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Maroon 5, Usher set Xcel Center tour dates

Posted by: Chris Riemenschneider Updated: September 2, 2014 - 11:39 AM
Usher returned to the MTV Video Music Awards two weekends ago. / Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

Usher returned to the MTV Video Music Awards two weekends ago. / Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

As ratings for NBC’s “The Voice” have gone down, two of the TV music competitions celebrity coaches are going back out on the road in the coming months -- and both are headed to Xcel Energy Center.

The St. Paul hockey arena announced a Nov. 18 concert with Usher this morning alongside a March 23 return by Adam Levine’s Maroon 5. Tickets for the latter show go on sale first, starting Sept. 13 at 10 a.m. through Ticketmaster and the arena box office at prices yet to be announced. Seats for Usher will open up Sept. 15 at 10 a.m. for $37.50-$152.50.

Following his short-lived tenure as a “Voice” team leader last year, Usher marked his return to the stage at the MTV Video Music Awards two weekends ago, where he performed the new single “She Came to Give It To You.” The 35-year-old, Atlanta-reared super-stud – one of R&B’s most successful artists of the past two decades -- also posted a new video (posted below) to promote his late-autumn outing, dubbed the UR Experience Tour and set to begin Nov. 1 in Montreal.

Maroon 5 just dropped its fifth album, “V,” which has already landed another top 10 hit with the lead single “Maps.” Their tour will feature Shakira-affiliated Canadian band Magic! along with one of Levine’s non-"Voice" protégés, Rizzo Crane.

Between now and the tour, the M5 singer Levine will run through another season of “The Voice,” this time with new coaches Pharrell Williams and Gwen Stefani alongside Levine’s returning odd-couple partner Blake Shelton. The new season is scheduled to begin Sept. 22.

Love is all around in Bob Mould's surprise 7th Street Entry gig

Posted by: Chris Riemenschneider Updated: September 1, 2014 - 10:23 PM
Bob Mould rehearsed with his band Sunday afternoon in 7th Street Entry before a surprise gig that night, much of which harked back to the fast-and-furious shows of his old band Hüsker Dü. / Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

Bob Mould rehearsed with his band Sunday afternoon in 7th Street Entry before a surprise gig that night, much of which harked back to the fast-and-furious shows of his old band Husker Du. / Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

 

The facetiousness in bassist Jason Narducy's voice near the start of Sunday afternoon’s rehearsal at 7th Street Entry was as loud as the throwback performance to come later that night.
 
"I'm gonna need a lot of guitar in my monitor," Narducy instructed their sound man, to laughs.

The joke lay in the fact that Narducy was only standing about eight feet from bandleader Bob Mould's amplifier, as is always the case on the puny stage that has been an enormous incubator for Twin Cities bands since Mould himself formed a group 35 years ago. What’s more, Mould’s amp was predictably cranked loud enough to be heard eight blocks away, as is always the case when he’s playing with his current band -- just like it was with his first one.

Thirty-three years after Minneapolis punk heroes Hüsker Dü recorded their fastest (yet dullest) album in the Entry, “Land Speed Record,” the band’s co-leader returned there Sunday to play a gig that had been announced less than 24 hours earlier and sold out in less than 10 minutes. It was Mould’s first time performing in the 250-capacity former broom closet since a pair of solo-acoustic shows in 1991, but those gigs were nothing like the old days. Sunday’s concert very much was.

“How many of you have seen a band at the Entry play two sets?” Mould asked the crowd as he walked out on the stage for the second time Sunday.

Harking back to the days when headlining Entry bands were required to stretch out their act to beef up bar sales, the show was split into two sets. The 45-minute first block was made up largely of tunes from Mould’s last two albums, both recorded with Narducy (frontman of Verbow) and drummer Jon Wurster (Superchunk). The second set started off with two songs that dated back to the “Land Speed” era, and it didn’t often get much more current than that. One of the Hüsker Dü songs, “Up in the Air,” had not been played by a Mould-led band since the year it came out (1987), and several more have only recently been dusted off.

Coming on the heels of their more standard but still memorable showing Saturday for the MN-Music-on-a-Stick concert – you wouldn’t have known their only rehearsal of late would be after that State Fair appearance – Mould and his bandmates tacked on Sunday’s gig as a warm-up for a month-long U.S. tour that begins Friday in Philadelphia, their first trek behind the emotionally blustery album from June, “Beauty & Ruin.” The show was also organized as a fundraiser for nonprofit music org DEMO, run by former First Ave manager Steve McClellan.

Mould hashed out Sunday's two-part set list with bassist Jason Narducy (on couch) and drummer Jon Wurster (seated, right), both of whom have their say in the selections. / Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

Mould hashed out Sunday's two-part set list with bassist Jason Narducy (on couch) and drummer Jon Wurster (seated, right), both of whom have their say in the selections. / Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

Talking in the First Ave green room next door after their rehearsal -- their afternoon workout included a couple other rare oldies not played later that night – Mould credited Narducy and Wurster for pushing him to revisit more Hüskers tunes, and to dust off other nuggets from throughout his discography. Narducy, for instance, encouraged them to add their rocked-up version of 1989’s “Sinners & Their Repentances” to Sunday’s set list, while Wurster pushed for “Come Around,” an uncharacteristically mellow one from Mould’s early-’90s trio Sugar. The drummer had also previously talked Mould into reviving 1985's “Flip Your Wig,” one of his all-time favorites.

“These guys love those records, and if they get excited to play that stuff, I do, too,” Mould said. “And yeah, I’m proud of a lot of it, too.”

Sunday’s show was a test run for the rest of the tour. “We’ll play with [the set list] at first,” Bob added, “and then there’ll be one night where it really seems to click, and it might be hard for us to break away from that one after that.”  

Looking fit enough at age 53 to bench-press longtime admirer and new buddy Ryan Adams – he dropped about 30 pounds over the past year – Mould didn’t allow his bandmates time to catch their breath during most of the first set before tearing into the next song. There was even less room in the second run. The only time he seemed less than fully able-bodied was when he struggled to read the set list at his feet toward show’s end, but that was because he had to take off his glasses. No exaggeration: The lenses kept fogging up from the steam coming off the stage.

While the old songs predictably earned the most enthusiasm -- and even sparked a sizable pit of middle-aged moshers (none of whom where doing as well as Bob in the fitness/weight-loss department) -- a lot of Mould’s newest tunes would have fit in side-by-side with the Hüskers classics in terms of fiery delivery. Highlights included the full-on rager “The War” and the more melodic, upbeat pre-encore closer “Fix It.”

Mould himself was upbeat talking about his old days in the Entry, despite the distance he maintains from his Hüsker Dü bandmates these days. “We had a lot of fun nights in that particular room,” he said before the show. “Of course, a lot of it is a blur now, but I do know it was fun then. That's when the band was really clicking and probably at our best.”

The star for Mould's old band is not-so-coincidentally right next to the 7th Street Entry door.

The star for Mould's old band is not-so-coincidentally right next to the 7th Street Entry door.

Even when he’s not playing a show as special as Sunday’s, though, it’s pretty easy to see that Mould is having more fun with Narducy and Wurster than he’s ever had playing in a band, an assumption he confirmed before the gig.

“I said it [on Saturday], too: I hope I can play with these guys as long as I’m still playing.”

No argument there. Here’s Sunday’s set list(s):

FIRST SET

Star Machine / The Descent / I Don't Know You Anymore / Sinners and Their Repentances / Little Glass Pill / Kid With Crooked Face / Nemeses Are Laughing / The War / Come Around* / Changes* / Helpless* / Keep Believing

SECOND SET

In A Free Land+ / Real World+ / Something I Learned Today+ / Chartered Trips+ / Could You Be The One?+ / Flip Your Wig+ / See a Little Light / Celebrated Summer+ / Hardly Getting Over It+ / Tomorrow Morning / Up in the Air+ / If I Can't Change Your Mind* / Hey Mr. Grey / Fix It   

ENCORE

Makes No Sense at All+ / Love Is All Around (theme from “Mary Tyler Moore Show”) / New Day Rising+

(+Hüsker Dü songs   *Sugar songs)

"Fancy" star Iggy Azalea coming Oct. 17 for U of M homecoming concert

Posted by: Chris Riemenschneider Updated: August 28, 2014 - 11:54 AM
Iggy Azalea performs on NBC's "Today" show earlier this month in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP

Iggy Azalea performs on NBC's "Today" show earlier this month in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

An impressive recruitment tantamount to the Gopher football team landing the next Johnny Manziel for its quarterback – a cocky rising mega-star who’s untested and has people talking -- the University of Minnesota has confirmed rocketing Australian pop-rapper Iggy Azalea for its annual homecoming concert Oct. 17 at TCF Bank Stadium.

Tickets go on sale Sept. 9 at $20-$25 for students and $40-$50 for everyone else via MyGopherSports.com. Ohio pop-rock quartet Walk the Moon of "Anna Sun" semi-fame will open.

After her club banger “Fancy” spent seven weeks atop Billboard’s Hot 100 chart on its way to being the unofficial summer jam of 2014, Azalea has been working away across American and European festivals with mixed results. Rolling Stone named her set at Lollapalooza in Chicago earlier this month “best time to puke,” saying she “tossed out her songs for the audience to consume without much exuberance.” Here’s a video below of her delivering her big hit at the Hot 97 Summer Jam in New York (F-bomb warning!).

This will be the 24-year-old Sydney native’s Twin Cities debut and the second big concert of the year at TCF Bank Stadium, after the MLB All-Star Game concert with Imagine Dragons and Atmosphere in July. Like that show, only about half the stadium will be used for seating. Atmosphere was also a headliner for one of the prior homecoming concerts, company that also includes Passion Pit and B.O.B.

First look at St. Paul's renovated Turf Club, which reopens Thursday

Posted by: Chris Riemenschneider Updated: August 28, 2014 - 9:21 AM

First Avenue's Dayna Frank and Nate Kranz look over the finishing touches underway this week at the Turf Club, which reopens Thursday with a newly raised ceiling and other changes. / Jerry Holt, Star Tribune

 

When the doors open tonight on the “new” Turf Club, the most common reaction among patrons will probably be how much it still looks like the old Turf Club.

“It’s kind of embarrassing, because people are like, ‘Well, what the hell have you been doing for the past three months?” laughed First Avenue general manager Nate Kranz, whose crew took over the 1940s-era St. Paul Midway area venue late last year and closed it for renovations June 1.

During a preview of the new digs Tuesday, however, First Ave owner Dayna Frank made a point of showing off all the heavy (and costly) work that did actually go into the place -- including a $200,000 sprinkler system, a similarly priced kitchen installation, new sound and air/heating equipment and a rebuilt roof. Oh, and there’s some new plywood in the otherwise unchanged Clown Lounge basement bar.

 

”It’s mostly things people probably won’t notice for now,” said Frank, who is confident that folks will at least appreciate the undeniably major bathroom improvements on both floors.

The club recruited local singer Maggie Morrison (Votel, ex-Lookbook), a mosaic artist by day, to create some special tile flourishes in each of the restrooms based on the club’s '40s-style horsetrack-themed logo. They mosaics will be joined by the posters of an indisposed Frank Zappa and a large-reared woman, which previously greeted users of the upstairs bathrooms.

“The Zappa poster dates back to the Rob Rule era, so we had to bring that back,” said Kranz, referencing the club’s well-known booker during the late-‘90s and early-‘00s. Other posters promoting gigs from that era have also been rehung in the bar’s main room, where the tables now fold in and out of the wall to provide more legroom when the 300-capacity venue fills up for a show. The ceiling was raised in the roof reconstruction, which -- along with the opening of the back crorner near the new kitchen -- also gives the room a more open, spacious vibe. A new 20-beer tap rack was added to the bar, the front part of which was rebuilt but otherwise looks just like before.

The "new" mural behind the stage, which was hidden for decades. / Jerry Holt, Star Tribune

The "new" mural behind the stage, which was hidden for decades. / Jerry Holt, Star Tribune

The new Turf crew did not have to hire an artist to paint the new mural behind the stage, which was actually hidden behind curtains throughout the bar’s history as a rock club. But plenty of work was done around the rebuilt/enlarged stage, including installment of a new Electro-Voice sound system that is essentially a smaller version of the one at First Ave. Delay speakers were added on the other side of the room to offer better sound to patrons standing back near the front door or Clown Lounge staircase.

Speaking of the front door, St. Paul’s unofficial music mayor Martin Devaney was hired to work the door on opening night as a nod to the club’s own unique, non-Minneapolitan identity.

The food service – including lunch, dinner and brunch – is the one new addition that will most discernibly mark the beginning of a new era for the venue more than anything else, but it’s not scheduled to begin until Sept. 5.

Seated in the club’s new downstairs green room Tuesday – which is actually painted green (but so are the upstairs walls now, too) -- Frank and Kranz looked over the final draft of the menu with Turf manager Josh James, who’s one of several holdovers from the club’s prior ownership. The food will be heavily Southern-flavored, with such highlights as Carolina shrimp with grits, crawfish- and bacon-filled mac and cheese and a fried-chicken sandwich. The bar’s basic burger is apparently something to brag about, too.

“A lot of people told us that -- even with the huge variety of food in this area -- you can’t get a good burger in the Midway,” said Frank, who’s otherwise happy to have not messed too much with the good thing that was the Turf Club before its renovations. “It was all about making it a place that will be around for a long, long time.”

The music calendar for September is already crammed with the likes of JD McPherson, Benjamin Booker, the Jayhawks, Nick Waterhouse, Shonen Knife, Hawkwind, Lee Bains III and Mike Watt’s new band. Here’s the lineup for this weekend, including the Saturday show just announced yesterday:

THURSDAY: Dead Man Winter, Frankie Lee, Erik Koskinen, plus a likely surprise guest (9 p.m., sold out).

FRIDAY: Reunited Amphetamine/Reptile noise-rockers Hammerhead with Comb Boats (10 p.m., $10).

SATURDAY: P.O.S.’ and Astronautalis’ duo Four Fists, plus Solid Gold and more surprise guests (9 p.m., $20).

SUNDAY: Cosmic pop twangers Night Moves with Carroll, Rupert Angeleyes and the Chambermaids (9 p.m., $12-$14).

Daniel Hornfeldt wiped down the new bar top. / Jerry Holt, Star Tribune

Daniel Hornfeldt wiped down the new bar top. / Jerry Holt, Star Tribune

Dr. Dog loosens up the State Fair's wooden free stage

Posted by: Chris Riemenschneider Updated: August 28, 2014 - 12:21 AM

It only took two songs before the stiff seating policy at the State Fair’s biggest free stage was thrown out the window Wednesday night at the Leinie Lodge bandshell.

Cult-loved Philly band Dr. Dog -- which returns to the same Space Needle-shadowed venue Thursday at 8:30 p.m. -- kept its swarm of 2,000-plus fans seated through the slow-grooving opening tune “Ain’t It Strange,” but bodies started to move and stand and sway during the peppier second tune, “These Days.” When co-leader Scott McMicken peeled off the opening lines of third song “Shadow People,” the crowd said a collective “screw it” and immediately poured into the aisles around the band shell’s wood benches.

Fans spent the rest of the 90-minute performance crowded around the stage and dancing in the rows, as if the venue was a star-lit, breeze-caressed First Avenue with Mini-Donut beer instead of the place where Blood, Sweat & Leftovers and Creed's Scott Stapp played earlier in the fair’s run.

Hardly a typical free show at the fair, Wednesday’s concert was actually pretty standard as Dr. Dog shows go. The playfully soulful, bouncy, occasionally jammy sextet plucked highlights from throughout the last five of its seven albums, going back to 2007’s “Ain’t It Strange” on up to “The Truth,” “Too Weak to Ramble” and “Broken Heart” from last year’s rather wild collection “B-Room.”

The band messed around with some of its best-known tunes. It kicked off “That Old Black Hole” as a reggae-baked slow jam before revving it up to a dizzying rocker. The pre-encore finale “Lonesome” was also given a psychedelic edge. Best of the night was “Heavy Light,” which the band broke down mid-song into a lush little jam before building it back up beautifully into an ecstatic climax.

Apparently, the members of the group had partaken in their fair share of fair fun, too. “You got a good thing going on here,” singer/bassist Toby Leaman raved at show’s end. McMicken had seemingly eaten so much before the show he was bursting at the seams. After finishing “Heavy Light,” he confessed to the crowd, “I realized about eight bars into that song that my pants were unbuttoned.”

It was that kind of a let-yourself-go night of entertainment. Thursday's show should be a hoot, too. Here’s Wednesday’s set list:

Ain’t It Strange / These Days / Shadow People / Nellie / The Truth / The Beach / Heavy Light / Broken Heart / County Line / Shame, Shame / That Old Black Hole / Stranger / Too Weak to Ramble / Jackie Wants a Black Eye / Heart It Races / The Rabbit, the Bat & the Reindeer / Lonesome  ENCORE: Oh No

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