The Hold Steady at Minnesota Zoo, 7/5/14

Categories: Concert Review

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

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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John Legend at State Theatre, 11/19/13

Categories: Concert Review
Photo by Steve Cohen

John Legend
with Tamar Braxton
State Theatre, Minneapolis
Tuesday, November 19, 2013

John Legend wooed the audience with his sultry performance at Tuesday night's show at the State Theatre. The man is charming, and even though he may have been stealing hearts in one respect, it seemed to be a show primarily for couples. Every day is Valentine's Day in Legend's world.

See Also: Slideshow: John Legend at State Theatre, 11/19/13

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CocoRosie at The Cedar Cultural Center, 10/19/13

Categories: Concert Review
Photo by J.M. Ruellan
CocoRosie The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis Saturday, October 19, 2013

Sierra and Bianca Casady, aka CocoRosie, have made a name for themselves by being eccentric and experimental artists. From feminist expression to the starkly juxtaposed layers of their vocal performances, it's a challenge to describe their work in comparison to other musicians today.

Saturday's show featured intricate theatrics that felt more like performance art than a purely musical endeavor. The stage was backed with a clothesline adorned with different garments and an old vanity and mirror -- their exposed dressing room for the many costume and makeup changes throughout the show. The single hair roller in Sierra's bangs set the tone for this bizarre display of what felt like two sisters playing dress up in an alternative, circus-like world.

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Ke$ha at Myth, 8/19/13

Categories: Concert Review
Photo by Tony Nelson

with Mike Posner and Semi Precious Weapons
Myth Live Event Center, St. Paul
August 19, 2013

If the will call line is held up by security inspecting a glitter container to ensure it's not drugs, a grown man is prancing around in gold spandex pants, and the floor becomes a minefield of spilled drinks, you know you're at a Ke$ha show.

Last night at Myth, Ke$ha (Kesha Rose Serbert) hit the stage to greet a rowdy, highly enthused crowd. The show was over the top with explosive visual entertainment and energy, which was anticipated after seeing the three semi trucks outside for lighting and production and the five tour buses for the band and crew.

See Also:
Slideshow: Ke$ha at Myth, 8/19/13

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Ke$ha, Myth

Brian Wilson at Minnesota Zoo Amphitheater, 7/27/13

Categories: Concert Review
Photo by Tony Nelson

Brian Wilson with Al Jardine and David Marks
Weesner Family Amphitheater, Apple Valley
Saturday, July 27, 2013

Saturday's Brian Wilson show at the Minnesota Zoo's Weesner Family Amphitheater was said to take place rain or shine. Shine might've been too much to ask for, considering the persistent precipitation in recent weeks, but the mild sprinkling and mist consuming the outdoor space, slightly visible on the pond's surface behind the stage, made for a peaceful acoustic environment suitable for a sit-down show amongst the trees.

See Also:
Slideshow: Brian Wilson at MN Zoo Amphitheater

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Kenny Chesney at Target Field, 7/12/13

Categories: Concert Review
Photo by Mitch Schwanke

Kenny Chesney
Target Field, Minneapolis
July 12, 2013

Kenny Chesney sings songs about fun that aren't much fun. Even with thudding arena drums insisting that something exciting must be happening somewhere, Chesney's boozy, sun-dazed escapism lacks any reckless spark or clever wit, coming across less laid-back than sedate -- just the thing if you're embarrassed by the trashy tastelessness of your parents' Jimmy Buffett records. Whether the past experiences for which he's waxing nostalgic are frat parties or love affairs, Chesney is almost always sure the best times are behind us, a thesis that his nearly two-hour performance at Target Field supported all too well on Friday night.

Of course 43,940 people would disagree with that. That's a new Target Field attendance record, and a slight uptick from the 43,897 folks who paid to see Chesney in the same venue last summer. Those numbers shouldn't surprise you: In his low-key way, Chesney has come to dominate country music over the past decade. Even if you subtract the chaperoning moms and bored boyfriends from Friday's totals, a Kenny Chesney concert is clearly many people's idea of a good time.

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Vieux Farka Touré at Cedar, 7/9/13

Categories: Concert Review
Photo by Tony Nelson

Vieux Farka Touré
Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis
Tuesday, July 9, 2013

We were not dancing enough. That appeared to be Vieux Farka Touré's chief concern between songs. If the Malian guitar hero's heavily accented English made it hard for him to explicitly tell us to move more, his amused yet insistent gesticulations unmistakably got the point across.

As constitutionally reserved Midwestern audiences go, the Cedar's are pretty game to experiment with what might happen to their bodies if given over to less familiar music; the Tuesday night crowd did in fact loosen up over time. And in our defense, the nuanced clickety-clack of Touré's calabash player, though infectious, was not designed to move Western feet as insistently as the funk-indebted Afrobeat of Femi Kuti or the uptempo grooves of Amadou and Mariam, to choose two recent shows in the Cedar's "African Summer" series. Vocally and instrumentally structured as a call and response, the music tended toward the sort of hypnotic repetition that invites you to sway rather than get down.

See Also:
Slideshow: Vieux Farka Touré at the Cedar

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Counting Crows at Myth, 7/9/13

Categories: Concert Review
Photos by Nicole Oran

Counting Crows with The Wallflowers
Myth, St. Paul
Tuesday, July 9, 2013

On Tuesday night, Counting Crows set started with the lights low and Bill Withers' "Lean on Me" playing as the crowd sang along in anticipation for the emergence of Adam Duritz's unmistakable, voluminous locks to enter from the side of the stage. A classic sing-in-unison song was an optimal way to unite the fans from the get-go and prepare them for what would be a night of collective nostalgia and celebration of a band's long-lasting career.

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Marilyn Manson at Myth, 7/2/13

Photo courtesy of the artist
Marilyn Manson
Myth, St. Paul
Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Security held down the large black curtains as fans eagerly await their haunting hero. Suddenly the room went dark. Operatic waltz music began to play over the speakers. A tall, menacing shadow appeared with a mic stand outstretched in one of his gangly limbs. The curtain dropped Kabuki-style to reveal a masked Marilyn Manson, leather and chain-clad, emerging from a thick cloud of smog.

See Also:
Marilyn Manson at Myth, 5/18/12

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