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Following an especially memorable 2013 edition (in early 2014), First Avenue announced another impressive and certainly eclectic lineup for their Best New Bands of 2014 showcase, scheduled as always soon after the start of the new year on Jan. 17. That’s a Saturday night, which usually guarantees the newbies a large crowd compared to a weeknight. Click here for tickets and more info.
First Ave staff polls local music insiders and makes their own picks to compile the lineup each year, which also comes down to the performers' availability and willingness to play (which explains the absence of a any more-obvious newcomers of 2014).
Here’s a quick rundown of who’s playing:
PaviElle French: Crossover poet, dancer, actor and neo-soul/R&B singer with an impressive eight-man band that includes members of Sonny Knight’s Lakers. Following in Lizzo’s shoes, she’s also booked to play one of the Current’s 10th anniversary parties the following weekend. Read our recent profile of French.
Tiny Deaths: Lizzo’s former bandmate in the Chalice, Claire de Lune, stepped into more of a Beach House/Phantogram-type ambient-rock soundscape on record with Grant Cutler (ex-Lookbook), and then turned it into a band with Votel’s Ben Clark and auxiliary members of Night Moves. Here's our write-up on the record.
Warey: The newest of the “new bands,” this group only just started a monthly Icehouse residency last week but was a shoo-in because of who’s in it: Polica singer Channy Leaneagh, with her former Roma di Luna bandmates Ben Durrant, James Everest and Ryan Lovan.
Zuluzuluu: While he showed hints of Afrobeat, reggae, dub and psychedelic funk influences on his 2012 effort “Cornbread, Pearl & G,” rapper Greg Grease dives full-bore into that hazy sonic territory in this chilled-out, experimental group, also featuring DJ Just Nine, keyboardist Taylor Johnson, and MPC player Trelly Mo.
Suzie: Night Moves co-founder Mark Ritsema steps up to the mic and steps out in glammy, androgynous attire in this new side-project, offering echoes of new wave, Bowie and Solid Gold-style synth-rock.
Sam Cassidy: Fresh off opening Ike Reilly’s Thanksgiving Eve gig at First Ave, this cabinetmaker-by-day folk-rock newcomer shows traces of Father John Misty and local fave Actual Wolf on his newly issued debut, “Debt,” recorded with help from members of the Red Daughters and Jeremy Hanson (Tapes ‘n Tapes) and Rob Skoro (Mason Jennings).
Is Justin Vernon’s good name enough for fans to bet $100-$200 on next summer’s Eaux Claires Festival? Organizers will find out starting Thursday at noon when tickets to the inaugural two-day festival in Vernon’s native Eau Claire, Wisc., go on sale at early-bird prices before any performers have been named.
Two-day general-admission passes can be had for $100 via www.eauxclaires.com. VIP passes that include free beverages (yes, including beer) will be available for $200.
A formal announcement of the festival was made today, following the news a month ago that the Bon Iver frontman/namesake and his partners at Boston’s Crashline Productions received approval to hold the fest July 17-18 at Foster Farm on the Chippewa River near Eau Claire, where the popular Country Jam festival is also held.
Wednesday’s announcement added one more partner to the list of co-organizers, who adds a little indie-rock star power to the event: Aaron Dessner, guitarist for the National and a heavy dabbler in classical and none-of-the-above music composition. Dessner’s brother Bryce is himself curator of an eclectic new fest, Music Now, happening in March in their native Cincinnati.
Aaron Dessner said in the press release for the Eaux Claires Fest: “Justin and I have been friends and collaborators for years,” “Working together to create and curate Eaux Claires is something we've been talking about for a long time. To finally see it come together, and to imagine the music, art and community the festival will bring together, is very exciting."
Said Vernon: “After several years of touring and playing music festivals of all different types around the world, I wanted to put together an event that would honor what we love about this place — including an independent attitude and blaze orange caps — but also shine a light on less familiar and surprising elements that are already weaving themselves into our future. Having this festival right in my backyard gives me and the guest artists a chance to share familiar work and new creations in a setting close to my heart and different than any other stage in the world.”
It’s still unclear if Vernon or Dessner will also be performing at Eaux Claires (pronounced “oh Claire” just like the city), and if so, if they will do so with their best-known acts. Sources close to Vernon say he indeed plans to bring back Bon Iver next year. The National don't have any gigs booked besides at that Music Now fest. We’ll find out for sure when the lineup is revealed early next year.
To celebrate its 10th anniversary, 89.3 the Current is staging 10 Days of Random Acts of Musical Kindness in January. Some of these acts are more random than others but most of them are pretty cool and definitely kind.
* The events start Jan. 15 on the low-key with a Coffee Break with the Morning Show, with music by the Ericksons and free doughnuts and coffee. Free.
As for the more exciting events:
* Record shopping at the Electric Fetus with three Current DJs on Jan. 16. Free.
* 10-inch record release party for a special anniversary vinyl disc, with live performances by the Suicide Commandos featuring Craig Finn and Tad Kubler of the Hold Steady and L'Assassins on Jan. 17 at the Turf Club. $15.
* Jose James, the Minneapolis native who has been making noise since moving to New York, will be in concert at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester on Jan 17. $24.
* Concert and party featuring Hamilton Leithauser of the Walkmen, at the Turf Club on Jan. 17. $15.
* Concert with Current faves Dan Wilson, Jeremy Messersmith and Caroline Smith at the Bryant Lake Bowl on Jan. 18. Tickets only by winning on the radio.
* Mary Lucia’s Rock and Roll Radio Hour goes live with Little Man, Tropical Depression and —drum roll, please — Billy Idol at the Turf Club on Jan. 19. $25.
* A screening of Prince’s “Purple Rain” with live music by Heiruspecs featuring guest vocalists Maurice Jacox, Ashley Dubose, Tickle Torture, and a “special guest” at the Fitzgerald Theater on Jan. 20. $15.
* Two-day anniversary concert and live broadcast featuring Cold War Kids, Dead Man Winter, Hippo Campus and Allan Kingdom on Jan. 23, $20, and Atmosphere, J. Roddy Walston and the Business, The Trashmen and PaviElle at First Avenue on Jan. 24. $25
Tickets for all ticketed events go on sale this week: noon Thursday for MPR members and noon Friday for others. For more information, go to thecurrent.org/ten
Target Center sent the rumor-mill spinning among local music lovers today when it announced that it’s going to announce a “major concert” at a press conference Thursday morning. This highly unusual move -- the arena didn’t even do a press conference to reveal Garth Brooks’ record-setting 11-show run last month – signals that it’s either a top-tier music act, or the show itself is something unusual. Here's our line on who the performer(s) might be:
U2. The Irish rockers just announced additional shows in the 19 cities already confirmed on their 2015 all-arena tour, so the next step will be announcing more cities. There are a couple gaps in the North American itinerary where some Minneapolis dates could be added (early June and early July). Or else any local stop would likely fall on a second U.S. leg after the European trek ends in mid-November. Lord knows the lordly Bono likes to do things with fanfare, too, so a press conference seems suitable. Odds: 1-1.
The Rolling Stones. Keith Richards and others around the band have hinted that they will keep touring in 2015 after a trek to South America in February. For its “50 and Counting” tour in 2013, the band signed a new deal with concert-promotions giant AEG Live, which is the company that manages Target Center. Of late, the band has been hitting arenas more often than outdoor venues. The Stones are certainly worthy of a press conference, especially since their last Twin Cities date was back in 2005 at Xcel Energy Center. Odds 2-1.
Another hat act. After Garthmania last month, the arena will probably get excited about any other mainstream country-music star headed their way. Jon Bream reported last month that two other major tours are headed to local stadiums next summer, the Luke Bryan/Florida Georgia Line match-up and a Zac Brown Band trek. Perhaps one of those is getting re-routed indoors instead. Or perhaps it's the rumored road union of married stars Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert, both of whom are already down to play We Fest next summer. Or maybe it’s Garth again. Seriously. Odds: 7-1.
AC/DC: Despite their confluence of troubles, the Aussie rockers are going ahead with plans to tour behind the new "Rock or Bust" album next year. Unless original singer Bon Scott has been found alive in Tasmania or something like that, though, they don't seem to merit a press conference in Minneapolis. Odds: 20-1.
Prince. As we spelled out in our recent article on the “most overdue concerts,” the local kingpin hasn’t played a big local show since his 2007 gig at Target Center, and he's coming off his twofer album release in September. He could also fall into the “something unusual” category to merit the press conference – although it’s certainly not like him to talk to the press. Especially at 10 a.m. Odds: 30-1.
The Replacements. Ah, where would the local concert rumor mill be without a mention of the local boys, even after they finally played here on their reunion run in September? There was one juicy little tidbit going around after their Midway Stadium concert that an inquiry had been made about Target Center’s availability on New Year’s Eve. However, announcing such a show just a few weeks out seems tardy even for those guys, besides the 100 other reasons this doesn’t sound feasible. Odds: 500-1.
A lineup and setting that harks back to the X-Fests and Ozzfests of the late-1990s, Somerset Amphitheater will host Northern Invasion on May 9, part of a network of hard-rock festivals headlined by Slipknot and Five Finger Death Punch. Here's the full lineup so far:
Slipknot / Five Finger Death Punch / Volbeat / Three Days Grace / Halestorm / The Pretty Reckless / In This Moment / Anthrax (back with heyday singer Joey Belladonna) / Live (without heyday singer Ed Kowalczyk) / Motionless In White / Young Guns / Thousand Foot Crutch / We Are Harlot / Starset / Crobot
Tickets for the inaugural festival in Somerset, Wis. (less than an hour from most of the Twin Cities) go on sale Wednesday at 10 a.m. through the festival's website for the early-bird price of $49.50. A four-pack of tickets can also be bought for $149.
VIP and camping packages are also spelled out on the fest’s site and include a Friday Night Bonfire Party to warm up for Saturday’s concert. And fans really might need a warm-up, since the festival breaks the usual Memorial Day kick-off to outdoor music by a few weeks.
Northern Invasion is part of the World’s Loudest Month, a franchise of eight hard-rock festivals from April to May that includes Rock on the Range in Columbus, Ohio, and Rocklahoma in (you guessed it) Oklahoma.
Fresh off scoring another No. 1 debut on the Billboard album chart with its latest, “.5: The Gray Chapter,” Slipknot will be on familiar territory at Northern Invasion. The Iowan metal kings performed in Somerset several times on their rise up through Ozzfests and other metal lineups, and then they staged one of their two Knotfests there last year.
Knotfest was one of the more successful events staged at Somerset Amphitheater since its rebirth from the former Float-Rite Park in 2011. The bowl-shaped amphitheater -- which sits beside the Apple River (a haven for tubers) and includes several different campgrounds -- only saw three concerts this past summer, including the popular three-day Summer Set Festival with dance and hip-hop acts, plus gigs by Lynyrd Skynyrd and Widespread Panic. Summer Set is due back for its fourth year in mid-August, with acts TBA.
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