Best 2011 concerts in the Twin Cities

Categories: Year-end blitz
Here at Gimme Noise, we kinda have a thing for live music. Practically every night of the week we deploy one of our staff members to a show, whether it's a local band playing a CD-release show at the Turf Club or a national act headlining an arena. So we had a lot of gigs to choose from by the end of this year, and a tough time narrowing down our top picks. 

In lieu of attempting to come to a consensus as a group, we thought it'd be fun to have each of our most frequent contributors list their top 10 favorite shows of 2011. Naturally, almost all of us had a hard time keeping it to just 10.

Photo by Stacy Schwartz
Motörhead at First Avenue
Cyn Collins, Writer

Brute Heart CD release party with Tender Meat, Jerusalem, and the Star Baskets - Turf Club, May 11, 2011
Reverend John Wilkins w/ Poverty Hash 7th Street Entry July 11, 2011
Morning After Girls/The Hounds Below/Magic Castles/Chatham Rise at the Crooked Pint, October 15, 2011
The Goondas CHUD EP release party w/ The Bad Spots, blood&stuff and Pink Mink 9/24/11
Blood&stuff Grumpy's residency, October, 2011
Doomtree Blowout 7 - "One Whole Fucking Week" - December 4 - 10, 2011
TIE: The Swans First Avenue, September 20, 2011 and the Cars First Avenue May 17, 2011

Honorable mentions:
• Gastro non Grata - ALL. But most recently: Bottles and Boars fe: Fortified Five, Dreamcrusher and Silverback Colony at Triple Rock Dec. 11, 2011
• All the Pretty Horses CD release party w/ The Japhies and Hastings 3000 December 2, 2011
• Porcupine/Darla at 400 Bar, November 4, 2011 (Darla is a new band-to-watch fe: Jimmy Peterson and Paul Pirner of The 757s, Mike Wisti (Rank Strangers) and John Crist (Dashboard Saviors and Bellwether). Porcupine from LaCrosse, Wisconsin is really good.) 

Shows I wish I'd attended: 
tUnEyArDs First Avenue Nov. 12, 2011, Wild Flag, Varsity Theater, Oct. 3, 2011 and The Joy Formidable, April 6, 2011

Photo by Stacy Schwartz
Lissie at the Cedar
Natalie Gallagher, Writer

Photo by Erik Hess
tUnE-yArDs at First Ave
Erik Hess, Photographer and Writer

1. tUnE-yArDs, Howler, Pat Jordache at First Avenue (10/12) [Review | Slideshow]
2. Sound Town (all of it, particularly Flaming Lips) at Somerset Amphitheater (08/19 & 08/20) [Recap | Slideshow]
3. Czeslaw's Loop on the Mississippi River during Art-A-Whirl (05/21 & 05/22) [Review | Slideshow]
4. Black Moth Super Rainbow, Dosh, Marshmallow Ghosts at the Turf Club (09/10) [Review | Slideshow]
5. KMFDM, 16 Volt, Army of the Universe at First Avenue (09/12) [Slideshow]
6. Pizza Lucé Block Party (08/13) [Review | Slideshow]
7. M83 at First Avenue (11/16) [Review | Slideshow]
8. Daytrotter Barnstormer 4 at the Free Range Film Fest Barn in Wrenshall, MN (04/26) [Review | Slideshow]
9. Gayngs Afilyated at First Avenue (03/06) [Slideshow 1 (Erik Hess) | Slideshow 2 (Stacy Schwartz) | Slideshow 3, Behind the Scenes (Graham Tolbert)]
10. Hank3 at First Avenue (11/29) [Review | Slideshow]

Honorable Mentions (Chronologically):
Goondas and All The Pretty Horses at the 331 Club (02/19)
Doomtree Showcase at SXSW (03/16) [Slideshow]
Peelander-Z, Birthday Suits, Anamanaguchi at the Turf Club (04/15) [Slideshow]
Bootsy Collins at First Avenue (06/09) [Slideshow]
Rock for Pussy at First Avenue (06/10) [Review | Slideshow]
Sondre Lerche, Kishi Bashi at the Fine Line (06/17) [Slideshow]
Peter Bjorn and John, BNLX at First Avenue (09/27) [Slideshow]
James Blake, Chairlift at First Avenue (09/28) [Review | Slideshow]
Ladytron at the Fine Line (10/03) [Review | [Slideshow]
GWAR at First Avenue (11/02) [Review | Slideshow]
Mike Mictlan's crazy Blowout rap festival at the Entry (12/05) [Recap]
P.O.S., Poliça, Marijuana Deathsquads Blowout at the Entry (12/07) Recap]

Photo by Steve Cohen
Dolly Parton at Mystic Lake
Nikki Miller, Writer

1. Don Williams at Grand Casino Mille Lacs, 9/3/11
4. Ricky Skaggs at the State Fair's Leinie Lodge Bandshell, 8/27
6. Cactus Blossoms Release Show at the Ritz with Meg Ashling and Spider John Koerner, 10/7/11
7. Charlie Daniels Band at Black Bear Casino, 11/19/11

Photo by Tony Nelson
St. Vincent at the Walker Art Center
Tony Nelson, Photographer

TV On The Radio - 1st Av
Titus Andronicus - 1st Av
Ha Ha Tonka - Varsity Theater

Photo by Erik Hess
Sleigh Bells at First Avenue
Pat O'Brien, Writer

Photo by Stacy Schwartz
Dessa at the Fitzgerald Theater
Stacy Schwartz, Photographer

2. Beirut at the Congress Theater (Chicago)
4. Joy Formidable with The Lonely Forest - 7th Street Entry
5. The Civil Wars at the IFC House - SXSW
7. Free Energy at the Lake Harriet Bandshell
8. Bob Mould at the UBS Forum

Honorable Mentions: 
Jayber Crow at Honey
NKOTBSB at the Target Center
Brandi Carlile at the Fitzgerald
The Acrocats Rock Cats at Heart of the Beast

Photo by Erik Hess
Gwar at First Avenue
Danny Sigelman, Writer

Mad Professor 7th Street Entry
Dengue Fever 7th Street Entry
Dam-Funk 7th Street Entry
Tony Allen Cedar Cultural Center
Zhao Jiazhen O'shaughnessy Auditorium
M83 at First Avenue
The Kills at First Avenue
Bootsy Collins at First Avenue
OMD at First Avenue
Gwar at First Avenue (Corey Smoot RIP!)
Anthrax and Testament at First Avenue
Toots and the Maytals at the MN Zoo
Phillip Glass at the Dakota
Dan Penn at the Dakota
Ramsey Lewis at the Dakota
Ozzy Osbourne Target Center
Wilco State Theater

Photo by Erik Hess
Diddy at Epic
Jack Spencer, Writer

1. Kyuss Lives! at First Ave (November 30)
4. Mucca Pazza at Turf Club (July 23)
6. Audio Perm Block Party at Suga Records (Aug 27)
9. Psalm One at Cause (Sep 24)

Photo by Steve Cohen
Aretha Franklin at Mystic Lake
Andrea Swensson, Editor

Photo by Erik Hess
M83 at First Avenue
Erik Thompson, Writer

3. The Joy Formidable at the 7th Street Entry (04.06.11)

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Best shows I saw in 2011....Robyn, Crystal Castles, Civil Wars, Duran Duran, Pixies, The Kills, Eddie Vedder/Glen Hansard, U2/Interpol, Bon Iver, X, Wild Flag


Destroyer + War on Drugs put on an amazing show at the Cedar this spring.


Can't believe there's no mention of the Elvis Costello spinning songbook show


Where is the Stone Arch Festival! (Mayda and BlueSky Blackout!!!)


Pat really likes First Avenue apparently.  


My favorite concerts of this year was Combichrist, Lords of Acid, The Bangles, Ladytron, Robyn, and VNV Nation.


The two best shows I saw this year were Tune Yards (by far) and Chairlift (opening for James Blake)

Mark S.
Mark S.


10. Howler % The Red Pens at Cause9. U2 w/ Interpol at TCF Bank Stadium8. Jason Isbell at The Turf Club7. Black Lips at The Varsity Theater6. Ryan Adams at State Theater5. Wilco w/ Nick Lowe at State Theater4. The Horrors at Triple Rock Social Club3. Kurt Vile & the Violators w/ Thurston Moore at The Varsity Theater2. Yo La Tengo at 400 Bar1. The War on Drugs w/Caveman at 7th St. Entry


no shout outs for jeremy messersmith / lucy michelle show in pioneer graveyard? 


I have learned that Nikki Miller really likes casino shows and washed up bands trying to pay the mortgage.

Erik Hess
Erik Hess

I wish I could've gone to that. The number of shows I wish I had seen this year but missed for various reasons outside my control was easily twice as long as my already too long list of shows that bowled me over. We've got such an embarrassment of riches here in the Twin Cities.

Nikki Miller
Nikki Miller

I initially read this as "Nikki Miller really likes casino shows and washed up bands because she's trying to pay her mortgage," and wondered how you knew me so well.


which aren't always bad. Last year I saw Willie Nelson at Mystic Lake and it was one of the best shows I've ever seen.

And Cactus Blossoms are fantastic. Nice to see someone on the CP staff who doesn't just go along with whatever's on the Current.

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