Run Westy Run at First Avenue, 12/27/13

Categories: Last Night
Run_Westy_Run_Steve_Cohen.JPG
Photo by Steve Cohen

Run Westy Run
with San Dimas and the Goondas
First Avenue, Minneapolis
Friday, December 27, 2013

Minneapolis will always have its musical history and Run Westy Run will always be a part of it. People will always recall them with a reverence that few other acts in this city are ever afforded. Friday night at First Avenue, however, the RWR boys almost ended up with a Roger Maris-style asterisk next to their name by the end. What started off as a promising revisit to one of the more fun bands this city has seen in the past 30 years quickly devolved into a directionless miasma of style over substance.

See Also: Slideshow: Run Westy Run at First Avenue, 12/27/13


After a too-long wait, the band took to the balloon-decorated stage amid the roar of the approving crowd. Lead singer Kirk Johnson popped up from under a long box that had been placed over him just prior to the screen being raised. The band promptly broke into "Dizzy Road," from their 1988 self-titled sophomore release, and it seemed to have little rust clinging to it, if any at all. As they continued, the set seemed to be coalescing nicely with songs like the tightly wound "Circles of Joy." It was reminiscent of the Replacements for its shambolic jangle, but funkier, the edges sharper.

Run_Westy_Run_Balloons_Steve_Cohen.JPG
Run_Westy_Run_Front_Steve_Cohen.JPG
Photos by Steve Cohen

It started to get stale quickly, however. The plot got lost in such a flurry, it was hard to pinpoint exactly what happened. But the show got old before it even had a chance to fully warm up.

The balloons in the background, we came to find out, were part of an art installation that began with "Dizzy Road" and continued for the entire set. Three other people, all with spelunking lights on, stepped out of the shadows between songs and taped things together. They assembled cardboard cutouts that were balanced on the floor, and other such oddities, but it seemed to have no point. It was pseudo-Dadaist and half-baked. If it was supposed to be funny, the punch line never came. If it was supposed to be serious, it was simply wrong-headed.

Soon after, the band brought out three special guests -- local luminaries Ed Ackerson, Marc Perlman and Jim Boquist -- to help with a couple of songs, and while it should have been a nice little detour, it stopped what little momentum they had so suddenly that the entire crowd should have had whiplash. From there the show never really regained any semblance of organization or anything else. It was nothing short of a complete mess from then on.


My Voice Nation Help
92 comments
Forbes33
Forbes33

Nitwitnight....my bad, I mean Neightynight....you're correct; I did wear a flannel....see it was five million degrees below zero...I also wore, shoes, socks, boxers, jeans, a grey Twins stalking hat, a Navy Peacoat......oh, and a plain white Haynes tee shirt....I would have worn Just "your bands" "concert tee" but they never made one.....and nobody remembers you but you.....And let's get something clear before I leave this "String" forever....I only "Fawn" over Tullamore Dew, GangStarr, George Jones, Pearl Jam at Wrigley, Beasties at 1st Ave, Radiohead in Kansas City, Neil Young and Hockey.....I wish you and Pat O'nobody a happy life together......Lates!

Tom Chipman
Tom Chipman

I don't care if someone likes Run Westy Run or not. But the review did a great public disservice in basically telling the general reader if they haven't heard RWR yet they can rest assured they weren't missing a thing all these years. I did not experience the show devolving into any sort of mess, and I think the reviewer is in a very small minority opinion there. Also, insinuating if they were better they would have been bigger nationally? Usually a music critic is the last to believe "bigger means better". Perhaps they weren't bigger because they never sold out. They didn't write an "I'll Be You". And the potshots at the age of the audience? RWR started almost 30 years ago, broke up about 15 years ago, have never had radio support, a major label album, and all their albums are now out of print. How old do you expect the audience to be? And the drunkeness comments: It did happen to be the Friday night between Xmas and New Years. I heard and saw a lot worse drunken antics that night than someone simply never having heard of Patron like the reviewer heard, but what does that have to do with the band?

emozey
emozey

I completely disagree with the review of RWR's reunion show. I couldn't have been more impressed (except I was - the next night at the Turf Club). I am not going to let one reviewer (who seemed to focus on everything but the music) change my opinion about the show. He is entitled to his opinion but it was pretty obvious that the majority of the crowd did not agree with him. RWR rocked!


herb30
herb30

I've seen a lot of reunion shows and just plain "back from the day" acts in the last couple of years. Some I have wanted to see have sucked badly (Pixies, Gang of Four, Suburbs (sorry, had to be honest)), some have been incredible (Replacements, Suicidal Tendencies, The Selector). I have to say I was super looking forward to RWR, but sadly work made me miss them. I saw them a lot back "then", they were fabulous live, and their music has only grown on me since. Anyway, if a reviewer is not familiar with a band, the very least they can do is, a) show some professionalism and educate themselves before going to the show (hopefully before, if not, then after) before sounding like an idiot with non-facts (sophomore album?), and b) if you are ignorant of the band and their audience and their repertoire and their schtick, then spare us your gonzo-lite personal experience because we don't care, you aren't Hunter S. Thompson (not that interesting), and you should just REPORT HOW THE CROWD RESPONDED. A honest phrase such as "Well, for whatever reason it wasn't working for me at all, but then, I don't know much about them, didn't see them back in their day, and desite my own experience I have to say that obviously the crowd was all over this shit.", would redeem your objectivity and make you sound like less of a pompous asshat sticking it to the oldsters, because (you poor thing) you weren't lucky enough to see these bands back then and instead are stuck reviewing crap like Modest Mouse. Bottom line is every one of my friends who went is still raving about it, and from the video that is popping up everywhere the band sounds like they were large, in charge, and the crowd is loving every minute of it. So who are we to believe, the videos, or your Grinch-like review? Sorry you didn't enjoy yourself, maybe get off Facebook/Twitter/whatever and just put yourself in the show next time?

Swedesrock
Swedesrock

First I was blown-away by the SO off-the-mark review. What Pat O'Brien wrote was just so discordant with everything I and hundreds of other people felt and experienced that I wondered if he was actually reviewing the same show. The writer could have done some research (you know, with the internet, YouTube and even--gasp! record stores) before the show and gotten an idea of what to expect. But, to each his own, and he has the right to an opinion, regardless of how mis- or underinformed I think it is.


But secondarily, this post really irked me:

ReedFischer (moderator)
2 days ago @Xnschutz Pat has written for us for years, and he retains good standing with us by being honest -- even when it's not a popular stance. City Pages and its regular readers have grown to trust his thoughts on live music, and that's the "intended audience" we have to keep in mind.


I understand the urge to defend your employee (I am assuming as moderator you are somehow in charge of or work with him), but by saying "that's the 'intended audience' we have to keep in mind" it leaves me wondering this: Do you care about the actual audience that was there? Might it be appropriate for a reporter to report on the experience of the actual audience in attendance?


Just a thought. Perhaps the collective experience of the hundreds or more people who loved it might bear a little mentioning in the "music" review. Oh, and maybe some of that other stuff pdlars mentioned, like, I don't know, who the musicians were and stuff.


But I guess that might take away from the "me, me, me!" focus of O'Brien's "review." Yeah, I know, I was in high school at the same time as the writer, college in a different city, didn't get to see RWR play live back in the day too, blah blah blah. The difference is that I became familiar with their music by listening to them, and so was properly impressed when they tore the roof off those places on Friday and Saturday

.

Both the First Ave and Turf Club shows were unreal. Terry Fisher is an AMAZING guitarist (and a VERY nice person) who ripped it up flawlessly both nights, Kirk Johnson is more athletically gifted than I've ever been (impressive backwards somersault from the ground- to stage-level after he jumped down into the crowd to sing right to the people) and a transfixing singer and performer, Kraig Johnson continues to look hot and play cool, Tommy Merkel had a beautiful permagrin on his face as he rocked all night, and Bobby J played with a succinct fury that anchored it all together. They all did this ALL NIGHT, BOTH NIGHTS.


So to those who weren't there (and to Pat O'Brien, as well) I'm sorry you missed it. It was glorious. You can find some videos I've posted on YouTube (at "Swede's Rock") and decide for yourself. They may be crappy video quality (combo of "thanks for suckin', iPhone" and the inability to stop myself from dancing) but they have wonderful audio quality and can help someone understand what it was like to be there.


ROCK ON!!

Rob Lowry
Rob Lowry

Damon Contreras - Seriouisly, Sorry some dbags took away from your experience. :( Glad you enjoyed the show anyway like virtually everyone did. Too bad the reviewer exaggerated the crowd and made it sound like a bunch of drunken teeneagers. Anyway, thanks for clarifying, Damon. :)

Damon Contreras
Damon Contreras

Hey Rob. I was at the edge of the stage right and around some drunk fools. Show was still good though.

Rob Lowry
Rob Lowry

DamonConyreras - Were you at the shows? I was at both shows, I stood by the soundboard to get a panoramic view during the First Ave show, and I was 1st/2nd/3rd row front and center at the Turf and I never once saw a drunken arguement, a drunken fight, anyone acting immaturely, never got elbowed or stepped on or pushed or crushed like usually used to happen at all these tupes of shows when you are up front in the "mosh" area. The crowd was from everything I saw very mature, polite and well behaved ... despite how excited and worked up many were to see them. Sure there was drinking going on, but everyone I saw handled their drinks extremely well. Anyway ... who the F cares about the crowd? What about the actual music as experienced by 95% of the concertgoers? THAT is objective. THis review is SUBJECTIVE. Oh and its disrespectful and lazy too.

Charlotte Josephine Alvarez
Charlotte Josephine Alvarez

ReedFischer's "moderating" of this difference of opinion is pretty sad, too. Oh, City Pages Minneapolis, y'all are the real epic fail here.

Rob Lowry
Rob Lowry

"Things got stale pretty quickly" says the reviewer yet both sold out shows were packed to the end of the encores with joyous, energized, rockin fans. I was sober at both shows and never saw all the drunken disorderliness this reviewer speaks of. After the shows I couldn;t help but overhear all the concertgoers recount their favorite songs or mention how it was the best show by any band they have ever seen. This guy didn't mention that none other than Grant Hart, the uber-talented member of the massively influential, legendary band Husker Du just happened to pop on stage to sing backups on a song? Are you kidding me? Apparently he left early ... either that or he has no CLUE about Minneapolis and national post-punk music history. Either way, if he left early how would he know it fizzled out, if he doesn;t knwo who Grant Hart is he should NOT be reviewing legendary performers. Oh ... and Peter Buck from REM, along with Grant Hart, are HUGE fans of the band. But 'm sure this reviewer was too busy to be bothered by that. Even so... All context aside... the crowd stayed past the encore and was as pumped at the end as the beginning. Why don't you report that? Oh well..... TPT's artist spotlight will be moreobjective about it. Hopefully next time Westy plays 9and they are going to because how warmly they were received), hopefully a real journalist goes to cover it and actually stays therefor the whole show and spends less time critiquing the crowd and the (meant to be funny) stage items and more time actually watching the magnetic performance and listening to the timeless music.

fishela
fishela

I cracked the code! Pat O'Brian was pissed that his bearded buddy Nicholas David canceled his show at First Ave that night! That's why he and his friend Kyle was so pissed about the Westie's playing!

sodakjack
sodakjack

I couldn't disagree more with this review. I went to the concert not knowing their music at all, but I enjoyed every minute of the RWR set. They had great energy and sound from the guitars and the vocals. Unlike the reviewer I wish I had seen more of their concerts back in the 90's. They put on an awesome show! I can't believe he went to the same show. Did he talk to anyone from the audience or notice that the crowd was totally into and loving the show?? Everyone I talked to, loved the show. I was also on twitter and saw that all were loving the show. What's the hidden agenda or grudge with this reviewer?

pheadrus
pheadrus

I tried to reply to what a moderator said about this reviewer (said he could be trusted and is honest) and it wouldn't post so I will try again:

Well they can start to NOT trust every word this reviewer says because the show did not peter out into a "mess" like he said. The sold out show stayed PACKED until the encore was over and people were STILL cheering for them to come back onstage. I saw a panoramic view of the crowd and it seemed pretty tame and under control, yet joyous and enamored.... NOT drunk and disorderly like the reviewer claims. Heck, even the mosh area looked MInnesota Nice. I was SOBER, by the way

No mention of Grant Hart, a local historical figure/post-punk icon/nationally inluential member of the legendary band Husker Du singing backups on a song? Are you kidding me? Most bands have wet dreams where that wouldn't happen. Grant happens to be a huge Run Westy Fan as is Peter Buck from REM.

All I saw was a crowd WAY into it from start to finish and people are STILL talking about it. I had a patient of mine ask me what I did last weekend and I told him (thinking he wouldn't have a clue who they were) and he said "Really?  My co-worker who goes to a show every week said it was the best show she has ever seen."

Hopefully next time Run Westy plays here a different person reviews them, because this review was the exact OPPOSITE of what virtually every person experienced who went there.

flamingbagofpoo
flamingbagofpoo

By the way this is hilarious. So much vitriol from the middle aged set. Hilarious!

Forbes33
Forbes33

Neightynight, which is it, closer to 50 or 60? You mentioned about "60"; that would place you about 20 yrs older than me, and since you're a Math Professor at the University of Clown, you can figure out when I saw the Westies, locations were 7th Street, Main Room and 400 Bar.......Pssssst, here's a couple tips for you...don't try and match Susanlynn in the vocabulary department and get bent.

Andrew Korf
Andrew Korf

Embarrassed for the City Pages after reading this. I missed the show but the comments I've seen from friends unanimously illustrate how far off the mark this hack is ... Why send some kid who has never seen (or perhaps listened to) to review RWR? Do yourself a favor and retract this and adding a statement that this unfortunate drivel was written by someone who is no longer employed by City Pages.

bowwowmeowmeow
bowwowmeowmeow

I didn't expect everyone to love the two RWR shows as much as I did. They never sold out the mainroom in their time though, so there was definitely a lot of excited fans there. That said, Pat, pick one of your favorite local/national bands that broke up 15 years ago, while they were still a great band. When they reunite, and everyone you used share the love of that band with (numbering in the hundreds of people) attends their reunion shows, send someone who doesn't know any of their music, who is 10+ years younger than you, and make sure they only stay for half the concert.  You'll likely get the same review as you wrote about RWR, doncha think?  As I said, I'm not expecting such a person to love RWR or their reunion concerts, but if I couldn't attend and I was looking for a review I would have wanted to read more about the concert (songs?), the audience reaction (of course some were drunk), the musicianship (I was shocked that they weren't sloppy, with only a few days rehearsal), and what the band had to say.

susanlynn
susanlynn

Neightynight, myopic perspectives defend myopic perspectives, which is just how it goes sometimes, but you sound like the little bullie's mother coming to his aid. RWR has a repetitive dissonant sound that often drives downward. What Kirk sings about is socio-cultural and never seems to rest in terms of what you can take from it. Also the theatrics, mannerisms and histrionics are different from anything anywhere. The dadaist reference was nice although derogatory.

To clarify things, this appreciation of absurdist artful dissonance is far from tired hippydom, by about two generations, heh heh.

fishela
fishela

Dear Mr O'Brien, Your review was Hardly, Not Even a review. You barely mentioned the music itself, the energy of the crowd, or the amount of fun the band and the concert-goers were having. Clearly everyone, except you, enjoyed the show. The band had what, a couple of days, at most, to rehearse. So they were a little sloppy, they haven't played together in what, 15 years? What songs did the band play? Maybe you shouldn't have left the show early, so you could have gotten a set list. Really? What music critic does that? Who was in the line-up? The Westies have had different line-ups over the years, someone who wasn't at the show, but wanted to be, would want to know this. I think you should have done a little more research before the show. Maybe you should't have been hanging out, near the bar, and instead up front, where you would have a better vantage point. Sorry you had such a horrible time. And I'm also sorry that you were born a little too late to be a part of this magical time. Oh yeah, you forgot to mention the cameo appearance of Grant Hart. Maybe you've heard of him? He was the drummer for another Minneapolis favorite, Husker Du.

Xnschutz
Xnschutz

Okay, I feel compelled to say more. I feel that Mr. O'Brien's review was an honest, well written article. Many others wanted him to talk more about the music and the sound, which is a critique with some merit. Calling the guy names and telling him which objects or body parts he can have sex with is not on my agenda, however. In fact, I don't even feel that compelled to pick the review apart. I might not agree with everything in the review, but each reader and concert goer will have his own personalized take from the show and the article. My issue was with City Pages for assigning this review to Mr. O'Brien.

Each show will have an intended audience, which in this case was primarily veteran concert goers from MN who were longtime fans of Run Westy Run. Others may attend and enjoy or dislike the show, but I don't think it is good journalism (again, on CP's part) to assign someone to cover the show who lacked the perspective that the intended audience brought to the concert experience. Let me use another entertainment medium to illustrate my example.

"Grudge Match", a move I have not seen, was obviously (based on the adverts) created for an audience who was very familiar with the previous films by Robert DeNiro and Sly Stallone. The commercials show comedy gags based on the very successful, critically acclaimed, and award winning moves Raging Bull and those of the Rocky franchise.

Now I'm not saying this movie is any good. It might be pretty bad. But I strongly believe that a film reviewer shouldn't be writing and publishing a critical piece of journalism on this movie if they hadn't seen Raging Bull or Rocky. The jokes would be lost on that person and almost invariably fall flat. This critic could be a really nice person, a tremendous writer, and an open-minded film goer. What he or she IS NOT, however, is someone for whom this film was intended. It's intended audience is people who have a strong familiarity with Raging Bull and Rocky and the reviewer (in my opinion) ought to represent that audience first. At that point, if the reviewer thinks the movie is great, or it sucks, or whatever, I would feel as a reader that I've read an informed piece of journalism which speaks to me as someone who may want to see the film or may have seen it and want another take.

Forbes33
Forbes33

Neightynight, no question you're older than most...."I saw all the bands from back in the day"...nobody on this string cares that you saw Lawrence Welk and Shaun Cassidy....I actually don't recall seeing your "age" bracket at the Westies shows "back in the day"...bit of a creeper?...the clumsy cardboard "stuff" was supposed to be clumsy you donkey...I suppose you saw the Beastie Boys at First Ave "back in the day" as well.....but probably not. Nighty Night square head and shame on me for berating the old D Bag that stuck up for the "youthful writer"....terrible....nerd.

Neightynight
Neightynight

Listen to you old people berating the youthful writer. Terrible.

I'm most likely older than most of you. I'm almost 60. I saw this band, I saw all the bands from "back in the day". You sound like crabby, angry old jerks, picking on the writer because of his age. Shame on you. You have become defensive old crabs. Just because you were a fan of a band that came and went, and you want everyone to believe they were some great band does not make it so. 


The cardboard stuff was clumsy. The balloons silly. The band dull. Stop looking at the past through purple colored glasses or whatever they are. 


Grow old more gracefully for christ's sake. You sound like the boring old hippies did when they realized they were no longer valid. 

susanlynn
susanlynn

It's good to see so many people roasting this greenhorn who speaks arrogantly in generic terms. What a daft visit of a night. Clearly this chap who I wouldn't call a music critic, is unable to bring anything experiential to a larger audience of readers, after completely missing all jouissance and the fact, that every fiber of original style RWR has, is made entirely of substance in their very core. 


So, this bad review, is all part of the entertainment. It's actually sickeningly funny how this review was obviously written by an unread, inexperienced, outsider, to whom, the clumsy cardboard, simply seemed clumsy. The value seen here is what happens to pie eyed, blank minded youth when something of this seasoned caliber of utter wildness mixed with vivid conscience stands before them.


The wastefulness, is that having to read the greenhorn's words, proliferating banter on negative terms about artistic expressions of RWR that are clearly and explosively loved, is disturbingly just plain stupid. Pat O'Brian the Greenhorn, is as full of shit as the flamingbagofpoo himself.

Forbes33
Forbes33

Pat O'Brien, a quarter way through your "review" I knew you had never seen RWR back in the day....And all music cred was gone....I would love to compare resumes of shows/venues with you, I know one on yours but not mine is probably Fall Out Boy....you completely missed your mark as a critic and writer.....you simply can't write about what you don't understand.....no cred Pat.

Charlotte Josephine Alvarez
Charlotte Josephine Alvarez

Was Kyle the person I was replying to, as well? His comments have disappeared so the thread doesn't read quite right anymore. Anyway, a weekend to remember. For real RWR fans.

TheBohunk
TheBohunk

Almost like he had to look it up, right. I could swallow a bad review from someone who actually knew what they were talking about as opposed to someone who supported themselves with bad Cliff Notes.

PowderBurns
PowderBurns

Why do you think reviews written about anything isn't all about the reviewer to begin with?

Neightynight
Neightynight

@Forbes33

I suppose my band should have reunited for this so you could fawn all over our lame '90s sound too. You would have absolutely been in nostalgia heaven! Did you wear your flannel? :)

Neightynight
Neightynight

@susanlynn You have the myopic perspective because you are a big fangirl of the band. Step back, stop putting lofty academics into a pedestrian rock band and you have nothing but a mundane rock band with cardboard cutouts onstage. 

ReedFischer
ReedFischer moderator

@Xnschutz Pat has written for us for years, and he retains good standing with us by being honest -- even when it's not a popular stance. City Pages and its regular readers have grown to trust his thoughts on live music, and that's the "intended audience" we have to keep in mind.

Neightynight
Neightynight

@Forbes33 Uh.. I'm about the same age as most of the people that used to see these bands. We're mostly in our 50s now. But ha ha! Lawrence Welk! More like The Birthday Party, PIL, Killing Joke et al. 

You seem to have a difficult time with figuring out numbers and age. I'm guessing you weren't there in the 80s and 90s. 

pssst.. a band I was in even opened for RWR... I was most certainly there.

charlottejoalvarez
charlottejoalvarez

@Neightynight Hahahahaha!  Rereading this thread, us old folks are not the ones that sound ungraceful.  We sound like we know music and have higher expectations for a MUSIC review.  Maybe the writer will learn a little something here.  One could only hope...  

solace
solace

Sorry about that! I didn't realize that comments posted on the FB page also got mirrored to the website comments :/.

susanlynn
susanlynn

@Neightynight @susanlynn To clarify, the myopic perspective was your's defending the myopic and very subjective perspective of Pat O'Brian who was disgruntled and curmudgeonly about very personal problems, and unable to experience the show. Your generic bites are plain as your brain and plain stupid. Fangirl? I was The Young Cherries first drummer when I was in my mid-teens. What is age? All this dashing of middle age in this stream is just useless and stupid. Your as old as you feel, and you get old when you stop. 


susanlynn
susanlynn

@ReedFischer @Xnschutz I'm sorry, can you even justify your words here, which obviously exclude the RWR audience from "the intended audience"?

tomservomn
tomservomn

@ReedFischer@XnschutzRight when you spoke on behalf of City Pages regular readers you were dismissed by me.  That's a lie, because you can't speak for them.  City Pages struggles to create ad revenue (porn ads in the paper version, click baiting in the current).  You don't have the time or the resources to be that in touch with your regular readers.  Period.
It was a bad choice of a reviewer for a show of this significance.

City Pages is capable of making bad choices.  That is why it is what it is today.

pdlars
pdlars

@ReedFischer Opinions aside, some of your "intended audience" and "regular readers" just might be interested in knowing who was on stage and what they were playing, too - you know, Journalism 1001 stuff - especially for a "reunion" show of this significance. The band had several different lineups and a performing career of over a decade. Just saying...

susanlynn
susanlynn

@Neightynight @susanlynn You see, this is exactly what everyone here seems to be saying, you and I can banter on like Epic Battles of Rap History, but there is such a thing as VALUABLE OPINION. The Young Cherries played a role in getting Movies In The Park rolling, the first summer of which, they would start playing while the sun was still shining and would draw mobs and mobs of listeners in the hundreds, many who didn't know there would be a movie playing afterword in Loring Park. Because of The Young Cherries, people were draw to, and learned of the weekly event. CP happily covered this phenomenon, with laudatory applause for the Young Cherries', bravato overture. Let's not rewrite history, leaving some of the best parts out. You may just not like the music, and you don't get it, but what you and O'Brian are espousing is not valuable opinion. 

pheadrus
pheadrus

@Neightynight @susanlynn most wish YOU would stop with your personal attacks, no room for that here.  Sorry you can't handle the undeniable FACTS the show was amazing, sold out, packed until after the encores and everyone was begging for more..  Sorry that doesn't fit into your little narrative.

jsr777
jsr777

@tomservomn@ReedFischer@Xnschutz I was at the show also.  Was excited to see them, liked them in the day.  Agree pretty much with the review. I don't get this name calling, and fussing about the reviewer.  He has a right to his opinions, and gets paid to offer them - and you have a right to yours... but truly... get over it.. it was so last weekend.

solace
solace

Yeah, now that I know, I'll just use the CP website to comment ;)

Now Trending

Around The Web

From the Vault

 

Minnesota Event Tickets
Loading...