The death of the Belmore/New Skyway Lounge

Doug_Anderson_Chris_Strouth.jpg
Artwork by Chris Strouth

Makes No Sense At All captures the visions, ramblings, and memories of Chris Strouth, a Twin Cities-bred master of music, film, and everything else.

Last week the Twin Cities lost a club, the Belmore/New Skyway Lounge. It was the most recent entry from Minneapolis iconoclast and character Doug Anderson. Chances are pretty good that you didn't know it closed; chances are even better you didn't know it was open in the first place. The Belmore stood alone in the downtown club scene. It wasn't fancy; it had the stripped-down sensibilities that made it feel more like a New York neighborhood bar -- not the slickness that tends to dot the downtown landscape. No perfectly untucked shirts over jeans that cost more than a 40-hour week of minimum wage at this establishment.

The Belmore had a definitive curative style, and one that I may add was not for everyone. It was noisy and chaotic with an ear toward the guitar heroes of generations past: definitive for post-punk, guitar-noise rock. It was a temple for bands that loved Television, which makes sense given Richard Lloyd's residency there. It was home to cult acts from Curtiss A to Hugh Cromwell, and a lot of music that doesn't rate much more than a mention on the Current, but is the stuff of crate diggers' deepest fantasy baseball team.

More »

Lady Gaga, will you please put on some pants?

Lady_Gaga_Chris_Strouth.jpg
Artwork by Chris Strouth

Makes No Sense At All captures the visions, ramblings, and memories of Chris Strouth, a Twin Cities-bred master of music, film, and everything else.

When Lady Gaga first hit the scene, no one was indifferent about her. You either loved her or hated her, and usually to a large extreme. But now, as we as a culture have had to live with her for five or so years, she has gone from the elephant in the room that you can't help but notice, to the elephant in the room that you're not sure if you should keep around, mostly because it is such a hassle to dust it.

I started off liking Lady Gaga in a big way. She was big and goofy, sure stunningly derivative, but she was the first pop diva since Pink that was remotely interesting. Pink was a radical because of her confessional style, like Jewel only without the annoying cloying poetry and twee acoustic guitar and sincerity. Gaga was anything but sincere, her bit was more akin to Ally Sheedy's character in The Breakfast Club, doing whatever was going to grab our attention. And in a world of 24-hour news cycles, internet granny porn and hobo shock fights, not much is going to grab our attention long, unless it's really weird (like the Balloon Boy) or really messed up (Two Girls One Cup, The Kardashians) and lucky for Gaga she sort of filled all the checkboxes.

More »

Lou Reed embodied what becomes a legend most

Lou_Reed_Chris_Strouth.jpg
Artwork by Chris Strouth

Makes No Sense At All captures the visions, ramblings, and memories of Chris Strouth, a Twin Cities-bred master of music, film, and everything else.

We don't really use the word "legend" the way we should. It has fallen into the same misunderstood ghetto as "awesome," "literally," and "love." Next time someone says something like "I literally love this awesome hot dog, it's legendary," you have my permission to punch them in the groin -- figuratively, of course.

An actual legend in their respective field is for the myth bigger than the man. The stories, the fame, the work, and the public's reaction cast a shadow so long, it's like a castle keeping its citizens calm in its shade. Lou Reed is legend, his death leaves a huge leather jacket-shaped hole in the soul of cultures both popular and counter.

More »

Autumn is the peak season for the Smiths

Smiths_Chris_Strouth.jpg
Artwork by Chris Strouth

Makes No Sense At All captures the visions, ramblings, and memories of Chris Strouth, a Twin Cities-bred master of music, film, and everything else.

Symbolically, autumn is when things start to wind down before the big sleep of winter, and it's the metaphor for every standard about getting old. But to me October in particular is about life, youth, and a restart of life. It also makes me "timesick," aka homesick for a time that has passed. In a way, October is the cruelest of months, in part because I feel like I am living half of it in flashback.

All it takes is a grey day, crisp but not too cold, wet streets, and our dusty rose landscape gets the hue of a burnt-out Polaroid. The air seems to fill with just a hint of Clove and Aqua Net. If you want to really understand mid-'80s punk rock, light a clove cigarette and spray some Aqua Net. (Of course, not in that order unless you want nostalgia and some sort of toxic fireball.) It is the time for origin stories, and mine involves my internal cassette deck flipping to whatever Smiths song seems appropriate.


More »

In defense of 101.3 KDWB

Miley_Cyrus_Chris_Strouth.jpg
Artwork by Chris Strouth

Makes No Sense At All captures the visions, ramblings, and memories of Chris Strouth, a Twin Cities-bred master of music, film, and everything else.

Even though it's been the porn of a thousand pundits' wet dreams, radio isn't dead. No longer a lone wolf in the arbitration of cool, it now hunts in a pack with internet portals and Twitter critics. Radio might not be where talent gets its first exposure, but it is the place that will exploit it Gangnam Style. Radio is still a cool hunter, though. It exposes us to the unknown, or more directly, the unknown-yet-familiar. Then in turn decides when something is popular until it's not. That's essentially its job; well, that and selling advertising.

KDWB. Just at the mention of it, you can almost sense an eye roll from everyone with an MPR coffee mug and a Black Keys tour shirt. Tou know the one they got from the tour where they got really big. For those not from the Twin Cities, KDWB is the mainstream pop radio station here. It is to music snobs as Applebee's is to foodies. But I will confess to you here and now that KDWB is a station I listen to on a semi-regular basis.

See Also: KDWB Jingle Ball posts 2013 lineup


More »

Adam Ant proves I was born without the "fan gene"

Adam_Ant_Chris_Strouth.jpg
Artwork by Chris Strouth
Makes No Sense At All captures the visions, ramblings, and memories of Chris Strouth, a Twin Cities-bred master of music, film, and everything else.

I have waited for a very long time for an Adam Ant show that I can actually go to, and Sunday represents just that. I have written in these pixels before of my love of Adam Ant, and his strangely profound impact on my life. My inner 14-year-old is flipping out; however my current self is looking at more of the mixed cocktail of excitement and reticence normally reserved for school reunions or long family holidays.

There must be a gene sequence deep somewhere in the human DNA code that has to do with unquestioning love. It's a gene sequence that people who are obsessive music fans have. It's owned by the people who refer to David Bowie as a god and think of all of his records as amazing -- including Hours. Or those who dedicate a good deal of their life to the Vikings -- as if they can somehow love the team enough they won't choke like a cartoon fat man eating a pork chop.

There is the old joke about "When sex is good, it's really good. When it's bad, it's still pretty good." I don't find it to be true. I have had some pretty bad pizza, and, on the rare occasion, bad sex. (Of course, that was always the other person's fault, but still it's out there.) The point is that my genetic code is missing the essential ingredient of what it takes to be a "fan."

More »

MN State Fair: A deep-fried look at 2013's Grandstand music

State_Fair_Chris_Strouth.jpeg
Artwork by Chris Strouth

Makes No Sense At All captures the visions, ramblings, and memories of Chris Strouth, a Twin Cities-bred master of music, film, and everything else.

The world is divided into three camps at the moment. There are those overwhelmed that the Replacements are playing their first show since the Bush era, folks who can't stop talking about the MN State Fair, and the third group are the people who don't live in Minnesota. Regarding the 'Mats, my money is on a Three Stooges-style pie fight followed by the shocking revelation that Paul Westerberg is in fact the love child of Alex Chilton and Judy Garland. Now that we've settled that, let's talk about the Great Minnesota Get-Together, a.k.a. the great Minnesota Cultural Equalizer.

The State Fair is the one place the whole state comes together with the common goal of eating fried food on a stick. Whether you're a governor, a mayor, a local rock 'n' roll icon, a farmer, or an aspiring juggalo, you can take some small comfort in that you're all going to go home with a stomach on the verge of being queasy. It's like a class reunion, but with life -- and a bit like Costco that way. You can run into your high school drama teacher, the bully from eighth grade, and any number of local drummers. Somehow you're never asking yourself why Garrison Keillor is buying a 50-pound tub of Gorgonzola cheese, instead you just wonder "Where did he get that three-foot-deep fried cream puff on a stick?"

Of course another big draw is the scattered State Fair music offerings, with a lot of folks getting excited about the big Grandstand shows. Most notably, Depeche Mode with Bat for Lashes. At $60 on top of the fair's $12 admission, it's one of the priciest shows of the season. Is it just me, or is this just kind of weird?

See Also:
MN State Fair 2013 Grandstand lineup & schedule
MN State Fair 2013 free stages: Sheila E., Chastity Brown, and more


More »

An argument for Grant Hart's The Argument

Grant_Hart_Chris_Strouth.jpg
Artwork by Chris Strouth; based upon a tintype by Andrew Moxom

Makes No Sense At All captures the visions, ramblings, and memories of Chris Strouth, a Twin Cities-bred master of music, film, and everything else.

Concept records get a bad rap, a really bad rap. I blame it on Yes. On paper, something that mixes 17th-century blank verse and the crown prince of the beats seems like it could easily go awry. Impressively, Grant Hart's latest opus of an album, The Argument, doesn't. It feels more like a postmodern opera, creating a universe unto itself with specific rules that control the proceedings. Such idiosyncratic rules make things like Genesis, Björk, and Sigur Rós, work and also make them hell to put on a mixtape.

As the drummer/vocalist in Hüsker Dü, Hart, as well as guitarist/vocalist Bob Mould and bassist Greg Norton, has already earned his place in the Cooperstown of Punk -- which will never actually exist because the bathrooms would be a total liability. And if you don't know Hüsker, then you have made me very sad, and you have made a baby unicorn cry, so way to go. But even considering all of that, on this complex new record The Argument he sets a bar so high that Godzilla could easily limbo underneath it.

See Also:
Hüsker Dü's Grant Hart gets the documentary treatment

More »

The great Minnesota road trip mix

MN_Road_Tripping.jpeg
Artwork by Chris Strouth

Makes No Sense At All captures the visions, ramblings, and memories of Chris Strouth, a Twin Cities-bred master of music, film, and everything else.

It's summer. If you're anything like me, you're becoming obsessed with the great outdoors, barbecuing, watching baseball, complaining about baseball, and the true Minnesotan sport: road-tripping.

There are so many amazing destinations in the state and nearby that are worth visiting -- whether it's the musty glory that is (possibly) the world's biggest ball of twine, the giant Paul Bunyan, numerous Babe the Blue Oxes, or even an outdoor music festival somewhere, the destination isn't as important as the soundtrack. To that end, oh dear and gentle reader, I provide you with the most kick-ass Minnesota classic mix tape ever. Well, at least this week.


More »

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark are even better than you think they are

OMD_Chris_Strouth.JPG
Artwork by Chris Strouth

Makes No Sense At All captures the visions, ramblings, and memories of Chris Strouth, a Twin Cities-bred master of music, film, and everything else.

There aren't a lot of bands like Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. There is something incredibly singular about them in every aspect of their work. To the casual listener, they are the soundtrack of every Gen-Xer who was a little crushed when Andi walked away from Duckie and into the arms of Blayne to the sounds of "If You Leave" at the end of Pretty in Pink. (For what its worth I am pretty sure that Blayne would have eventually worked for Enron and done jail time.) That moment aside, from the release of their first record -- the self-titled Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark -- the group has cut a lonely path through pop music.

Full disclosure: I really like OMD. I wouldn't call myself a fan, but I own all of their records. Plus, I have seen all their shows in Minneapolis. The fact that there have only been two makes that a little easier -- and the cancellation of this week's show at the Varsity keeps it at that number for the foreseeable future. But given that the first one was 1988 and the second was 2011 makes it a little more impressive. With some help from a conversation Gimme Noise had with lead vocalist and co-founder Andy McCluskey, we might make an OMD fan out of you.

More »

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...