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Kate Nash, the 26-year-old, platinum-selling singer-songwriter from Great Britain, stopped at Minneapolis ad agency Carmichael Lynch in downtown Minneapolis for a three-song acoustic set on Wednesday. She and her band are due at First Avenue Wednesday night.
The agency gig included a song each from each of her three albums, including "Fri-end?" (from "Girl Talk") "Kiss that Grrrl" (from "My Best Friend is You") and "Foundations" (from "Made of Bricks").
Between songs, Nash talked about loving the songs of Harrry Nilsson as a girl growing up, and turning to music to escape a job at a fast-food restaurant. Asked about the inspiration for her song "Dickhead," she said she wrote it about being bullied by some mean girls as a teenager. Bush talked about her love of Quentin Tarantino movies (after "a terrible breakup" she watched his "Death Proof" over and over) and her work to raise awareness of a gender gap in the music industry, including time spent in schools encouraging teen girls to become songwriters.
Even Deerhunteristas prone to love everything that comes from Bradford Cox and his band (and given the prolific output of Cox, his side-project Atlas Sound and guitarist Lockett Pundt and his side project, Lotus Plaza, that’s a lot) seemed at a loss during sizable chunks of the group’s Sept. 9 show at the Fine Line in Minneapolis.
After a punky, almost Tragic Mulatto-ish opening set by Marnie Stern, Cox hit the stage in a Cramps T-shirt and a moppy black wig that looked like it might have been sported by Liz Taylor at the bitter end of a lost weekend.
The concert’s beginning, like parts of its middle and end, featured not songs from Deerhunter’s hot 2013 “Monomania” CD, not songs from the critical-darling “Halcyon Digest” (2010) and “Microcastle” (2008) CDs, but rather percussive tape loops and pain-inducing squalls of pulsating feedback.
In a decision that can’t have been made with the audience in mind, maybe 30 minutes of the 2-hour stage time was devoted to feedback. During these intervals, fans mostly stood stock still, unsure whether to head for the exits, stab themselves in the ear or remain in place for the moment when a chord or rim shot signalled an actual song.
Cox didn’t disappoint those who like their indie-rock demiurges to keep the show in showbiz. No thrift-store dresses for him on this hot night, but he did some crotch grabbing, shook a pair of maracas during the song “T.H.M.,” rolled around on the floor a good deal, drooled copiously, balanced his spindly 6’4” frame atop the bass drum, ripped his wig off, and jumped into the crowd to chase a rambunctious fan who grabbed his wig at another moment.
Deerhunter did reveal its sensitive-side artistry in the guitar-drums-songwriting departments. Cox was at his plaintive, vulnerable best on such older songs as “Agoraphobia” (“come for me, cover me, comfort me….”), where the tender lyric is washed and rinsed by three guitars, and the chug-ahead and tuneful “Nothing Ever Happened.”
Of the songs from “Monomania,” Deerhunter and Cox lit the fuse most convincingly on the title track and on “T.H.M,” with its sparkling arpeggio opening for lead guitar.
The “down South boogie” section of the evening had its moments, sounding like Allman Brothers on both speed and acid, but went on too long. Same goes for the ultra-repetitive final number, when I alternated between feeling sorry for myself and pitying the excellent drummer, Moses Archuleta, who appeared bound for the RSI clinic.
Bright Eyes frontman Conor Oberst (looking like Tobey Maguire, in his new bowl cut) and his band Desaparecidos were loud and political at First Avenue on Wednesday. They opened a blistering hour-long concert with two newish singles -- “Left is Right,” an Occupy movement anthem, and “Underground.” Other loud fast (and short) tunes touched on immigration (“Marikkkopa”), the jaded music industry (“Backsell”) and the plight of the minimum-wage worker (“Anonymous”).
News of local interest: Oberst said the band had spent the past 10 days near Battle Lake, Minnesota, working on four new songs.
“I’ve never spent this much time in Minnesota; it’s beautiful here,” he said. The crowd didn’t get to hear any of the new songs, as they weren’t ready yet, Oberst said. He praised the Battle Lake restaurant Stella’s, and the restaurant owners were at the concert, reportedly showing photos of them with Oberst and talking about several nights they all spent in a local karaoke bar.
They tore through 15 songs, seven from their only full-length, 2002’s “Read Music/Speak English,” including “Mall of America” and “Greater Omaha.” The 5-piece band -- Landon Hedges (bass and vocals), Matt Baum (big-ass drums), Denver Dalley (hair-flippin’ and guitar) and Ian McElroy (keyboards) -- sounded well-rehearsed and cracklin’, especially for a group that has spent so much time apart as Oberst has pursued his various side-projects.
In just over an hour onstage, Oberst name-checked Julian Assange and the Minnesota State Fair, decried the Obama administration’s zealous pursuit of national-security leakers, and said “there’s not much music in the music business, it’s mostly business.”
Here’s what Desaparecidos played:
Left Is Right, Underground Man, Happiest Place on Earth, Manana, Financial Planning, Mall of America, Backsell, Damaged Goods, Camila, Survival, $$$, Greater Omaha, MariKKKopa, Anonymous, Hole in One.
For Leslie Plesser's show photos, go here.
Stream "Anonymous" and other songs here.
It’s not exactly on par with “Purple Rain,” but First Avenue nightclub is featured prominently in a new Dawes music video that premiered today.
The clip for “Most People” shows footage from before, after and during the Los Angeles rockers’ sold-out two-night stand in Minneapolis earlier this month. Among the highlights is a scene of the band members posing with fans under the star outside the venue. There’s also a short blast of the club staff cleaning up the cups and beer cans off the dance floor after the show (always an impressive feat if you’ve never hung around to see it).
While there’s a little footage from other venues, too -- including the Cat's Cradle in Carborro, N.C., and Grimey's in Nashville (not that we care!) -- most of the video centers around First Ave. Dawes has repeatedly stated its love for the club and the Twin Cities on the whole, which still ranks as its No. 1 market. This should only add to the mutual love.
Downtown Minneapolis’s mainstay rock club the Fine Line Music Café has been sold to the owners of velvet-rope dance and drink bars Aqua and Elixir. The deal has been in the works for months and was finally confirmed in a short notice tacked onto the club’s website. It reads:
The Fine Line Music Café will be under new ownership and management efffective August 6th. The new business will be part of Minneapolis Event Centers operated by Entourage Events Group.
Talking about the pending deal a few weeks ago, Fine Line owner Dario Anselmo listed several reasons why he wanted to unload the club. They included the fact that he recently turned 50 (“I’m too old to run a club,” he quipped) to the loss of the club’s longtime talent booker Kim King last summer (who switched to the Cabooze and tour managing).
He also detailed his love/hate relationship with the Warehouse District, where many bars and restaurants have come and gone in recent years despite the construction of Target Field. Anselmo still owns the building that houses the Fine Line and will thus be involved in a landlord capacity.
“I’ve tried for a long time not to be pessimistic about the Warehouse District, but it’s hard to be optimistic anymore,” said Anselmo, a former president of the Warehouse District Business Association.
Calls to the club’s new owners, brothers Jado and Steve Hark, have not been returned. Anselmo said the Harks hope to continue the Fine Line’s live music tradition, but they also plan to ramp up the private-party business there. Corporate events and private shindigs are a cornerstone of the Harks’ Entourage Events Group and a staple at their other clubs.
“Those guys have more experience on [the private party] front than I did, and that’s essential,” Anselmo said, noting that the nearby Epic nightclub and the Varsity Theater largely owe their longevity to private events and not their live music calendar. Said Anselmo, “The live music business has gotten to be pretty expensive one to be in.”
One key element to the Fine Line remaining a vital live music venue is its relationship with First Avenue, which has booked many of the noteworthy gigs there in recent years and is behind such upcoming dates as Jake Bugg, Murder by Death and Deerhunter. First Ave general manager Nate Kranz said he met with the Harks informally on Thursday and is planning a sit-down meeting Wednesday.
“My first impression is they’re excited to continue working with us, and we’re looking at it as business-as-usual,” said Kranz, who added, “I think they have good ideas, and some new energy there could reinvent the place.” Kranz also praised Anselmo’s tenure at the club: “It’s not easy running a club day-to-day, but he did it for a long time.”
Nineteen years, in fact. Anselmo took over the club in 1993 from Ruth Whitney Bowe (wife of guitarist Kevin Bowe), who opened it in 1987. Under Anselmo’s watch, the Fine Line hosted everyone from George Clinton to President Bill Clinton, and from Sheryl Crow and Maroon 5 to the Pixies, who played their first-ever reunion gig there in 2004. In recent years, it has welcomed more and more hip-hop gigs by the likes of Prof, Sims, the Geto Boys and (just two weekends ago) El-P and Killer Mike. The club even survived a fire in 2003, the same week of the tragic inferno at a Great White concert in Rhode Island. Thankfully, no one at the Fine Line was hurt.
“It’s a tough business, and getting tougher,” Anselmo said, “but regardless of that, this is really mostly about changing things up for me personally.”
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