Review: New Kids on the Block Host Emotionally Resonant Bachelorette Party at Xcel

Categories: Concert Review

Tony Nelson
New Kids on the Block May 20 at Xcel Energy Center
A cynic could argue Wednesday's '90s pop Cerberus at Xcel Energy Center - Nelly, TLC, New Kids on the Block - was nothing more than a hollow Spotify playlist, three faded megastars joining forces for a Clinton-era karaoke party before their fanbases gravitate toward casinos. There might be grains of truth to that, but they're irrelevant.

Make what you will of the artistic merit of each act (only TLC shines in that area), and yeah, there's little in the way of career vitality. The only thing that truly mattered last night was the audience response. A packed house of mostly shrieking females weren't coming from a dishonest place and, from the looks of it, neither were the entertainers, each of whom yielded fan-forward sets designed for maximum nostalgic resonance. And goddamn, did they deliver - especially New Kids on the Block. If truth in art is the ideal, the emotional tidal wave that surged through the X made for an undeniable masterpiece.

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Dream of the '90s Was Alive with Torres at the Entry

Categories: Concert Review

Jerard Fagerberg
Mackenzie Scott, a.k.a. Torres, wails past convenient metaphors.

with Aero Flynn
7th St. Entry, Minneapolis
Wednesday, May 20, 2015

It's a shitty reflex to collate goodness and nostalgia, but then again, being a millennial and trying form an objective thought is a distinctly shitty endeavor.

The '90s-wave grunge comparisons abound for Mackenzie Scott, the 24-year-old Brooklyn-by-way-of-Nashville siren who bills herself as Torres. The Cranberries, Living Colour, Bush, Live -- all crowbar into the sentimental mind of a '90s kid taking in Torres's latest album, Sprinter, but all are unfair comparisons.

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Billy Joel Rocks His Way into Fans' Hearts at Target Center

Steven Cohen
Billy Joel with Gavin DeGraw
Target Center, Minneapolis
Saturday, May 16, 2015

"It's nine o'clock on a Saturday, the regular crowd shuffles in," Billy Joel sang to a sold-out crowd Saturday night at Target Center. Even though the 66-year-old singer has not written a Top 40 hit in more than two decades, his music is still a pinnacle that many artists strive to reach and defines timelessness. Classics and nostalgia were what he fine-tuned the dial to on Saturday -- enough to bring an older crowd to their feet.

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A Farewell to Kings? Rush Rock St. Paul on Final Big Tour

Categories: Concert Review

Photo By Steve Cohen
Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul
Tuesday, May 12

Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Rush stopped by St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center Tuesday night as part of their R40 Tour, a 34-date North American jaunt that the band claims will be its final large-scale trek across the country. However, if anything was clear at the almost sold-out arena gig, it's that Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart look like they're nowhere near being ready to stop.

Playing with the gusto of musicians half their age, the Canadian trio treated their Minnesota fan base to a three-hour set featuring 27 songs spanning the entirety of their four-decade career. Guitarist Lifeson bounced around the stage and posed for pictures while busting out his virtuosic riffs, singer/bassist Lee hit the high notes and nailed his low-end solos, and drummer Peart worked his way around his gigantic drum kit like only one of the most talented time-keepers can.

See Also:
Slideshow: Rush Rock the Xcel

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Death Cab for Cutie Prove Vital as a Trio at Northrop

Categories: Concert Review

Photo By Mark N. Kartarik
Death Cab For Cutie
With the Antlers
Northrop Auditorium, Minneapolis
Saturday, May 2, 2015

You could assume that Ben Gibbard is Death Cab for Cutie's only indispensable member, but Saturday's Death Cab concert at Northrop Auditorium in Minneapolis showed that departed guitarist Chris Walla has left a six-string-sized hole in the group's stage show.

The indie heroes, newly a three-piece and on the road supporting this year's Kintsugi, brought along two touring musicians -- guitarist Dave Depper and pianist Zac Rae -- to fill the two roles Walla played in the band before exiting on good terms last summer. Sure, Depper had "Why You'd Want to Live Here" down note-for-note, and Rae played "Passenger Seat" beautifully. But it felt slightly awkward when frontman Gibbard wandered over to their side of the stage to jam out for a bar or two -- something he often did with Walla, the 17-year Death Cab veteran.

See Also:
Slideshow: Death Cab For Cutie Rocks Northrop

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Neko Case Slays Some Demons at The Fitzgerald

Categories: Concert Review
Photo by Youa Vang
Neko Case 
With Rodrigo Amarante
Fitzgerald Theater, St. Paul
Saturday, April 25, 2015

Neko Case never does things halfway. That includes opening her 20-song set at the Fitzgerald Theater on Saturday night with "Nearly Midnight, Honolulu," with the f-bomb laden track giving her fans a direct idea as to how this revealing performance was going to go. Case is the kind of powerful presence who can silence a room by merely opening her mouth to sing, and it was pin-drop quiet more than once during the evening.
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Sufjan Stevens Gets Epic and Emotional at Northrop

Categories: Concert Review

Photo By Tony Nelson
Sufjan Stevens
With Little Scream
Northrop Auditorium, Minneapolis
April 22, 2015

Occasionally, you go to a show and get completely blindsided by what unfolds in front of you. You expect a decent show with a few flourishes and quirks, maybe, but in the end what you've experienced can really only be described as epic--in the very accurate and not overused sense of that word.

Wednesday night at Northrop Auditorium, Sufjan Stevens and his band put on show so powerful that the fortunate fans in attendance will be talking about it for quite some time to come.

See Also:
Slideshow: Sufjan Stevens Wows Northrop

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There's Music, Too: Coachella Weekend Two Set Reviews

Photo by Timothy Norris
Some say the music is better at Coachella on weekend two. Acts have had time work out technical kinks and refine their set lists, and a crowd less thick with scenesters and industry types responds with greater enthusiasm, upping the energy level all over the polo fields. That certainly seemed to be the case for Lil B, who rebounded from a meandering, freestyle-heavy first weekend with a hits-filled second showing.

How did other acts fare on Coachella's second, hotter (literally -- temps hit 97) weekend? Here are reviews and recaps of some of the most noteworthy sets, from AC/DC, Azealia Banks, Axwell /\ Ingrosso and more.

See Also:
Coachella Weekend One Set Reviews
You're Never Too Old For Coachella

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Twin Shadow Outshone By Lightshow at First Avenue

Categories: Concert Review
Photo By Anna Gulbrandsen
Twin Shadow First Avenue, Minneapolis April 13, 2015

Sometimes a band gets a show off to a rough start simply because they've had an off day, or a missed note snowballs to become something a little worse. But sometimes that rough start is a harbinger of what's to come from the rest of the performance.

Monday night's Twin Shadow show at First Avenue proved to be firmly in the latter camp, unfortunately. While there were a few bright spots luminous enough to keep the show from going down in flames, overall, the set was lifeless and at points so meandering that it was difficult to discern what was going on.

See Also:
Twin Shadow Brings Sexy Back to Minneapolis

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Coachella Weekend One Set Reviews

Categories: Concert Review
Photo by Timothy Norris
FKA Twigs
Contrary to what you might have heard, Coachella is more than just a fashion parade for B-list celebrities and trust fund kids. It also still features music! Here are reviews and recaps of some of the first weekend's most memorable sets, from Jack White, Run the Jewels, FKA Twigs, Steely Dan, Tame Impala and more.

See Also:
Slideshow: Hot Festival Fashion at Coachella

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