Pearl Jam at Xcel Energy Center, 10/19/14

Categories: Last Night
Photo by Tony Nelson

Pearl Jam
Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul
Sunday, October 19, 2014

Pearl Jam shows have been sporting-event-level ginormous for much of their two-decade existence. The Seattle grunge survivors rock arenas and stadiums nightly to band-shirt-wearing, sign-toting crowds who tailgate, road-trip, message board about it, and repeat. These card-carrying Ten Club members were in Moline the other night when the guys played No Code all the way through -- undoubtedly spiritually, if not physically.

For more than 20 years, the group has nurtured their formidable base with sprawling, nostalgia-stoking shows to be cherished again and again via high-quality bootleg. Some folks have seen enough, but Sunday's Xcel hosted 18,000 strong for the band's first public Twin Cities concert in eight years. Whether or not they loved last year's Lightning Bolt, these were folks who were ready to pump their fists and play call-and-response with Eddie Vedder's falsetto like the "manly men from Minnesota" that they were. "Does it help to grab your balls?" he asked them, only half-joking.

See also:
Slideshow: Pearl Jam Rock the Xcel

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Ani DiFranco at First Avenue, 10/18/14

Categories: Last Night
Photo by Youa Vang

Ani DiFranco
with Jenny Scheinman
First Avenue, Minneapolis
Saturday, October 18, 2014

Saturday night, singer-songwriter Ani DiFranco joked about the friendly service she got from the staff the first time she played at First Avenue. "That's Minnesota for you -- being nice without having to be," she quipped.

Between her quick-witted banter, the 44-year-old connected old material with new songs. All the while, her portrait of artistic integrity was simultaneously fierce and tender.

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Iggy Azalea at TCF Bank Stadium, 10/17/14

Categories: Last Night
Photo by Tony Nelson

Iggy Azalea
with Walk the Moon
TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis
Friday, October 17, 2014

One strange thing about an Iggy Azalea concert is that while it pulls from hip-hop, it also skips blithely past it. The Australian rap sensation puts on what is essentially a pop concert, grabbing genre tropes to toy with along the way. 

There's levels to this shit, and the University of Minnesota students celebrating homecoming at TCF Bank Stadium was a wholly different subset of ticket-buyers than Azalea's last Minneapolis appearance. Two years ago, she performed alongside local female rap acts like BdotCroc, the Lioness, and the Chalice ('member them?) at the Fine Line. The key to making such a huge venue jump is the level of pop leanings and radio presence to keep mega-hit "Fancy" atop the Billboard Hot 100 longer than any female rapper in history. These necessary components are rarities among rap acts -- period.

See also:
Slideshow: Iggy Azalea Wows at the U of M's Homecoming Concert

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Ryan Adams at Northrop Auditorium, 10/13/14

Categories: Last Night
Photo by Julia Brokaw

Ryan Adams
Northrop Auditorium, Minneapolis
Monday, October 13, 2014

Here's how Ryan Adams beat back a case of the Mondays in Minneapolis. He retreated to his man cave, cracked open a ginger ale, plugged in a Strat he'd just bought, and played a few songs with some buddies.

This Adams-curated scene was only contradicted by a few thousand people spread into three packed balconies, lights approximating a classic-rock planetarium show, and the glow of vintage arcade games onstage. Besides those oh-so-minor accoutrements -- plus the untrue assertions that there'd be no professionalism in store -- it was anyone's low-key start to the work week.

Spanning his decade-plus solo career, Adams mostly chose material that matched the gray skies of the day and the falling autumn leaves. Occasionally, he cranked the amps too.

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Zombie Pub Crawl, 10/11/14

Categories: Last Night
Mike Madison
Tickle Torture at the Zombie Pub Crawl

Zombie Pub Crawl
Downtown Minneapolis
Saturday, October 11, 2014

In the decade since its inception, Minneapolis's Zombie Pub Crawl has grown from a relatively small gathering of zombie-loving members of the local subculture to a Guinness World Record-breaking crowd of revelers dressed to the nines in the macabre, occupying blocks of downtown for an all-out music festival complete with Juicy J and Steve Aoki.

This past Saturday, at least 15,458 members of the undead were declared "the largest gathering of people dressed as zombies," according to the Guinness record. According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, more than 30,000 were in attendance for the event as a whole.

Entering the event was an event in itself. Chaos had seized downtown, and police barricades outlined a throng of blood-spattered fans as the crowd pushed forward up First Avenue toward the giant outdoor stage set up in the parking lot next to the Hennepin Avenue/Warehouse District light rail stop. The sound of thundering bass mingled with police sirens and the wails of the undead. Food trucks were jammed next to the curbs, and the scent of cheese curds combined with beer and the usual intriguing smells of downtown. Rows of police officers stood, assuring that the outbreak would remain contained.

See also:
Zombie Pub Crawl 2014: The Epic Undead

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Pixies at State Theatre, 10/11/14

Categories: Last Night
Photo by Alex Rice

The Pixies
State Theatre, Minneapolis
Saturday, October 11, 2014

Way back in 2004, the Pixies chose Minneapolis's Fine Line Music Cafe as the spot to open their first tour in 12 years. As documented in the excellent loudQUIETloud: A Film About the Pixies, Twin Cities music fans (well, the lucky few who were able to squeeze into the 775-capacity club) got to witness the reunited alt-rock heroes being born again.

At that point in the story, the band showed up to play a collection of their most-loved songs to an adoring audience. This was before drummer David Lovering's father passed away, before the rest of the band worried about his subsequent substance abuse issues, and before everyone fell back into bad habits. The four musicians who inspired Kurt Cobain to write "Smells Like Teen Spirit" were simply back together. Everything had that new smell, like a Doolittle vinyl reissue fresh out of its packaging.

Conversely, Lovering, singer/guitarist Black Francis, guitarist Joey Santiago, and touring bassist Paz Lenchantin visited Minneapolis again Saturday night -- only this time the record was headed back into its sleeve. The Pixies' sold-out show at the State Theatre was the second-to-last date on the final leg of a year-long world tour (133 concerts in 41 countries) in support of this year's Indie Cindy album. Whereas a decade ago Minneapolis was treated to a "We'll see if this works" approach, Saturday's gig was more "We know this works."

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Banks at First Avenue, 10/8/14

Categories: Last Night

Mirror selfy for you Minneapolis.

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First Avenue, Minneapolis
Wednesday, October 8, 2014

When Banks took the stage last night, her sway over some parts of the audience was immediately apparent. Her opening songs were intershot with cheers of appreciation for almost every small or large vocal or physical flourish she did. It was clear from the jump that she was carrying a lot of star power, but it would remain to be seen if she had the performance chops to back it up.

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Godsmack at Target Center, 10/5/14

Categories: Last Night
Photo by Mike Madison
with Seether and Within Reason
Target Center, Minneapolis
Sunday, October 5, 2014

Godsmack's latest record, 1000hp, broke a three-year streak of number-one albums, hitting the number-three spot on the BIllboard charts this past August. Their now four-times platinum self-titled debut led with singles about getting away from them and keeping away from them, respectively. Amid the fungible nu-metal infecting 93X airwaves, the Boston band's workmanlike hard rock stood out by aligning itself more with traditional approaches to heavy metal.

See also:
Slideshow: Godsmack Rock the Target Center

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Smokey Robinson at Mystic Lake, 10/4/14

Categories: Last Night
Publicity Photo

Smokey Robinson
Mystic Lake Casino, Prior Lake
Saturday, October 4, 2014

To say the packed house at Mystic Lake Saturday night was eager and ready would be a bit of an understatement. While the hum of amplifiers and the faint sound of the musicians plugging in inspired yelps and calls to "Come on, baby! Let's get this going, honey!" Smokey Robinson already had his fans in the palm of his hand long before the curtains opened.

When the room darkened, a well-dressed band -- all in white -- sparked a funky rhythm as two gorgeous female dancers warmed things up and got the party rolling. The band moved the pace a bit into a familiar groove and the audience roared when a faint cooing drifted out from the speakers. Under the spotlight, Robinson effortlessly strutted his stuff toward the front with the audience already under his spell.

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Agent Orange at 7th St. Entry, 10/2/14

Categories: Last Night
Zach McCormick

Agent Orange
with The Architects
7th St. Entry, Minneapolis
Thursday, October 2, 2014

On paper, it's tough to make a case for groups like Agent Orange continuing to bang it out on tour in 2014. Their first record, Living in Darkness, was a seminal touchstone for '80s punk, inadvertently mapping out a sub-genre for skaters and surfers within the Southern California hardcore scene that wouldn't really see its heyday until a decade later. Since those salad days of yore, they've only released two proper albums, each a decade apart, and a fingerfull of live compilations, singles, and re-releases. Hell, they were starting to look a little long in the tooth in the '90s.

So what compels these men, at the cusp of their 50s, to continue playing these songs? The answer is the same as it's always been: Agent Orange is doing it for the kids, even if those kids have kids of their own these days.

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