her recap and peep her photos over here.

Photo by Nikki Miller
Back in Minneapolis, First Ave (the street) was hopping as First Ave (the venue) hosted a CD-release show for Duluth rock trio Low, while the Fine Line hosted the second of two nights by alt-rock/alt-country supergroup Golden Smog.

Smog played it loose on Saturday--sometimes a little too loose--but their freewheeling attitude and playful energy made for some really stellar moments, especially when Danny Murphy took the lead on "Hurricane" with jaw-dropping drumming by Big Star's Jody Stephens (who held it down all night with a fierce presence, prompting Murphy and others to repeatedly call him "Jody Fucking Stephens").

For the encore, Gary Louris came out for a downright devastating solo acoustic performance of "Listen Joe," and the full band came out for another handful of tunes including a cover of Bread's "The Guitar Man" and teases of "Lay Down Sally" and "Stairway to Heaven," of all things.

"Yes, we are hipsters," Louris deadpanned.

See more of Steve Cohen's photos from the Golden Smog shows in our slideshow.

Photo by Steve Cohen
The weekend ended on a high note with a Sunday afternoon matinee performance by breakout acoustic duo the Civil Wars, who managed to sell out three different shows in the Twin Cities and filled the Varsity Theater to capacity. You can read our recap of that show and take a look at some beautiful photos by Stacy Schwartz over here.

Other slideshows from the weekend:

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