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

Categories: Last Night
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.

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.

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