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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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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