Dessa at First Avenue, 6/29/13

Categories: Concert Review
Photo by Erik Hess

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.

See Also:
Slideshow: Dessa at First Avenue

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

Categories: Concert Review
edward sharpe 2
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
Photo by Erik Hess

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.

See Also:
Slideshow: Bombino at Cedar Cultural Center

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

Categories: Concert Review
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
Photo by Athena Feldshon

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.

See Also:
Coolio at the Cabooze, 6/1/13

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Nicholas David at First Avenue, 5/10/13

Categories: Concert Review
Seeing Nicholas David live isn't like watching the man on television. It's infinitely better.

Anyone who followed season three of The Voice can attest to David's astounding showmanship. The tall, bearded, "family man from Minnesota" captivated audiences around the country with his uniquely soulful renditions of classic tunes week after week until he placed third in the competition.

The first sold-out show of a two-night stint at First Avenue was packed to the brim, with hardly any space to move around both upstairs and on the main floor even while David's opener, DJ Heatbox, warmed up the stage, which was filled with plants and prayer flags, Buddha statues and incense. A few minutes before 10 p.m., clad in a gray fedora, brown suit jacket, vest, and orange pants, Nicholas David emerged onstage to whoops and hollers, before bowing at the audience and launching into his first song.

See also:
Nicholas David on life after The Voice and selling out First Avenue
Nicholas David's final performances on The Voice (VIDEOS)

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JD McPherson wows at First Avenue, 5/4/13

Categories: Concert Review

Photo by Samantha Franklin
JD McPherson with the Cactus Blossoms
First Avenue Mainroom, Minneapolis
May 4, 2013

Forget what you think you know about rock 'n' roll. Until you've seen JD McPherson play, you don't know the genre. McPherson is modern music's unequivocal leader in rock 'n' roll revivalism, and on Saturday night at First Avenue, he proved to all of Minneapolis why that was.

McPherson, dressed in his trademark denim jacket with his hair slicked back just so, burst onto the stage with enough energy to power the lights in the mainroom, and he played his guitar with a furious flourish. The band--also similarly uniformed--opened with the infectious rockabilly-style tune "Firebug," and it was just all uphill from there. With McPherson's music partner and producer, Jimmy Sutton, on upright bass, the band commanded the stage as though it might be their last performance ever.

See also:
JD McPherson releases Christmas single "Twinkle (Little Christmas Lights)"

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Har Mar Superstar returns to the Turf Club, 5/4/13

Categories: Concert Review

Erik Hess
Har Mar Superstar
Turf Club, St. Paul
Saturday, May 4, 2013

Sean Tillman may not live in Minnesota anymore, but he still knows it's important to dress in layers.

Tillman's sex-symbol-by-fiat alter ego Har Mar Superstar took the Turf Club stage after midnight draped in a black hood and some sort of matching African-print mumu deal, under which he wore a lightweight suit and, we later learned, a black sleeveless t-shirt. When he left more than an hour later, he was shirtless, his proud girth glistening in the stage lights.

And yet, in a defiant act of artistic maturity, he left his pants on.

See also:
[Slideshow] Har Mar Superstar returns to the Turf Club, 5/4/13
Har Mar Superstar's star turn

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Purity Ring at First Avenue, 5/2/13

Categories: Concert Review

Anna Gulbrandsen
Purity Ring with Blue Hawaii
First Avenue, Minneapolis
May 2, 2013

Purity Ring is all about atmosphere. Whether it's onstage or on their insanely popular debut album, Shrines, the Edmonton-based band paints a picture that sticks in your brain long after you're done listening.

See also:
[Slideshow] Purity Ring at First Avenue, 5/2/13
Purity Ring at First Avenue, 9/14/12

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DJ Shadow at Mill City Nights, 5/2/13

Categories: Concert Review

Daniel Corrigan
All things being equal, DJ Shadow is better as his job than you are at yours. Thursday at Mill City Nights, the former Joshua Davis drove that point home tenfold with a 90-minute set of songs that were largely unrecognizable to the vast majority of the crowd, but held everyone rapt for the duration despite it.

See also:
DJ Shadow at First Avenue, 7/17/11
DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist at First Avenue

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