GWAR at Skyway Theatre, 11/20/14

Categories: Last Night
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Photo by Mark N. Kartarik
GWAR forever.
GWAR
Skyway Theatre, Minneapolis
Thursday, November 20, 2014


Earlier this year, GWAR -- the intergalactically renowned metal band made up of alien warriors -- appeared on the A.V. Club's A.V. Undercover video series at an emotional time. GWAR had recently been rocked by the overdose of founding member Oderus Urungus (a.k.a. Dave Brockie). 

After their obligatory performance of the Pet Shop Boys' "West End Girls," GWAR launched into a reinterpretation of Jim Carroll's "People Who Died." They concluded with a verse from replacement frontman Blothar, dedicated to his fallen friend -- "Brockie I miss you more than all the others / I salute you my brother!" A.V. Club's Josh Modell said it best -- "I never thought I'd say to GWAR: that was kind of touching." Drummer Jizmak Da Gushha, taken aback, replied indignantly -- "Who touched who where?"

The A.V. Undercover clip sums up GWAR in 2014 in a nutshell. They're a little sad, a little serious, but still stupid, crass, and absolutely committed to doing what they do best -- rocking out and spewing gallons of blood all over their fans. 

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Run the Jewels at Fine Line, 11/20/14

Categories: Last Night
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Photo by Adam Degross
El-P and Killer Mike
Run The Jewels
with Ratking, Despot, and David Ruffin Theory
Thursday, November 20, 2014

Run the Jewels, the region-spanning duo of Killer MIke and El-P, swung through the Fine Line Thursday night, putting on a top-tier performance that cemented their status as one of the most exciting acts in rap. Joined by openers Despot, Ratking, and David Ruffin Theory, the night was stacked with strong sets that satisfied the sold out room.

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Usher at Xcel Energy Center, 11/18/14

Categories: Last Night
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Photo by Mike Madison
This looks a lot better than it was.

Usher
Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul
Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The high points of Usher's poorly paced, unfocused performance at the Xcel Energy Center last night were two ballads -- "Climax" and "Burn" -- about lovers refusing to admit that a relationship has reached its natural end. In an arena that was less than half full, its 7,000 paying customers rarely loud enough to fill the dead air when the singer pointed his mic toward them, the songs' themes inadvertently suggested a dark commentary on the (former?) star's career.

Less dramatically, let's admit that Usher is at an awkward age: Hardly the dominant pop R&B figure of just a decade ago, he's not yet commercially irrelevant enough to admit he's an oldies act. Last night's set list reflected this confusion.

See also:
Slideshow: Usher Heats Up the Xcel Energy Center

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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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Mötley Crüe at Xcel Energy Center, 11/15/14

Categories: Last Night
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Photo by Tony Nelson
Mötley Crüe came back for the last time?

Mötley Crüe with Alice Cooper
Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul
Saturday, November 15

The best piece of theater in the Twin Cities Saturday night wasn't at the Guthrie, or in a theater at all. It was at Xcel Energy Center, as Mötley Crüe came through town on their last tour, closing out more than 30 years as a band.

It was a real goodbye -- the boys signed a contract and everything -- and they treated it with all the gravitas it deserved. They played the hits, and nothing but the hits, and it was bright and fast and loud. Even though it was everything that everyone in the audience expected, the Crüe worked in enough heart and power that it felt more like a homestretch sprint than a victory lap.

See also:
Slideshow: Mötley Crüe and Alice Cooper Rock the Xcel

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FKA twigs Entranced Both Fine Line and Paisley Park Audiences

Categories: Last Night
FKA_twigs_Adam_Degross.jpg
Photo by Adam Degross
FKA twigs brought it at Fine Line.

FKA twigs
with BOOTS
Fine Line Music Cafe, Minneapolis
Friday, November 14, 2014

FKA twigs performed two shows in the Twin Cities over the weekend. Her sold-out Fine Line appearance on Friday was followed by a surprise performance at Paisley Park with none other than Prince on Saturday. Turning in powerful and unforgettable sets each night, the London singer was astonishing in scope and execution, making for a weekend that will go down in local scene lore for years to come.

See also:
Slideshow: FKA Twigs Mesmerizes at the Fine Line

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B.o.B. at First Avenue, 11/10/14

Categories: Last Night
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Photo by Anna Gulbrandsen

B.o.B.
with Kevin Gates
First Avenue, Minneapolis
Monday, November 10, 2014

Atlanta rap star B.o.B brought his No Genre tour to First Avenue last night, bringing along his labelmates and Baton Rouge rapper Kevin Gates. An interesting combination of pop and gangsta rap, the pair put on a show to remember in front of an engaged crowd of fans.

See also:
Slideshow: B.o.B. Wows First Avenue

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Garth Brooks at Target Center, 11/6/14

Categories: Last Night
GarthBrooksTN100.jpg
Photo by Tony Nelson
Garth Brooks is back!

Garth Brooks
with Trisha Yearwood
Target Center, Minneapolis
Thursday, November 6, 2014

You might say Garth Brooks is a crowd-pleaser. You might also say Michael Jackson was a good dancer and Beatles songs are catchy.

Garth -- to call him "Brooks" is as fussy and mannered as referring to "Presley" -- has the sales figures to deserve mention alongside those other superduperstars, of course. But he's earned their company because he's channeled his drive to satisfy huge audiences into performances masterful enough to transform "crowd-pleasing" from a backhanded critic's compliment to a form of artistry in itself.

See Also:
Slideshow: Garth Brooks Rocks the Target Center


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Boyce Avenue at First Avenue, 11/5/14

Categories: Last Night
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Photo by Youa Vang
Boyce Avenue with Kris Allen and Curtis Peoples
First Avenue, Minneapolis
Wednesday, November 5, 2014


For an inoffensive concert experience that your mom can enjoy too, look no further than Boyce Avenue. The group is composed of three Manzano siblings: lead singer Alejandro, Daniel on bass, and Fabian playing guitar and handling backing vocals, along with touring drummer Jason Burrows.

The trio made it big via YouTube covers showcasing their amazing voices, especially Alejandro's melodic pitches. But those covers performed live felt tepid. It was like an evening of great singers at a karaoke bar, or a night on American Idol -- especially since season eight winner Kris Allen opened for them.

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The Stand4rd at Amsterdam, 11/1/14

Categories: Last Night
The_Stand4rd_Mike_Madison.jpg
Photo by Mike Madison
The Stand4rd
with DJ TIIIIIIIIIIP
Saturday, November 1, 2014

St. Paul supergroup the Stand4rd lived up to the hype during their debut performance at Amsterdam on Saturday evening. Spooky Black, Bobby Raps, Allan Kingdom, and Psymun performed collectively to a sold-out, all-ages crowd who cheered throughout the energetic stage show.

See also:
Slideshow: The Stand4rd Take Over Amsterdam Bar


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