Welcome to Artcetera. Arts-and-entertainment writers and critics post movie news, concert updates, people items, video, photos and more. Share your views. Check it daily. Remain in the know. Contributors: Mary Abbe, Aimee Blanchette, Jon Bream, Tim Campbell, Colin Covert, Laurie Hertzel, Tom Horgen, Neal Justin, Claude Peck, Rohan Preston, Chris Riemenschneider, Graydon Royce, Randy Salas and Kristin Tillotson.

Ike Reilly gives thanks with free 18-song download

Posted by: Chris Riemenschneider under Music, Concert news Updated: November 18, 2014 - 9:13 AM

With his annual Thanksgiving Eve gig just around the corner, Ike Reilly has prepared a feast for his Twin Cities contingent and anyone else who wants to get in on the party. The Irish-eyed workingman’s indie-rocker and his Libertyville, Ill.-based band the Ike Reilly Assassination have cooked up an 18-song collection and made it available as a free download today.

Titled “Am I Still the One for You?,” the bulky set features four new songs off the IRA’s overdue follow-up to 2009’s “Hard Luck Stories.” The other 14 tracks hail from their prior records, including an alternate version of “Hip-Hop Thighs #17” off the group’s classic 2001 effort for Universal’s Republic Records, “Salesmen & Racists” (newly dubbed “Hip-Hop Thighs #16” for the 2010 outtakes set “Poison the Hit Parade”).

 “The four new songs will hopefully tide fans over who’ve been waiting for them, and the rest will maybe attract new fans,” Reilly explained by phone from Libertyville last week. Among his other going-ons of late, Reilly performed at a rally for striking teachers in nearby Waukegan and played a gig with a new trio, Cops and Clergy.

However, his priority has been finishing off the new IRA album, “Born on Fire,” which is due out on vinyl in April and digitally in May.  “We worked hard on it, and obviously I think it’s very good,” he said. The record features Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine shredding on one song, “Paradise Lane,” and the IRA’s Twin Cities-based women back-up singers, the Assassinettes, are heard throughout.

Among the new songs heard on the free set available today is the vaguely ominous, organ-infused “Hangin’ Around,” a video for which debuted last year with footage from the Turf Club’s Clown Lounge. The other three free new tunes include the sly, slide-guitar-laden rocker “Upper Mississippi River Girl,” the moodier “Good Looking Boy” (full lyric: "It's a hard time to be a good looking boy") and the opening title track “Am I Still the One for You?”

Reilly and Co. return for their 12th straight holiday warm-up/blow-out Wednesday at First Avenue with local openers American Scarecrows and Sam Cassidy (8:30 p.m. Wed., $15, tickets here).

Twin Cities rockers Babes in Toyland will finally reunite – but in L.A.

Posted by: Chris Riemenschneider under Music, Concert news, Minnesota musicians Updated: November 17, 2014 - 11:14 AM
Babes in Toyland in the mid-1990s. From left: Lori Barbero, Kat Bjelland and Maureen Herman. / Photo by Bill Phelps

Babes in Toyland in the mid-1990s. From left: Lori Barbero, Kat Bjelland and Maureen Herman. / Photo by Bill Phelps

The news that Babes in Toyland fans have been waiting for since June – though not exactly the news hometown fans were hoping for – the grunge-era punk queens have finally announced their first reunion show at the Roxy in Los Angeles on Feb. 12. Any plans for a Minneapolis gig or further dates are under wraps for now.

In a press release announcing the Roxy gig – tickets for which go on sale Friday – frontwoman Kat Bjelland expressed her excitement about getting to play for a new generation of fans who grew up on the Babes’ widespread influence. This will be their first performance in 18 years.

“It was brought to my attention that not only do we have a lot of diehard fans from back in the day, but also a whole new generation of kids -- my son Henry included -- that were eager to see us live,” Bjelland said. "I felt some kind of obligation for them to see us, too. But mainly, I just missed my girls and the feeling that comes from playing with them -- visceral live therapy."

The band members, also including drummer Lori Barbero and bassist Maureen Herman, did an exclusive interview with Rolling Stone that is expected to be posted on Tuesday. Herman also talked with a blog she writes for, BoingBoing.net, which has a photo of the trio rocking out in a rehearsal space.

Bjelland and Herman first hinted that plans for the reunion were taking shape in June when they did an interview at a college radio station in Pasadna, Calif. Barbero then added her approval with a hint of hesitency. She and Bjelland, the band's co-founders, had a falling out in the mid-'00s when Bjelland improperly used the band name with other musicians on a U.K. tour. Thankfully, though, that seems to be old news now.

Coincidentally or not, Barbero just moved back to Minneapolis earlier this month after several years residing in Austin, Texas. Bjelland also still lives here. Herman now calls Los Angeles home, and it was from there where the band posted rehearsal photos this fall, adding to the reunion buzz.


The Decemberists will play Northrop in March

Posted by: Chris Riemenschneider under Music, Concert news Updated: November 17, 2014 - 10:22 AM
The Decemberists' new album arrives Jan. 20. / Photo by Audtumn de Wilde

The Decemberists' new album arrives Jan. 20. / Photo by Audtumn de Wilde

Last seen in town the same night as Super Bowl XLV in 2011 –  few other bands could’ve gotten away with that scheduling conflict -- the Decemberists will make Minneapolis the first stop outside their native Portland, Ore., on their U.S. tour next spring, playing Northrop Auditorium on March 24. Tickets go on sale Friday at noon for one (reasonable) price, $36, through the University of Minnesota's ticket system or by phone at 612-624-2345.

The poetic folk-rockers’ first album since 2011, “What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World,” will drop two months before the gig on Jan. 20. Frontman Colin Meloy -- who memorably told his non-jocky crowd, “I think it’s time they go for a free-throw,” as the Super Bowl played out off stage last time – worked on many projects outside the band during its hiatus, including a children’s book, Kinks cover album and a fun spot in a Bob Mould video.

A co-vocalist on the band's 2009 "Hazards of Love" tour, Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond is in town tonight to perform at the Cedar Cultural Center (click here for our interview with her). Worden and fellow Diamond gal Becky Stark were the ones who belted out "Crazy on You" when the Decemberists headlined Rock the Garden that year.

Here's the first track issued from the new Decemberists album, "Make You Better."

After Friday's alluring Fine Line gig, FKA Twigs headed to Paisley Park

Posted by: Chris Riemenschneider under Music, Concert news Updated: November 15, 2014 - 10:09 AM

Prince was not in attendance for British dance-pop contortionist FKA Twigs’ Twin Cities debut Friday night at the Fine Line, and why would he be? She’s coming to his place instead on Saturday.

The Paisley Park and 3rdEyeGirl social media channels announced mid-day Friday she would perform at his Chanhassen compound the night after her sold-out Twin Cities debut (doors at 9:30 p.m., $35 cover, click here for more info). You know, Princey, the Fine Line folks probably would’ve put you on the guest list for their show. Fans certainly are happy he’s having her and everyone else over, though, since Friday’s concert sold out well in advance, and a good chunk of the mostly under-30 crowd appeared enamored enough with her to want to trek out to Paisley.

She certainly is alluring, and not just in the way new boyfriend Robert Pattinson no doubt appreciates. Born Tahliah Barnett – she got the “Twigs” nickname as a kid because of her lanky body -- the 24-year-old Gloucestershire native performed for an hour Friday and never really stood still physically or musically. Her body twisted and turned as frequently and snakishly as her music did.

A trained ballerina who got her pop music start in videos for Jessie J and Kylie Minogue, she danced throughout her set even though her songs often weren’t overtly danceable. The beats were often slow and hypnotic -- like a Sade record played by minimalist electro-rockers the XX -- and would suddenly fade out or get manipulated into a warped, wavering sound, as did her whispery siren vocals. Her three band members spent much of the show tinkering on electronic drum pads, though two of them also alternated between bass and guitar.

After her album’s ethereal opening track “Preface” -- with the haunting refrain “I hate myself” – Barnett and the show itself seemed to lingered hesitantly through the off-kilter, click-clacky “Lights On” and earlier track “Ache.” Things finally turned more electric and animated with her breakout track “Water Me,” in which she slowly kicked into her bendy, ballet-meets-fly-girl dance moves while singing in a hushed tone, “He won’t make love to me.”

The tempos and the mood of the music picked up from there with the more melodic gem “Pendulum” and ultra-throbby crowd favorite “Video Girl,” in which her bandmates all worked their electronic beat machines like mad scientists. Even at its peak, the concert's energy level never really got above a lucid, dreamy state -- which worked fine in a small club with moody lighting but could make her less-than-optimal for festivals.

Wearing a black cut-out bodysuit adorned with gold studs, Barnett kept up a mysterious, mystical façade for most of the show but did stop to thank the crowd twice, saying, “I’ve never been here before. It’s wonderful to get to go somewhere new and have so many of you show up.” Fans down front reached out to touch her winding hands, but the only time Barnett reached back was to turn off the cell phone of a young woman standing at the front of the stage texting – which she did so coolly, casually mid-song without stopping the performance. Looks like she and Prince will probably have a lot in common.

Brian Setzer rocks his town with early Christmas present

Posted by: Jon Bream under Music, Minnesota musicians Updated: November 15, 2014 - 2:24 AM

“Merry Christmas,” Brian Setzer told the sell-out crowd Friday at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis. Look, it’s not even Thanksgiving and he’s sincerely wishing everyone “Merry Christmas.” That’s because it was opening night of the annual 28-city holiday tour by the Brian Setzer Orchestra.

That’s how Setzer pays for his pomade, so he has to play the yule role when he kicks off the tour in his hometown, where he rehearsed with his 17-piece ensemble for two days. He dressed up the stage with Christmas trees, tinsel, stockings, presents, Santa, Mr. Grinch and snazzy outfits for himself, his musicians and backups singers, the Vixens..

Even if you consider this celebration too early (who buys poinsettias in mid-November?), you won’t find a more energetic, exciting and musical holiday concert than what the Brian Setzer Orchestra delivered for 110 minutes.

To be sure, a handful of selections were not holiday fare. Setzer has to do some Stray Cats hits (“Rock This Town,” “Stray Cat Strut”) as well as his own hit “Jump Jive and Wail.” Plus he did one number from his brand new rockabilly album in addition to a gorgeous interpretation of “Sleep Walk” (the Santo and Johnny instrumental hit from 1959) and a killer version of the Johnny Cash classic “Ring of Fire,” complete with mariachi trumpets.

No one comes up with more imaginative arrangements for yule music than Setzer and BSO (he has released four Christmas albums). “Sleigh Ride” traveled at practically NASCAR speed. “Angels We Have Heard on High” was mostly a hard-charging instrumental. In “Jingle Bells,” he rode in a ’57 Chevrolet. And never has the “Nutcracker Suite” sounded more playful.

Setzer also offered some obscure holiday ditties, including “Boogie Woogie Santa,” that fit his sound and style perfectly. Plus he did some original Christmas tunes, including “Fishnet Stockings,” which was a rockabilly riot.

What tied these tunes together were the contagious spirit of the musicians and Setzer’s outstanding guitar work. Whether he was jazzy, twangy, classically inclined, surf-styled, rockin’ or whatever, it was the gift that kept on giving. 


Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters