The Current's 7th birthday party at First Avenue, 1/27/12

Categories: Last Night
Photo by Erik Hess
The Current's 7th birthday party
With Tapes 'n Tapes, Dead Man Winter, Low, and Night Moves
First Avenue, Minneapolis
Friday, January 27, 2012

View a slideshow from the concert here and check out coverage of night two here.

The seven-year love affair between Twin Cities music fans and the Current was only strengthened over the weekend, as the tastemaking public radio station celebrated its 7th birthday in style with two sold-out nights full of all Minnesota acts over the weekend at First Avenue. Friday evening was a bit of an oddly-paced affair, but the night managed to swell to a euphoric crescendo during Tapes 'n Tapes' triumphant closing set.

The birthday bash opened with Night Moves, a local quartet who also featured prominently in Wednesday night's Best New Bands showcase. And while the group's mid-week set was a bit uneven and reserved, on this evening they were in great spirits, joking amongst themselves and the crowd, which only added to the soaring, grandiose nature of their sound. The jaunty guitar work of frontman John Pelant escalated right along with his impassioned vocals, bringing an ebullient, vibrant quality to their performance.

Photo by Erik Hess

It was dismaying that Low was second on the bill, but the Current obviously wanted to keep the energy level high as the evening wore on, so it was an understandable decision to have the subtle-but-stirring Duluth trio on earlier in the night. And, after video tributes to the Current from Tommy Stinson, St. Paul mayor Chris Coleman, and Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak, Low took to the stage, and were joined throughout their 40-minute set by Dave Carroll from Trampled By Turtles, who augmented their stark sound with his understated banjo work.

Photo by Erik Hess

And while it was nice to hear another musical layer added to Low's often delicate sound, frontman Alan Sparhawk's guitar work was rather restrained at the start, as if he didn't want to overwhelm Carroll's faint banjo. The boisterous crowd didn't really help matters either, as people talked loudly throughout Low's tranquil set. This was especially apparent on the set opening "For Your Place On Sunset," a rather hushed b-side to 2003's Murderer EP, and frustratingly continued during a trio of new songs from C'mon ("Try To Sleep," "Witches," and "Especially Me").

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