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Monday, June 29, 2009

The 757s as Judas Priest?

No words need be spoken, save those below:

The Taste of MN
THE 757s w/ the Romantics, Whitesnake and Judas Priest
Harriet Island, St. Paul
757s @12:30p
FREE before 3p

* The original photo is actually of a band called Manowar.

Report from the Pitkä kuuma kesä festival in Helsinki - Atmosphere, The Flaming Lips & Girl Talk

(Atmosphere in Helsinki - Photo by David de Young)

Pitkä kuuma kesä isn't the largest festival you'll visit, but it may be one of the most unique. Staged on the grounds of an out-of-use natural gas refinery in Helsinki,Finland, the festival hosted more than two dozen world-class bands this past weekend.

I had at least a double-dose of luck when it comes to how I ended up there. Arriving in Finland Saturday, for no other reason than I had not been, first a friend alerted me that local Twin Cities hip-hop group Atmosphere were performing in Helsinki on Sunday, then I happened to run into Wayne Coyne, frontman of The Flaming Lips, the headlining act for the festival weekend, as he purchased a cup of ice cream in the Helsinki City Centre. Enough luck yet? Wayne was then kind enough to put me on the guest list, saving me the 56 euros it would have cost for a one day pass. (A ticket for both days was priced at 90 euros in 2009.)

After touring the city by bus and boat Sunday afternoon, I took a cab to the festival site and arrived just Mogwai had begun their set on the larger of the two stages ("Lava" is Finnish for stage.) It was my first time seeing that UK band live, and they seemed a little reserved, but their down-tempo rock was a good way to ease me into my evening.

Video clip of Atmosphere's "Sunshine"

Up next on the Klubilava was Atmosphere, playing as a 5 piece this night, from The Twin Cities USA. They opened with "God Loves Ugly," and their set included many references to our fair city of Minneapolis. The set featured songs from their most recent album, "When Life Gives You Lemons..." plus some older tunes. The Finns seemed pretty impressed by them overall, participating with hands and fingers in the air when prompted, and the front row sang along to many songs. Slug was wearing a P.O.S. T-shirt, which thrilled me (P.O.S. is wrapping up his/their own tour of Europe right now) enough that I shouted out between songs, "Nice t-shirt," which prompted a friendly "Thanks" from Slug. While telling one story, Slug joked, "You have to forgive me, my English is not so good." He told of arriving in Helsinki on Saturday, which was a rather chilly and gray day, but that the Finns were still out partying until all hours of the night. Sunday's weather, on the other hand, was damn near perfect. Mid-set he introduced "Guns and Cigarettes" saying he's not normally political, but he thinks it's a shame that cigarettes
are getting more expensive while guns get cheaper.

flaming lips closer1
(The Flaming Lips in Helsinki - Photo by David de Young)

The Flaming Lips came on at 9PM, and the sun remained up for their entire set (sunset was around 10:50 PM last night.) One newspaper reported that the Lips had canceled their laser show tonight because they were in too close proximity to the Helsinki airport (20 kilometers.) It must have been my 7th or 8th time seeing The Lips, mostly at European festivals, but several times in Minneapolis as well including The Uptown Bar in 1988 or so and First Avenue. Wayne Coyne asked the pot smoking side of the crowd (stage right) and the beer drinking side of the crowd (my side) to move together into the middle to help support him during his space ball walk which he did before the opening song "Race For the Prize." I recall in Denmark a few years ago Coyne had introduced "The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song" with a short speech about how much he was embarrassed that George Bush was the president of the USA, but this time he quipped, "How lucky can we be to have Obama?" which drew many cheers, including my own. I gotta say it is weird (first time in as long as I can remember) that I would be proud in Europe to cheer publicly the President of the United States and have those around me actually do the same.

Coyne mentioned Michael Jackson's passing as he segued into a slow 1/3 time version of Madonna's "Borderline." He played "Taps" on his automatic trumpet after a few words on how he wishes the US would end "this stupid war" and that was possibly the most emotionally moving moment of the entire night. He said there were so many funerals, that there were not enough musicians to play "Taps" and someone had invented this instrument to do it. He looked forward to a day when the only people who had to play such an instrument were The Flaming Lips. My eyes got wet enough that I actually had to wipe them.

Set closer/encore was "Do You Realize?" for which I pressed myself up against the front barrier and got some good video. The size of the crowd was such that it felt like there was more confetti and more balloons flying around than normal at a Flaming Lips show.

Yet to come was Girl Talk (aka Gregg Gillis), whom I have never really gotten into, but I waited out his entire DJ set (some of it back in the beer garden.) Wasn't a bad way to end a Sunday night in Finland. The sun was down (sorta) by midnight as I left the festival grounds and walked half the way back to my hotel, flagging a cab eventually as I had no idea where I actually was, just a sense I was walking in vaguely the right direction.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

I met Wayne Coyne in Finland

(Wayne Coyne -publicity photo)

By all counts, my European Rock 'n Roll tour 2009 is off to a Flamingly great start. Leaving Minneapolis Friday evening June 26th with a short stop in Amsterdam (long enough to check in on Foursquare and get my "Newbie" badge) I arrived in Helsinki, Finland early Saturday evening. There's a 8 hour time difference which really ate up a lot of my Saturday.

Fortunately, it's midsummer and I am as far north as Stockholm and Oslo (Helsinki is at 61°15'N and 28°15'E) and it's light out pretty much 24 hours a day (sunset 10:49 p.m., sunrise 3:58 a.m.) so I was able to drag myself out to wander a bit. Without even trying, just on the other side of the train station from me, I immediately stumbled onto The Tuska Open Air Metal Fest. Outside the gates, hundreds of punters in black t-shirts and long coats were swilling bottles of Koff beer. There was one band to go when I arrived, Suicidal Tendencies were closing out the night. I opted to skip the 43 Euro entry fee to see only one band and moved along.

tuska fest 2

Checking Twitter from my hotel, my friend Dahli informed me Atmosphere was in town. Their website told me a festival I didn't even know about, Pitkä kuuma kesä 2009 was in full swing and the lineup also included The Flaming Lips and Mogwai so I resolved to try and find if tickets were still available, where it was, etc.

As luck would have it, no more than 45 minutes later while wandering the City Centre, I ran smack dab into someone who would know stepping out of an ice cream shop, Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne himself. Far too jet-lagged to even be nervous, I introduced myself and said I had just arrived in town from Minneapolis, had heard The Flaming Lips were playing in town and asked if he could tell me where the concert was and how to get there.

We chatted for 5 minutes or so about the various European festivals at which I've seen the Flaming Lips in the past, including my top show of all time, the Lips at the then Witness Festival in Dublin (reviewed on HowWasTheShow here.) The biggest joy was to actually get to tell Wayne face to face in casual conversation that the Dublin show had be my show of a lifetime so far. (It was a memorable one where The Lips replaced the White Stripes as headliner after Jack White of the White Stripes had hurt his hand in a car accident in Detroit a few days before.)

Unsure himself if the festival Sunday in Helsinki was sold out, Wayne offered to put me on the guest list, took my business card for HowWasTheShow with my UK mobile number on it so his wife could text me the deets.

Looks like my Sunday evening plans are set.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Rock The Garden 2009 review and videos

This year's Rock the Garden, featuring musical acts Solid Gold, Calexico, Yeasayer and The Decemberists was one of the most enjoyable outdoor festivals I have attended in America in many years. And it wasn't just because the music was consistently great.

This year the Rock the Garden planners wisely rotated the stage 90 degrees clockwise to face the hill where the old Guthrie used to sit (and where most people chose to sit last year anyway, even if they faced the side of the stage instead of the front.) As outdoor concert venues go, it's really quite a lovely natural amphitheater, and I hope it all worked out well with the neighbors living in the nearby homes and they'll be able to set up again like this for future festivals.

Good times, good friends, good beer, and a crowd estimated at at least 8,000 filled the afternoon from 3PM until the sun went down.

If you were there on Saturday, you may never forget the closing number of the night, The Decemberists covering Heart's "Crazy on You." Kyle Matteson quipped on Twitter that it's "Not a good sign when a cover far and away eclipses your entire set," but nonetheless it was both a definite WTF as well as cool as hell moment for those of us who were there.

Here are a few video highlights we captured including both "The Engine Driver" and the "Crazy On You" set closer. A full photo set by Jenn Barnett will be posted shortly on the main site.

Excerpted clips from the Decemberists' Set

The Engine Driver

Crazy on You, Heart Cover & closing number

RACKTACULAR! A Breast Cancer Benefit Presents.......RACKTACULAR!

What: RACKTACULAR! A Breast Cancer Benefit
Where: The Nomad World Pub
When: Friday, July 24th, 9:30 PM 21+, $10 suggested donation

Any fashion or music historian can attest that breasts and rock-n-roll have a long and inextricable history. What better way to celebrate this union than with a rockin’ breast cancer benefit? Join HWTS staff writer Donette Ambrosy for RACKTACULAR! A Breast Cancer Benefit. Proceeds from this bodacious evening of music, burlesque, and ta-ta-tastic tomfoolery go to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Fund. Help raise the funds for Donette and her sister, Sheri Kruser – a recent breast cancer survivor from Dubuque, Iowa – to walk together in the Twin Cities Breast Cancer 3-Day in August. Along with the local musical talents of Aviette, Maudlin, and Hojas Rojas, the lovely ladies from Lili’s Burlesque will model blinged-out brassieres featured from the event’s Art Bra Contest. We’ll even have a silent auction. Come on down to the Nomad World Pub on July 24th to show your support for a great cause…and have a RACKTACULAR time! Friday, July 24th, 9:30pm, $10 suggested donation.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

HowWasTheShow 7-Year Anniversary Photos and Videos

(Photo is of HowWasTheShow founder David de Young introducing City Pages Music Editor Andrea Swensson - Photo credit Ben Clark.) celebrated its 7th Anniversary on the internet Friday night, June 12th at the Turf Club in St. Paul with a few hundred of our closest friends. You'd think that since we know most of the music photographers in town, there'd be more pictures of our show. Several photographers were there, as well as several music writers. Thing is, we were having a party, so most of us were off duty, listening to music, drinking, dancing, talking amongst ourselves.

Big Trouble (featuring guest vocalist David Campbell), Communist Daughter, Aby Wolf, and The Inwood Radio all put on inspiring shows and seemed to have enjoyed themselves as much as we did. It was a line-up custom made to receive a good review, especially if we were to give it one ourselves.

I was unable to resist making a few videos with my Flip Mino, however, and in the interest of making a record of the fun we had on Friday night, I've gathered them here together in this blog post. All videos are by me, except the video of Aby Wolf performing with Big Trouble that was shot by Debbie Donovan.

The first video was a definite highlight of the entire night. As Big Trouble whipped out a cover of Wilco's "I'm Always in Love" from Summerteeth, I jumped up to dance along with writers Jim Walsh, Pat O'Brien and musician Rick Widen. For this song I passed off my video camera to City Pages music-editor Andrea Swensson to capture the action.

This next video was shot by Debbie Donovan. Aby Wolf covers Erykah Badu.

Still more videos from the show are available on the HowWasTheShow YouTube site.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Photos and videos from Mark Mallman's tour kickoff show at the Bryant Lake Bowl

My full review of Mark Mallman's show Saturday night at the Bryant Lake Bowl has been published in the City Pages Blog Gimme Noise. Read it here.

Also, check out my full photo set from the night here. And stay tuned later this week for photographer Jenn Barnett's photos over on the main site at

Below are videos of new and old songs I captured Saturday night at Mallman's intimate sold-out performance, including "You're Never Alone in New York," the first single off his upcoming album Invincible Criminal.

The finale:

Saturday, June 13, 2009

David de Young on Saturday Nights with Esme on WCCO

WCCO Saturday Night With Esme for Saturday, June 13th.

Tonight we recap the HowWasTheShow 7-Year Anniversary Party, talk about Power Balladz at the Lab Theater and about my upcoming festival tour of Europe.

20 Minutes.

MP3 File

Saturday, June 06, 2009

David de Young on Saturday Nights with Esme on WCCO

On my 20 minutes of WCCO Radio fame this week, I am joined by Bethany Ford of Cromulent Shakepeare Company to talk about the production of Shakespeare's The Tempest. Ford is directing the production of one of Shakespeare's final works that is currently making a tour of Twin Cities parks.

Tonight's production at Lake Harriet was rained out, so Bethany was able to join me and Esme Murphy for a brief discussion about the joys and challenges of producing Shakespeare outdoors.

See the full schedule for The Tempest here,

Other topics Esme asked me about this week are Grand Old Days in Saint Paul, and the HowWasTheShow 7th Anniversary Party which takes place Friday night, June 12th at the Turf Club.

MP3 File

Friday, June 05, 2009

St. Paul songwriter, Jeff Hanson dead at 31

Jeff Hanson at the Turf Club in November, 2008 on a bill with Chris Koza.

Jeff was found dead today in St. Paul. The Star Tribune has more details.

HowWasTheShow extends our condolences to Jeff's friends and family. We are extremely saddened to hear this news.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Shakespeare in the Parks!

Having experienced Shakespeare in Central Park in New York and Holland Park and Green Park in London, I can speak from experience that there's nothing quite like Shakespeare in the great outdoors.

The Twin Cities theater group, Cromulent Shakespeare Company will give locals a taste of big city theatrical magic this summer as they present Shakespeare's The Tempest, not just in one park, but in more than a dozen parks around the Twin Cities. Directed by Bethany Ford, The Tempest opens Friday, June 5th in Kenwood Park (see full schedule below.)

See the Cromulent web page for performance schedule for a bonus production, "Shakespeare Soup," which runs concurrently but on a different schedule.

The Tempest, William Shakespeare's tale of a great sorcerer who creates a storm that maroons his enemies on a magical island and Shakespeare Soup, an entertaining original script featuring familiar Shakespearean characters and plot adaptations.

The Tempest is directed by Bethany Ford, who directed the critically-acclaimed Sense and Sensibility for Cromulent in 2008. "This simple and streamlined production of The Tempest explores what it means to be human and what is required to achieve balance and therefore peace in the universe," says Ford. "We will move the story forward with fascinating relationships, suspense and comedy."

The Tempest schedule

7 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, Saturday June 27th at 6:30p.m.
Fri., 6/5 - Kenwood Park
Sat, 6/6 - Lake Harriet Rose Gardens
Sun, 6/7 - Raspberry Park at Harriet Island
Thu., 6/11 - Loring Park
Fri., 6/12 - Powderhorn Park
Sat., 6/13 - Father Hennepin Park
Sun., 6/14 - Como
Tues., 6/16 - Parkers Lake Park, Plymouth
Thu., 6/18 - Washburn Fair Oaks Park
Fri., 6/19 - Riverside Park
Sat., 6/20 - Nokomis Park
Sun., 6/21 - Newell
Thu., 6/25 - Whittier Park
Fri., 6/26 - Phalen
Sat., 6/27 - Caponi Art Park