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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Wainright siblings, Rogers Sisters and a Brendan Benson

The Rogers Sisters - Publicity Photo

Somehow, I managed to get up at 6:30 a.m. today despite a late night. I fly off to Copehagen in a matter of hours, and don't plan to return to London until the second weekend of July (unless, on the very, very outside chance I end up on Madonna's guestlist for the Hyde Park installment of the Live8 festival on Saturday, in which case I might just have to swim the North Sea.)

Yesterday was another mish-mash of music. After a successful afternoon of shopping in Camden Lock Market, it was time to head back to the Wireless Festival. Despite arriving rather late, I managed to do quite well for myself in terms of sheer quantity of music experienced.

I caught the tail-end (last bit of the last song) by Brendan Benson, who I was surprised to find rocking people's socks off in the XFM tent. (I made a note to catch his full set in Ireland next weekend.) Supergrass seemed to do a fair to middling job on the mainstage, but despite a few shivers going up my spine as the broke into "Moving" they didn't draw me in.

Next I headed to the Dis stage to catch a bit of Martha Wainright (seeing as I'd arrived to late to see her brother earlier.) "Did you see Rufus," she asked between songs, and the crowd responded with a hearty cheer. Moments later, dressed in a red athletic jacket Rufus Wainright appeared at her side to accompany her on the next song.

Skipping Wednesday's festival headliners, Keane (I've seen them twice and reviewed them for this very site -- I was suprised as I left to see and hear otherwise rough-looking English lads saying to each other, "Hurry up now, they go on in 1 minute!")

I was able to make it to Tottenham Court Tube Station, and the short walk up Oxford Street to the 100 Club (downstairs at 100 Oxford Street) to see the Rogers Sisters and meet up with music hound Andrew Zincke and his friend Phil from Beggars Group. The legendary 100 Club, which was originally opened as a restaurant called Macks in 1942, claims to be "the most celebrated live music venue in Europe and one of the most famous in the world." It has seen acts as diverse as The Sex Pistols, Muddy Waters, Oasis, Travis, The Clash,The White Stripes, and more.

On this night, with far superior sound to what they had at the Wireless Festival Friday, the New York-based Rogers Sisters (who are on Beggars Group's Too Pure label) won me over with their energetic and retro sounding rock. It's not fair to label a band by their covers, but in addition to their catchy originals, it was a joy to see the lovely Jennifer Rogers sing "Object" by The Cure.

The band is comprised of Jennifer Rogers on guitar and vocals, sister Laura on drums and backup vocals, and the sole male in the group, Miyuki Furtado plays bass and provides punchy and raw lead vocals himself on many tracks.)

At an after party in Soho I had the chance to have a few drinks with Furtado, who after admiring my glasses (clear plastic Gucci, 2004) gave me tips on where to buy hip eyewear in Brooklyn, and told me he loves Minneapolis, the 7th Street Entry in particular. Rogers Sisters' tour dates aren't finalized, but expect them to come through town sometime in November. I highly recommend you see them. (Check out a few MP3's on their music page and read more about the band here.)

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Mark Olson & the Creekdippers at the Borderline

Another night in London, and another music venue.

Monday night I headed to The Borderline, conveniently located a short walk from Leicester Square. To find the venue, just walk up Charing Cross Road, turn left on Manette Street, and a few steps up to your right, there in a little court called The Orange Yard you'll find something straight ahead of you that looks like a garage door when it's down. When it's up it's actually the entrance to the club. (If it's not open, don't inquire next door about gigs as the door to your right is actually the back door to an entirely different pub.)

I arrived pretty much as the doors opened to find a seat. (Sitting has become my favorite body position after two days of 4+ hour walks in London have left the soles of my feet literally blistered.)

I was glad to have arrived early to catch Danny George Wilson (of the band GrandDrive), who just happened to be releasing his debut solo CD The Famous Mad Mile on Fargo Records this very day. I found Wilson's opening set to be the perfect, reflective start to the evening of Creekdipper's music that was to come. Bob Harris (who has also played tracks from The Twin Cities' own Ashtray Hearts) has been playing tracks from Wilson's new disc on BBC Radio 2.

Mark Olson and the Creekdippers' (tonight Mike "Razz" Russell and Ray Woods) began with "Eyes on The Window," and the trio damn near broke my heart right from the start. As the strains of the first song wafted over the extremely attentive audience (even by English standards), I felt as if someone had just pulled a warm blanket over me after a long, hard day. (I understand now what Cyn Collins meant by "cozy" in her review of the Creekdippers show at Lee's Liquor Lounge in Minneapolis on March 23rd.

Through 20 songs and two encores, the Creekdippers took me on a trip through their discography featuring songs from December's Child, Zola and the Tulip Tree, and a nice helping of songs from Political Manifest. The band switched instruments seemingly on every song, Razz going from fiddle to guitar and bass, Mark from bass (which he admitted is his favorite instrument) to acoustic guitar even to dulcimer. At one point, drummer Ray Woods even took a turn on bass. (Apparently, he had expressed an interest in not having to sit down for the entire set.)

From the start it was sweet hear the voice (Mark Olson's) that I'd totally fallen in love with on The Jayhawk's album Hollywood Town Hall. And there were a few songs tonight (though all Creekdipper's songs) that sounded like they could have been outtakes from that period, which is just another way of saying that Olson's voice and songwriting are truly distinct.

"Still We Have a Friend" from December's Child -- which reminded me a bit stylistically of Robyn Hitchcock, who also took a dig at Condaleezza Rice on his most recent album -- morphed into "Condaleezza's Pride," a chilling indictment of the current U.S. Secretary of state. I myself have never understood how someone (Condy) with the sensitivity to be an accomplished classical pianist could be so terribly misguided in her worldview. I'd have to actually call her evil, if I believed such a thing existed. I found this as yet unrecorded song to be troubling as it at least attempted explanation (or not) in story format.

Olson's political songs, indictments of George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and others, come across with a deep undercurrent of sadness. Some are bluesy, some have an up-tempo funky feel. But none are self-righteous. Perhaps that comes from an understanding that some of us have taken wrong turns (really, really wrong in some cases.) And some of us (like George, Donald and Condee) sadly just kept on going. Olson seems to approach these people's lives at times as if they were Greek tragedies instead of fodder for condemnation. But these are exactly the kind of songs, which if heard by the right ears at the right time, could really make a difference.

Olson introduced "Pacific Coast Rambler" by saying it was their "bum walking down the highway song" and alluded to the often lonely life of even reasonably well-known musicians on the road. When Razz Russell took up the vocal on the second verse, something about the timber of his voice came together with the rest of the music in the mix and broke my heart. Honest. I nearly broke into tears right then and there in my front row seat at the Borderline.

It was a truly sweet show, and I had a chance to chat with each of the band members afterwards. I didn't expect Mark to remember my mug, but he was one of the first people I actually met when I moved to Minneapolis in 1988, along with Mark Perlman back in the days when you'd still frequently find the likes of the Jayhawks and Soul Asylum still hanging out at the CC Club on ocassion.

And cheers to the new friends I made at the gig: Lisa from New Jersey and John from Dover, who were quite possibly the biggest Mark Olson fans in the room. (John had driven down from Dover for the gig and Lisa had arranged a layover in London just to see the show.)

Razz and Ray tell me to expect a Minneapolis visit from the Creekdippers in early September. HowWasThe Show will keep you posted.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Glastonbury 2005 comes to an end

I didn't go to Glastonbury this year. And in a way I'm glad I didn't. What they've now taken to calling "Flash Flood Friday" would not have been fun for an overseas traveller as waist high water in some cases filled the campgrounds. (Sean Hoffmann and I encountered not quite as bad a mudbath, but still pretty serious weather conditions last year at Roskilde.)

But as Glastonbury wrapped up last night, and I spent an odd night in, sitting in my hotel room drinking Stella Artois, I was able to watch several hours of festival highlights on BBC2, and I really feel I got the sense of what was probably one of the better festivals of the past ten years, rain or not.

I saw performances by (among others) The La's, a shirtless Rufus Wainright (performing "Gay Messiah"), Shirley Manson of Garbage (doing some dirty business with a blow-up doll during "Why Do You Love Me?"), Brian Wilson mesmerizing the crowd with the Beach Boys greatest hits (I see Mr. Wilson live next weekend), a hot outfit from Nashville called Be Your Own Pet, The Futureheads, Ian Brown, and a highlight for many, Rilo Kiley. Oh, and I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy some of final night headliners Basement Jaxx who probably won the prize for having the most people on stage at a time.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Dead Next Door at The Dublin Castle

No, I didn't run off to Ireland. I dropped by a music pub in Camden Town (just a short jaunt from the Camden tube stop) called The Dublin Castle for an evening of rock and roll. (Yes, apparently when on vacation all I do is see live shows.)

I picked the club because I had not been there yet, and I think my nose steared me correctly as I had even more fun than I did at The Barfly on a similar reconaissance mission last summer. The club is well known in these parts, and appears to be on the same circuit as clubs like 93 Feet East, The Windmill, and Islington Academy for emerging local acts and according to a news article posted at the site has hosted bands such as Blur and Madness in their formative years.

The first band Motel Hero put on a respectable show, but their performance didn't seem to have much more energy than their sound check. The second band, The Cuban Heels, was more up to snuff -- tight, and they had their chops down, but at least for me they were lacking a needed ingredient to generate real excitement. Headliners Luxemborg, the band I actually had gone to see based on a description of "noir pop" by Time Out) were quite good at what they did -- (charismatic and slightly weird new wave -- their keyboard player wore a white hoody.) No complaints there, and they are better than the Killers.

It was the second to last band Dead Next Door that really pumped me up.

I'd met Dead Next Door's drummer Gav (Gavin Ransley) outside before the gig, and he totally reminded me of Damon, the head of security First Avenue back in Minneapolis. Gav introduced me to Rob the bass player, and I was pleased to then actually have people to talk to. In London, I very much feel like a scenester from a different scene, and that's both refreshing and awkward. Refreshing because I enjoy the freedom of being completely unrecognized; awkward, because as a shy person it can be taxing to keep yourself occupied between bands without conversation.

Dead Next Door's set started about half past ten. It only took me about 15 seconds to A) realize I was enjoying the band very much, and B) pick the mix of influences that I was hearing. From the first song "Sense of Place" these influences were equal parts U2, Clash and Interpol. From the second song "Metro" (which is featured on the band's debut EP) I added Joy Division and Echo & The Bunnymen, and anyone who knows my personal tastes knows happens to me when these forces collide. Add the heavy hitting and straight on rock drumming of Gav and you have a no nonsense, molotov cocktail of a band.

Gav described their music to me as "aggressive rock," even going so far as to think he'd coined the phrase "aggro-rock" and wondered if they could bill themselves as "the world's first aggro rock outfit." (Sorry, Gav, but a Google search on "aggro-rock" yields over 6,000 results currently.) But he does have a point about the rhythm section. There is a melodic pop element omnipresent in Dead Next Door's songs, and the guitars are known to ring sweetly on ocassion, but the songs never get derailed by sentiment. The drums and bass always push forward, never reaching a frenzy, but never allowing you to forget that first and foremost this is a rock band.

Ed the guitar player plays with his guitar so low to the ground you'd swear it weighed 300 pounds. And fronting the goup is Andreas, whose vocals are on the Bruce Springsteen side of Kelly Jones. (This is a compliment whether or not you like the Stereophonics.) And he's a frontman not afraid to tap into the charisma of Jim Morrison.

One set highlight was "Twenty Seven" (again a song from their EP.) The band's most popular song, requests for it had been being shouted out since near the start of the set. When played the sizable crowd -- the largest crowd for any of the four bands on this bill -- went crazy (photos will be online when I return to the States.)

Clearly seeing my enjoyment as I danced in the front row shooting photographs, a man leaned in and said, "This band is going to be huge!" Never mind that I found out later it was Gav's brother. Enthusiam like that is contagious, and it just goes to show you that another of the greatest assets a band can have is its fans.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

The TV Sound Play Minneapolis tonight - The Creekdippers play London on Monday

If anyone saw the Revolver Modele, Divorcee, Superdanger show at the Varsity last night and has a report, leave a note in the comments.

RM has a cool new website you should definitely check out.

Tonight (Saturday), of course, The TV Sound play the Hexagon in one of the last shows they will be doing in a while as lead singer Steve Hutton takes an extended absence (11 weeks!) to do some work in NYC.

There's another local show I'm missing while stuck in London, however, my sprits soared today when I picked up a copy of Time Out and see that Mark Olson and the Creekdippers will be playing The Borderline on Monday. Nothing I love better than seeing Minnesota heros play right here in my home away from home.

Greetings from ellowen deeowen - New Order plays Hyde Park

I am in London.

The first rock and roll t-shirt I ever bought was at the old Northern Lights record shop on Hennepin Avenue in 1984 or 1985. It featured a yellow and gold cog, and I can't recall if it actually said "New Order" on it, but it was one of their shirts, and I was so young at the time I actually felt cool and powerful whenever I wore the damn thing (usually with my black jeans.)

Last night I saw New Order headline the first night night of the Wireless Festival in Hyde Park. As a critical journalist, I have to agree with many who will tell you that New Order technically suck(s) live (technical issues, Bernie Sumner can't sing or remember all the words, etc.) But I must also say it's a great and heartwarming experience to see this band, especially amongst their many friends.

Peter Hook is a total ham. He spent a good part of "Temptation" way out on the side of the stage in front of the speakers and video monitor. At other times he went Lord knows where and Bernard Sumner even had to ask at one point, "Where's Hooky?" Hooky loves the limelight, he clearly loves playin bass for New Order, and damnit, we love him right back.

I found myself guessing the setlist surprisingly accurately for never having seen them. They "played the hits" as they say, everything from "Crystal" to "Regret" to "True Faith" to "Blue Monday," and an abundance of Joy Division "covers" including "Transmision" and "She's Lost Control." All we didn't get was my all time favorite (or favourite, I should say as I am in England), "Age of Consent."

Elsewhere yesterday, because of the close proximities of the stages, and conveniently staggered start times, I was able to catch Rilo Kiley, Tegan and Sara, The Psychadelic Furs, Moby, Graham Coxon, the Dresden Dolls, The Dears, and the Rogers Sisters.

It was my first time seeing Rilo Kiley (I missed their First Ave show) and they defnitely brought it. They write great songs, sound great live and definitely sold me a disc. One horrendous show moment, however, came as their guitar player did a god-awful cover of "Let My Love Open the Door" on an out of tune (are they ever in tune?) ukelele. I asked my friend (Andrew Zincke of The Smoking Beagle, "Why on earth would they do something that to a perfectly good set?" Otherwise, the show was top notch.

The Dears soared. They are definitely a band born to be seen live. (Clearly, I am playing catch up over here -- I missed the Dears at their Quest show in Minneapolis a few weeks back.) The Rogers Sisters are a Brooklyn-based band whom I was turned onto by Andrew's friend Phil from the Beggars Group.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Radiohead's OK Computer tops Spin's 100 Greatest Albums, 1985-Now

My copy of Spin hadn't arrived as of today's stop at the HowWasTheShow P.O. Box, but you can read their "100 Greatest Albums, 1985-Now" and see part of the list on their website here. (The magazine will reveal the list one piece at a time online, so go buy a copy if you need to see the whole thing right away. The issue hit newstands today.)

Radiohead's OK Computer (1997) tops the list. Spin says, "Between Thom Yorke's orange-alert worldview and the band's meld of epic guitar rock and electronic glitch, it not only forcast a decade of music but uncannily predicted our global culture of communal distress."

CNN gives a good overview of the article here and lets a few cats out of the bag while name checking Chuck Klosterman in the process.

Like Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time released in 2003, Spin's roll call is a sure-fire debate starter. Note, for example, that 25 of the 100 albums on the list are hip hop releases. And just looking at items 86-100 you can see The Strokes Is This It? (RCA, 2001) is at #100. Frankly, I'm surprised it's on the 2o year list at all.

I'd be interested in hearing other people's pick for the #1 of the past 20 years in the comments. It's the 20 years bit that makes this so hard. If it were 25 or 30 it would be a whole lot easier. In my own twisted brain anyway, many of the best albums of the past 20 years were made before 1985. It just seems wrong that The Queen Is Dead is on the list, but The Smiths can't be because it came out in a year to early in 1984.

Radio K's big FM Launch starts today

If you haven't heard Radio K on their new FM signal at 106.5 FM, why not try it out today? The new signal, which covers much of Minneapolis, the western suburbs and St. Paul has already been broadcasting for weeks from 4:30 p.m. until 8 a.m. on weekdays and all night on weekends.

Today the signal goes 24 hours a day (at least for the rest of the summer.)

Check their website for special events and giveaways all week, including a listening party Thursday, June 23rd from 9 to midnight at Pandora's Cup (2516 Hennepin Ave) and listen to Atmosphere play live in Studio K.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Soul Asylum Bassist Karl Mueller - July 27th, 1963 to June 17th, 2005

Karl Mueller - July 27th, 1963 to June 17th, 2005

HowWasTheShow extends our sympathy to Karl's family and all those who were close to him, many of whom are close to us. Karl's passing reminds us how tight-knit the Twin Cities musical family really is, and that the degree of separation between us all is terribly, terribly slight.

The photo above was taken at the "Rock for Karl" benefit at the Quest, October 21st, 2004. (Photo: Steve Cohen.)

Memorial services will be held Wednesday at Lakewood Cemetary Chapel in Minneapolis.

Annoucing the 2005 European Rock and Roll Tour

The European Rock and Roll Tour 2005 starts in one week.

I've been writing this weekly column for nearly 3 months now. (Even though some people may not even realize these Friday roundups of what's going on in the Twin Cities music and arts scene are columns.)

Despite the fact that I'll be out of the country the next three Fridays, I'm going to at least still make an effort to continue this, though posts to the main website will totally cease until my return. In the blog you can expect reports about The UK's brand new Wireless Festival (where New Order headlines a show in Hyde Park in London a week from today featuring Moby, The Bravery, Graham Coxon, The Dears, The Psychadelic Furs, Rilo Kiley, The Dresden Dolls, Tegan & Sara and more), Denmark's Roskilde Festival (where Black Sabbath, Green Day, Velvet Revolver, Duran Duran, Snoop Dogg, Audioslave, The Mars Volta, Brian Wilson and Turbonegro will all take their turns on the mainstage the weekend after) and Dublin's Oxegen Festival (where I can play catchup with many of the bands I already mentioned that I may have missed due to scheduling conflicts) the weekend before I return home. I plan to leave my options open to attend one of the Live8 festivals in London, Paris or Berlin on Saturday, July 2nd, if for some reason a ticket to one of those comes my way.

Back here at home, there was finally a Friday where it was pretty easy for me to figure out what to do.

Forgive me if this scenario wasn't as obvious to you as it was to me: Early: Walt Mink Reunion show at the Triple Rock. Late: Vicious Vicious CD release at the Entry.

Walk Mink's performance at the Triple Rock will be recorded and filmed for a documentary. (At the time of writing, there were still tickets available, but this may not be true by door time at 5PM. Please check with the venue.) If you are going, keep in mind also that there are no openers and music is likely to start 30 to 45 minutes after door time, so arrive on time.

Vicious Vicious headline the Entry for their CD release party. Openers are Valet and Askeleton. (Read more in Chris Riemenschneider's weekly column here.)

Other musical options Friday:

  • The Bill Mike Band and Redstart with Annika-Bam - Cedar Cultural Center $8/10 7PM
  • Landing Gear / Whisper in the Noise / Ryan Lee - Uptown Bar
  • The Bottle Rockets w/ Luke Zimmerman - 400 Bar
  • Autumn Leaves / New Vintage (Baby Grant Johnson's New Wave Outfit) / Unstuck - Turf Club
  • The Mammy Nuns open for The Belfast Cowboys at Lee's Liquor Lounge. The SPMC Mobile Smoking Lounge (aka: _SmoLo_), which will be parked in Lee's lot. Show starts around 9:00 pm.

Pride Art Show

The Pride Art Show has its opening Reception at 7PM at the Calhoun Square Gallery on the 2nd floor of Calhoun Square - Admission is $5. There will be entertainment and refreshments and musician Future Lisa's Zeodrift Sculptures will be on display. (Incidentally, Lisa tells me her new CD is almost done and will be ready for a September 2005 release.) The Pride Art show will showcase different mediums from local and national GLBT artists and their supporters. It runs thru 7/2

More info at:
Add "King of Man" to Har Mar Superstar's appellations.

A recent communique from Meanfiddler (promoters of England's Reading and Leeds festivals, among other things) had this to say to promote two upcoming Har Mar shows in the UK: Part Rock n Roll part RnB all superstar! This King of Man walks vertically challenged through two towns for some exciting shows delivering his crafted lyrics and tight underpants into Camden's new re-furbished Koko and Madchesters Life Cafe. He plays the Life Café, Manchester July 4th and the Koko, London on July 6th. (And damn, I plan on being in Amsterdam those two days.)

Independent Film Channel promotes Friday Night Pulp

I got an email from man about town and local music supporter Rob "Tumble" Czernik, former ad sales guy for Pulse TC. He tells me he's working for the Independent Film Channel promoting their Friday Night Pulp Film series. Friday night he'll be at Grumpy's Downtown hosting the IFC Film Fanatic Challenge, which he calls "A Jeopardy-style trivia game, with real buzzers and everything!"
Everyone that plays is entered in a drawing, and you might win an iPod mini! And there's more: On June 30 you might win a Sony entertainment system, and whoever wins the TV system is entered in a drawing to go to Cannes.

Rob will be at Grumpys June 16 from 6-9pm, and the 17th and 18th from 9-12. He'll be back there on the 23rd from 6-9 and the 24th and 25th from 9-12.

The First Avenue Newsletter this week asks you to do your part and contact your congresspeople to make sure the 22nd Amendment is not repealed. (For those who forgot to finish their civics homework, the 22nd Amendment is the one that ensures that we're finally done with GW at the end of this term.)

This week's column will be in two installments. Tune in tomorrow for Saturday's recommendations.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

200+ Voltage: Fashion Amplified 2005 CDs stolen

It took me a full day to admit this because it partly due to my own negligence. In any case, here is the story.

Yesterday morning (Tuesday, June 14th) just before 9 a.m. I walked to my car parked in front of my house in South Minneapolis and noticed an odd thing. A Voltage: Fashion Amplified poster was hanging out the bottom of the back passenger side door. On closer inspection I saw through the window that the glove box was open and all the manuals and my insurance card, etc. had been spilled onto the front seat floor.

As I was going through the papers and cleaning up I noticed that the back seat was a lot emptier than it had been. Yes, one and a half (possibly two and half -- it's hard to be sure) cases of shrink-wrapped Voltage CD's (100 to a case) were gone. Why the door was possibly left unlocked, and why the CD's were not safely in the trunk I can't intelligently account for, but nevertheless, this is how the dice fell.

This thief, however, was not too smart. (Thieves is actually more likely as one person can't easily carry 3 boxes of CD's away on foot, and someone in a car would not have been likely to notice an unlocked passenger side door.) In the center island compartment between the seats of my car were the brand new Beck album Guero and Brendan Benson's Alternative to Love, which would actually have a small re-sale value. And even a lone one dollar bill! But nothing other than the Voltage CDs appears to have been taken. They also left behind the new album by local band Terramarra. (Suddenly this scene is reminding me of the one between "The Dude" -- Jeff Bridges-- and the Police Officer in The Big Lebowski regarding the "Credence tapes.")

I seriously wonder what someone is going to do with 250 identical shrink-wrapped local music compilations. If someone tries to hoist a case on you, consider this: The only place to obtain non black-market copies of the album are at your favorite local indie record shops (where the distribution is all being done through Electric Fetus Onestop), from a few of the fashion boutiques in Minneapolis, or direct from me or Voltage Producer Anna Lee.

The saddest thing about all this, of course, is that these CD's were sponsor and musician-subsidized product, and the sales were earmarked for charity (Youth in Music.)

It also means that we have a substantially smaller number of CD's left now to re-stock the record shops when they run out. This is no publicity stunt, but they will be gone a lot quicker now, so if you want one, stop into the Fetus or Cheapo or Roadrunner Records and buy one before they are gone for good.

Any information that could lead to the return of the discs would be greatly appreciated. My email is

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Another Friday runaround - Halloween, Alaska and Mark Mallman

I'd set my goals high, even by my own standards of how much can be squeezed into a single evening of rock and roll if you really try. But save missing Robert Skoro, I think we did quite well. When you set out to see 3 or more shows in one night, the swirling energies of the deep dark night either get behind you or against you pretty early on. There's really no middle ground.

We walked into the Cedar Cultural Center a couple songs before the end of the set by Halloween, Alaska. The place was packed (maybe 350+ people, mostly seated, some standing.) The audience was hushed and attentive, something typical of the Cedar, and something that worked well with the nuanced performance by the band.

As already quiet songs faded when they came to an end, not a single audience member clapped until they were quite sure it was done. It almost felt like a symphonic performance. If front man James Diers had told the audience a song was in three parts they probably would have waited until after the 3rd part to clap; that's how attentive they were.

The three songs we heard seemed to included some new material that I hope is on an upcoming HA album finished off the set, and Diers said thank you and "See you in September." September, in fact, is when their next disc will be released. Look for streaming samples on their website throughout the summer.The band's website also reports that along with new original songs, the next disc will include a quasi-cover of LL Cool J's "I Can't Live Without My Radio." (Given the incredible treatment the band gave to Bruce Springsteen's "State Trooper" on their debut disc, I cannot wait to hear this.)

I recognized very few people at this sold out show as well, which says only that the ratio of scenesters attending was quite low.

The Nomad World Pub across the street was our next stop. Owner Chris Mozena proudly showed off the new greenspace next to the club (the newly laid sod will be ready to walk on within a week) that will be the site of lawn bowling and other pub activities (including croquet) in weeks to come. HowWasTheShow's Cyn Collins is organizing a HWTS croquet team that hopes to take on The Onion, The City Pages and any other local media that manages to get a team together. More on that as it develops.

The beer garden is now open, and the Jaegermeister girls were out in force.

We stopped through the Triple Rock where Travis Morrison was playing in the venue next door. We found out Robert Skoro was to take the stage at 11:30, and we probably could have caught a little bit of him, but we opted instead to head over to the Turf Club and get warmed up (i.e. drink more) in preparation for the impromtu Mallman show scheduled for midnight.

Mallman's band tonight featured Jacques Wait and Jeremy Ylvisaker who switched off on bass and guitar and Peter Anderson on drums. It was party atmosphere again at the Turf Club, and Mallman put on a great show.

I got dragged into a drunken dance by a very tall woman who spun me around, then warned, "Okay, now I'm going to dip you." She dipped me and I felt my back crack, fixing a chiropractic issue that had been nagging me for almost a month. To her, I say thanks. And there's the end of another successful night at the Turf Club. Isn't it great to be young?

HowWasTheShow's Cyn Collins was also in attendance. Cyn files this report here.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Mark Mallman to play last minute show at Turf Club tonight!

I know it's last minute, but a Mallman show at the Turf Club on a Friday night does change the musical landcape.

It's just a rumor, of course, but Mark Mallman himself started it. On his Myspace Profile he says, "Me and my buddies are doing an IMPROMPTU set under the name 'Mark Mallman and the Heat'...shhhhh, don't tell anyone....."

Okay, Mark. I promise I won't tell a soul.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Congratulations to Steve McPherson, new music editor of Pulse Twin Cities

I got a hint that this might be coming this past weekend, but it looks like Steve himself has let the cat out of the bag in a blog entry yesterday.

Starting in July, Steve McPherson, contributor of some of's most thoughtful reviews in late 2004 and early 2005 (The Frames, The Few Nice Words, Decemberists, and more) will be taking over for Rob Van Alstyne as Music Editor at Pulse Twin Cities when Rob leaves to further pursue his education.

HowWasTheShow would like to wish Steve the best in his new position, and say thanks for the good words, good photos, and good times. And we also would like to wish Rob the best wherever his matriculation takes him.

Cheers to you both!

Summer is officially underway - an abundance of shows and parties

The large-breasted, bikini-clad, guitar-slinging girl on the cover of this week's City Pages indicates? A) That it truly is summer. B) That the City Pages will stop at nothing to get your attention. Or C) Probably both.

Seriously. Check inside this week's issue for Minnesota's Fifty Greatest Hits. You know you love lists. And you may be on this one or know someone who is.

Kudos on the HWTS anniversary/bday party show continue to roll in. Seems I wasn't the only one who had good time. I even had to turn down a review of my own performance because it was too shamelessly self-promoting, even by HowWasTheShow standards. Here's a humorourous excerpt from a review by HowWasTheShow contributor David Rachac:

"When music historians look back at the seminal events in alternative rock history, three things will immediately spring to mind: Television's first performance at CBGB's, Big Star's first album, and the debut of the David de Young Experience (hence referred to as DdYE) on Saturday, June 5th at the Turf Club. Eschewing normal conventions, such as actually practicing with the band, DdYE forged a new path in its two-song set, and may have changed music forever."

Okay, by popular demand I've posted David's review here but for reasons of editorial decorum (that some probably don't believe I have) I don't plan a link from the main site.

Ross Raihala weighs in on the Coldplay debate here in his weekly column in the Pioneer Press.


I'm truly torn. Robert Skoro w/ Travis Morrison Hellfighters at the Triple Rock ($8, 9PM) or Halloween, Alaska with Josh Scott at the Cedar. ($10/12, 8PM) Hmm. Both? It's gonna be tough, but at least the clubs are in close proximity.

Those two great local shows may help take a few people away from the Uptown Bar where Olympic Hopefuls play the first of two shows this weekend. From past experience I know: Olympic Hopefuls + low cover ($7) + Uptown Bar = hot, sweaty and packed.

Want something hard to warm you up for the night? Check out Blood Brothers, The Plot to Blow Up The Eiffel Tower, Big Business and the Chariots. At First Ave ($10/12 6PM AA)


Divorcees's new CD Music For Cleanup Men, Breakdown and Inbetweeners will undoubtedly be on my top 10 of 2005. The new disk has the band sounding like themselves, with equal doses of The Beatles, Oasis, Lloyd Cole and a lot more of my favorites.

Quite simply, this is world-class songwriting.

Divorcee celebrates with a CD Release Show Saturday in the Entry ($6, 8PM)

Divorcees's first release Lovesick (2001) is one of the best pop records in the Twin Cities in the past 5 years, ranking up there with the Beatifics The Way We Never Were.

Here's the new lineup.

Ryan Seitz: vocals, guitar
Jon Herchert: guitar, vocals
Matt Novachis: drums
Cory Eischen: keyboards
Schoen Oslund: bass

Read Rob Van Alstyne's cover story in Pulse this week here.

Battle of the Bands for Underage Musicians

Also Saturday, Homegrown and the City of Champlin Parks and Recreation Department present the Father Hennepin Days Battle of the Bands Contest for Underage Musicians (20 and under)

WHEN: Saturday, June 11, 2005, 4-7pm

WHERE: Father Hennepin Days festival in Champlin (Mississippi Point Park, 651 West River Road, Champlin)

Six bands will compete for prizes including a live performance on the Homegrown show Sunday June 12th, 2 Days recording time with an engineer at Winterland Studios, and a CD package from Noiseland Industries.

For more information see the new Homegrown website at

Art and stuff

Painting by Ben Olson

My friend Ben Olson has a gigantic piece at the Open Door opening at Rosalux. The opening is from 7-11 PM. See his co-conspirator Emma Berg’s new website, that seeks to keep you informed of all the art openings all around the Twin Cities.

Over at the ArtTrujillo Gallery, join Dander "outside" for an early evening rock party for... "The Double Life Of Veronica" paintings by Veronica G. Ochoa. Dander plays at 8:45 PM. The ArTrujillo Art Gallery is at 349 13th Avenue NE. Opening acts include Glitterati, Cazadores, & DJ Jae-Lah.


Stop by the Electric Fetus before the early evening Spoon show at First Ave to see Stephen Malkmus play a free in store show. (He plays the later show at First Avenue that night.) HowWasTheShow will be on hand for both and promises reviews.


Robotboy's new album is out. It's called "and there was no future." More info at The first single from the record Kebuted on Radio-K last Friday.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The Case Against The Case Against Coldplay

My friend Steve McPherson brought Jon Pareles' screed against Coldplay ("The Case Against Coldplay" New York Times, June 5, 2005) to my attention the other day.

Whatever you think of Coldplay, "the most insufferable band of the decade" is inaccurate to the point of ridiculousness. If nothing else, Pareles' much-read article will give music writers who may have felt luke-warm about the release a jumping off point for more passionate criticism of the album, if for no other reason than to defend it against extreme attacks it probably doesn't deserve.

The New York Times' pan of the album is one of those rock reviews that make you wonder, "What did Coldplay ever do to Jon Pareles?"

Though the album may not be at the top of the majority of 2005 Top 10 Lists (it likely won't even make mine) it's really not that bad.

Pareles' article actually inspired me to procure the album a day early just so I could be in a better position to respond. (That, and my girlfriend being a huge Coldplay fan, I thought having the album in my sweaty little hands the day before most of America could get at it might impress her, which it did.)

Read Steve McPherson's "The Case Against The Case Against Coldplay" for a few articulations of the instances where Pareles experienced momentary lapses of reason.

Then make up your own mind even before purchasing it yourself. XFM is streaming the entire album on its listening post here.

Also see The London Times review, which is somewhat kinder. And the Pitchfork review, which is rather indifferent.

What do I think of the album? At times I feel like Coldplay was trying to make an update of the Beatles' Abbey Road (Track 2, "What If" has a near sonic and emotional impact of "You Never Give Me Your Money.") It's clear by song 3, "White Shadows" (my favorite song on the album so far) that the band isn't taking any chances. But what's wrong with that? U2 took no chances with How To Dismantle an Automic Bomb either, and that doesn't make that album bad. Though as the London Times suggests, "X&Y could have been so much more -- if they had tried just a little less. " I do dig the Kraftwerk quotation (from "Computer Love") in "Talk." And "Speed of Sound" as a single is as good as any, though I have no idea what it means. (I didn't understand what "Beautiful Day" by U2 was about either, but as a critical listener I was well aware of how well it worked as a song.)

If you buy the album from iTunes or another online music service (or get burned copies of the album from friends as I'm sure many of you will) here is the set of links the band recommends you check on in the liner notes.

The White Stripes have been fairing better with reviews of their wonderfully-titled new album, Get Behind Me Satan (also released Tuesday.) Listen to the entire album streamed here courtesy of

My early favorite? "My Doorbell." (When you gonna ring it?)

Pitchfork calls Get Behind Me "confounding. " So far, I'm liking it better than Elephant. Need a few more listens and familiarity before I make up my mind.

If you've heard these albums (or not) and have an opinion, leave it in the comments.

Monday, June 06, 2005

HowWasTheShow Party at the Turf Club - best 39th birthday of all!

Did you miss the party Saturday night? HowWasTheShow and friends had a fabulous time. The music was awesome. The crowd was gorgeous. The drinks were tasty. And we even got a link from the online edition of the Pioneer Press ("The Ross Who Knew Too Much" link -- Read Ross Raihala's review here.)

Mark Wheat had joked on 89.3 "The Current" Friday night it would be interesting to see just how many reviews of our own show would end up on our website. That still remains to be seen, though I can tell you nearly everyone who has written for the site over the past three years was there Saturday to help celebrate.

Dan Schultz of was on hand to capture all the action, both onstage and off. (See Dan's photos here or click on any of the photos.)

Good thing the Clown Lounge was open for overflow seating as over 300 people crowded into the Turf Club for music and fun. I got an email from thanking us for the local exposure we were able to give them. (Apparently they got quite a few signatures as well.)

When Pete Hofmann featuring Chris Pericelli of Little Man on guitar opened up the evening just after nine p.m. a sizable audience was already in the club, and it just continued to swell. (BTW, if you missed Pete's interview on the Current last week, listen to that here.) JoAnna James sold a lot of CD's to new fans. I played a couple songs with JoAnna's band and Jessy Greene on fiddle. (See all the action in the photo link.) My two songs went surprisingly well, despite a lack of rehearsal, though due to my exuberance I did break one of JoAnna's strings on "My Girlfriend Likes to Drink Too Much." (Sorry JoAnna!)

Two surprise musical guests were Kari Tauring and Maren Amdal (The Huldre), who along with Matt Spillum on bodhran provided a curiously unexpected interlude of rhythmic cow calls from ancient Sweden and Norway. Where else but at the Turf Club at a HowWasTheShow party could you expect to see this kind of eclectic performance during prime time on a Saturday night?

Chris Koza put on another inspiring performance. Vicious Vicious brought the dance. (I can't wait to hear their new album -- make sure you go see them at their CD Release Party June 17th at the Entry.) And when Romantica (Ben Kyle from Romantica is pictured to the left) finally took the stage around one a.m. I was actually glad we were behind schedule so we had music right up until bar close at 2. This was one party no one wanted to leave. Except of course to go to the afterparty. . .

Thank you to everyone who came, who played, who partied, who drank too much, and made this quite probably the best 39th birthday of all!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

B-Girl Be Summit: A Celebration of Women

Intermedia Arts' B-Girl Be Summit: A Celebration of Women kicked off yesterday and runs through Sunday. Desdamona, Dessa Darling and Sarah White are just a few of the spoken word/hip hop performers featured. Matt Peiken has more here: , and you can get full info at

Pulse Freelancer and political activist Aaron Neumann is running for the Minneapolis City Council Ward 3 open seat, and has received the Green Party's endorsement.

His campaign Neighbors for Neumann campaign has its official campaign kick-off tonight from 8pm - late, at the Mill City Coffee in lower NE Mpls. There will be live jazz, refreshments and cash bar with a suggested donation of $5. You can find all the detailed information on our


Opening tonight (June 3rd) at the Bryant Lake Bowl Theatre, Sandbox Theatre presents the world premiere of Victoria in Red by Ryan Hill.

Victoria in Red is a collaboration between recent Twin Cities transplants and established local artists. It marks the Minnesota directing debut of Ryan Hill and the design premieres of fashion designer Andrew Lawrence Schiff, sculptor Patrick Parsons and lighting designer Lexi Kiel-Wornson. Local veterans include choreographer Lisa Kneller Moreira and performers Heather Stone, Jim Bovino, Sean Byrd, Sara Richardson and Wade A. Vaughn.

The text, workshopped in New York City and Minneapolis, also marks Hill’s premiere as a playwright in the Twin Cities. Performances run every few days through June 30th. Reserve tickets at 612-825-8949. Read more at


Tonight The Violettes are at the The Hexagon Bar with Duplomacy and Brief Candles. They will be performing brand new, unreleased material, first showcased at Voltage last Wednesday. Duplomacy, who recently signed to 2024 Records, is a must see local band. Brief Candles are straight outta Peoria, Illinois (my Mom’s hometown) where they formed in 2002, but have been featured on compilations with Bright Eyes and Of Montreal. In 2004 the band moved to Milwaukee (my Dad’s hometown, weird, huh?) and began touring the Midwest. Now they have a publicist and are ready to roll.

Other shows tonight:
* The Dears @ the Quest (This is where I will be!)
* Melodious Owl / Dosh / Brother Sister @ the Triple Rock (5 and 9PM shows)
* Cloud Cult CD Release Party at First Avenue ($8/10 6PM)
* Captain Yonder / The Owls / Ben Glaros - Cedar Cultural Center


During the Day

Future Lisa will be performing at 3:00 pm at the 18th St stage at the Red Hot Art Festival in Stevens Square Park. More here.

Voltage Fashion Crawl - 11AM to 5PM

The Voltage Fashion Crawl features a sampling of designers who participated in Voltage 05 May 25th at First Avenue. See the full Voltage Fashion Crawl itinerary here.

After the fashion crawl.....

HowWasTheShow birthday

"Yeah, I know it'ds lame to throw yourself a party but I just couldn't resist the urge to pull a few strings and put together my dream concert bill," Rob Van Alstyne pointed out in a Pulse Hot Ticket for his own birthday show last weekend at the Hexagon. But it was a ton of fun.

Following in Rob's footsteps, HowWasTheShow celebrates 3 years of writing about music in the Twin Cities and (and my own 3rd annual 39th birthday) with a party Saturday night at the Turf Club featuring Romantica, Vicious Vicious, Chris Koza, JoAnna James and Pete Hofmann. The show earned a Pulse Hot Ticket and a City Pages A-Listing.

Alva Star at the Uptown Bar

Also Saturday night, Alva Star plays at The Uptown Bar. Krista from Tinderbox tells me the John Hermanson fronted band has a new line-up. Brian Roessler who was Alva Star's original bass player is back on bass. Eric Fawcett (of Olympic Hopefules, Spymob, N.E.R.D) is now on drums.

Alva Star's "Cold Calculated" will be featured in an upcoming episode of HBO's 6 Feet Under!

Openers are Nee Nee & These Modern Socks ($6, 9PM) - This is the show I'd be at if I didn't have to be at my own birthday party.


The TV Sound is currently #1 on the Alternative Dance charts on!

Ticket alert: Coldplay tickets go on sale Saturday at 10 a.m.