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

Categories: Concert Review
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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.

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Slideshow: Brian Wilson at MN Zoo Amphitheater


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Kenny Chesney at Target Field, 7/12/13

Categories: Concert Review
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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
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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.

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Slideshow: Vieux Farka Touré at the Cedar


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Counting Crows at Myth, 7/9/13

Categories: Concert Review
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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

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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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Dessa at First Avenue, 6/29/13

Categories: Concert Review
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Photo by Erik Hess

Dessa
First Avenue, Minneapolis
Saturday, June 29, 2013

For her first headlining gig at First Avenue's Mainroom, Dessa held nothing back. She made it clear from the first moment the screen came up that it was going to be her night, as she stepped out onto the stage looking ready for war in svelte jeans, combat boots, and a military jacket, with her long hair pulled back into a tight braid.

Dessa launched immediately into "The Lamb," one of the most haunting, ominous tracks off her new album, Parts of Speech, revved up for the First Avenue set with some particularly fierce vocal harmonies by Aby Wolf.

Many of the songs in Dessa's two-hour set -- a smart blend of new and old material -- were given a new treatment for her First Avenue debut. For all that it's filled with ballads and subtle lyricism, Parts of Speech translates remarkably well to a high-energy hip-hop crowd. Doomtree beatmakers Paper Tiger and Lazerbeak stepped on and off stage throughout the night to fill in live production, and her longtime live band and backing vocalist Wolf remained with her for most of the evening.

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Slideshow: Dessa at First Avenue


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Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros at The Cabooze, 6/25/13

Categories: Concert Review
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Photos by Nicole Oran
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
With The Giving Tree Band
The Cabooze, Minneapolis
June 25, 2013

The crowd at last night's Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros show responded to singers Alex Ebert and Jade Castrinos like they were a celebrity couple. No one believes they aren't really in love. Not the people screaming in the front row, not the couples making out in the back, not the security guards. Not even me. It's fair to say many lovers last night heard "their song."


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Bombino at the Cedar, 6/11/13

Categories: Concert Review
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Photo by Erik Hess

Bombino
Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis
Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Americans have plenty of Tuareg desert blues to chose from these days. That sounds really weird, even in an age where we've grown accustomed to digital abundance glutting our most niche musical tastes. But following in the wake of northern Mali's guitar-wielding rebels Tinariwen, the music of the Sahara's ethnic Berber nomads has become the biggest world music trend of the past decade.

Even so, Omara Moctar stands out. The 33-year-old Niger-born guitarist, who performs under the single name Bombino, received an imprimatur from the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach, who produced his latest, most focused, and best-recorded album, Nomad, in Nashville. The raw edges of Saharan music are smoothed but not slickened; brittle tones are softened but their arid essence is preserved. He plays prettily, but he gets loud. Bombino clearly wants to lead a Tuareg rock band.

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Slideshow: Bombino at Cedar Cultural Center

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The Dandy Warhols at First Avenue, 6/9/13

Categories: Concert Review
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Photo courtesy of the artist

The Dandy Warhols
First Avenue, Minneapolis
Sunday June 9, 2013

Sometimes a veteran rock band will perform one of its old albums in concert, beginning to end. You know this happens. It's no longer a trend or phenomenon to be excited or annoyed by, it's just an inescapable fact of the 21st century live music experience, and it works better with some albums than others.

Maybe only the die-hardiest of Dandy Warhols fans consider the Portland band's 2000 breakthrough album, 13 Tales from Urban Bohemia, a bona fide classic -- if that sort of fancy classification matters to you. But it's for sure a solid collection of songs, and with its deliberate pacing, repeatedly building from dreamy to punchy before again tapering off, well-suited to the LP-as-concert format.


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Coolio at The Cabooze, 6/1/13

Categories: Concert Review
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Photo by Athena Feldshon

Coolio
With DJ Applejews, The Level Heads, Rob-1 and Anchormen
The Cabooze, Minneapolis
Saturday, June 1, 2012

It was definitely a "Back to the '90s Bash" as the DJ played songs like Rob Base and DJ E Z Rock's "It Takes Two" and De La Soul's, "Me, Myself And I" while the crowd anxiously awaited Coolio's arrival on stage. The hazy, smoke-filled venue was full of energy, the bartenders had their hands full, and a primarily running-man focused dance battle ensued at the front of the stage.

The 49-year-old rapper, who blew up big two decades ago, had the hits from his golden era ready to share -- as well as some TMI moments -- during Saturday's show at the Cabooze.

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Coolio at the Cabooze, 6/1/13

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