Julian Casablancas + the Voidz at First Avenue, 11/17/14

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Julian Casablancas + the Voidz
First Avenue, Minneapolis
Monday, November 17, 2014

If Julian Casablancas wanted to take the easy route, he would just headline festivals with the band that made him famous.

It also would have been easier for the 36-year-old singer to follow up his first solo album with more danceable synth pop, rather than the abrasive noise rock of this year's Tyranny. He then could have built a tour around Strokes hits plus his more-accessible solo material and let everyone in the crowd go home happy. See where this is going?

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Slowdive at Fine Line Music Cafe, 10/31/14

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Photo by Mark N Kartarik

Slowdive
Fine Line Music Cafe, Minneapolis
Friday, October 31, 2014

Seeing on the internet that English shoegaze act Slowdive had sold out downtown Minneapolis's Fine Line Music Cafe restored my faith in humanity. Sure, the Fine Line only holds around 800 people, but the fact that a niche band that only existed for half a decade is still able to tour the U.S. in a bus and not hemorrhage hundred-dollar bills is enough to make a guy want to grow his hair into a bowl cut and spend a whole paycheck on effects pedals.

See also:
Slideshow: Slowdive and Low Rock the Fine Line on Halloween


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The Pizza Underground at First Avenue, 11/1/14

Categories: Concert Review
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Photo via @cheesedayz
Pizza Underground did not allow professional photography at First Avenue.

The Pizza Underground
with Ripper, Toby Goodshank, and Har Mar Superstar
First Avenue, Minneapolis
Saturday, November 1, 2014

"DO YOU GUYS LIKE PIZZA?!"

This was the obnoxious, self-answering question that began the Pizza Underground's set last Saturday at First Ave. It was posed by a camcorder-wielding man dressed as Andy Warhol, and it was of course answered with a series of whoops from the crowd. Everyone likes pizza, but not everyone likes the Pizza Underground.

You need a voracious appetite for irony to appreciate a live performance from Macaulay Culkin's 'za-obsessed Velvet Underground cover band -- their delirious vaudeville variety show is a trippy, infectious blend of New York uber-chic and schoolyard mockery -- to the point where you can't reasonably be sure it's a joke anymore. Trying to understand the whole circus is an exercise in futility. If one thing was clear, it was that the Pizza Underground are antagonists of folks who value good sense.

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Ed Sheeran at Target Center, 9/15/14

Categories: Concert Review
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Photo by Youa Vang

Ed Sheeran
with Rudimental
Target Center, Minneapolis
Monday, September 15, 2014

Justin Bieber has his "Beliebers," One Direction have "1Dfamily," and Ed Sheeran has his "Sheerios." To a crowd mostly of Sheerios out too late on a school night, singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran and his "aw-shucks" personality took a walk onto the stage with just his acoustic guitar.

Let me explain: When you are a teenager, you are trying to figure out who you are. Ed's music, angsty songs about breakups and love songs, can fill a bedroom on a late night. Since he is a singer-songwriter who backs it up with an amazing voice, loops that can help fill the room, and an ability to beat-box at a rapid pace, the music has more of an edge than a lot of other options in the pop world.


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Emily's Army at Triple Rock Social Club, 9/8/14

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Photo by Brecht Vanthof

Emily's Army
With Charlie Siren and Let Yourself Go
Triple Rock Social Club, Minneapolis
Monday, September 8, 2014

Hearing Emily's Army's music in short bursts doesn't tell the full story. The surf rock and pop-punk trio hit Minneapolis for the first time to a crowd that was smaller than it should've been -- even on a Monday night.

Made up of singer/bassist Max Becker, brother Cole on vocals and guitar, and Joey Armstrong on drums their songs dip into the history of punk with a heavy dose of California sun. Within their bass-dominated songs featuring guitars with low end-fuzz, you can hear Wavves, the Ramones, and Joey's dad's band, Green Day. Sure, these guys are young, but they came ready to win over any doubters in attendance.


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Katy Perry at Target Center, 8/22/14

Categories: Concert Review
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Mike Madison

Katy Perry
Target Center, Minneapolis
Friday, August 22, 2014

Katy Perry's hair blew in the wind. Her extravagant ball gown billowed, revealing royal blue leggings -- reminiscent of what a modern Marie Antoinette would wear if she were throwing a fireworks-themed fete. Fireworks lit up the pyramid-shaped screen behind Perry... and more importantly, real ones went off onstage as the pop star belted out her special-snowflake/self-empowerment ballad ("Firework," duh) during her last encore. It was incredible.

These fireworks were some of the coolest closers to a concert we've seen, but there were plenty of other spectacles to behold for the two hours Perry graced the stage. Perry brought her A-game to Minneapolis at the Target Center, with a healthy mix of throwbacks and new material to keep a sold-out crowd of 15,000 KatyCats singing along.

See also:
Katy Perry dances with an alien at Skateville in Burnsville


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Echo & the Bunnymen at First Avenue, 8/9/14

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Photo by Tony Nelson
Echo & the Bunnymen
with John Swardson
First Avenue, Minneapolis
Saturday, August 9, 2014

Saturday night at First Avenue, Echo & the Bunnymen made what could have been a fantastic, flawless pass through town, but bogged it down. There were a couple of strange passages and two Doors cover songs. One of them made a little bit of sense, but the other felt tacked on and outright terrible. The night was a whiplash-inducing rollercoaster to say the least. It was filled with highs, but the lows were almost low enough to cause pressure sickness.

See also:
Slideshow: Echo & the Bunnymen at First Ave

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Jenny Lewis at First Avenue, 8/3/14

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Photo by Youa Vang
Jenny Lewis
with Apache Relay
First Avenue, Minneapolis
Sunday, August 3, 2014


Jenny Lewis has provided the sound to so many projects over the past 15 years in many other bands. On Sunday night she was back in Minneapolis to show that she has enough charm to carry a night heavy with anticipation on her tiny shoulders -- weird bathrobe and all.
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The Hold Steady at Minnesota Zoo, 7/5/14

Categories: Concert Review

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Erik Hess
The Hold Steady
With Cheap Girls
Minnesota Zoo Amphitheater, Apple Valley
Saturday, July 5, 2014

Now 10-plus years and six albums deep into their career as group, the Hold Steady are still a vital rock 'n' roll force, albeit one that's starting to contemplate its own legacy. In their motherland of Minnesota, Craig Finn and company will probably be remembered as one of the greatest local bands that's not actually a local band. While their strident return to form on the new LP Teeth Dreams certainly contains a few more lyrical references to the band's adoptive home of New York City, Finn's songwriting talents seem inexorably tied to the Twin Cities, where he spent most of his youth.

As a result, the Hold Steady's yearly summer concert here seems almost more like a vacation than a normal leg of a professional tour. The guys who are from here visit family, maybe go see a baseball game, and then get up onstage and rock out for a crowd full of old friends. In some shows past, it's seemed like that familiarity let the group lower the bar for entertainment, but that was emphatically not the case Saturday night. Credit the new record, new member, or new setting (in a zoo), but the Hold Steady sounded re-energized.

See also:
Slideshow: The Hold Steady rock the Minnesota Zoo

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Dillinger 4th of July at Triple Rock, 7/4/14

Categories: Concert Review

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Erik Hess
Dillinger 4th of July
With Dillinger 4, Masked Intruder, the Brokedowns, Canadian Rifle, and Direct Hit!
Triple Rock Social Club, Minneapolis
Friday, July 4, 2014

Independence Day is a time to reflect on the reasons we love this great nation of ours so much. A time to celebrate the freedoms we Americans often take for granted, and a time to remember the sacrifices of those who have fallen to protect them. It's about Old Glory, family, baseball, and apple pie.

Screw it, who am I kidding? The 4th of July is an excuse for Dillinger Four to throw the best holiday punk show of the summer and invite us all down to the Triple Rock to party. God bless America.

See also:
Slideshow: D4th of July at the Triple Rock

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