The real fireworks at Starkey gala
You've probably heard how underwhelming Katy Perry's star turd, er, turn was at the Starkey Hearing Foundation gala on Sunday. But the other music performers seized their moments. Gene Simmons was riotously rocking on his lone song, Kiss' "Rock 'n' Roll All Nite." 2Cellos got a rousing reception for their three instrumentals — U2's "With or Without You," Coldplay's "Viva La Vida (When I Ruled the World)" and Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal." And Matt Nathanson made the most of his three numbers. For one of them, "Headphones," he donated to Starkey the money his record label gave him to make a video and went on a Starkey mission to outfit kids in Peru with free hearing aids. The self-deprecating singer-songwriter admitted that probably nobody in the black-tie crowd knew who he was and if anybody did, it was probably because of the song he was about to sing. Recognizing that there were children in the audience, Nathanson predicted, "This song is why I won't get asked back to the Starkey gala again." The song: "Come On Get Higher."
A pickup gig
The new blue sign along County Road 16 near Minnehaha Creek in Minnetonka might seem like a joke at first: "Adopt-a-Highway / Next 1.5 Miles Thanks to the Suicide Commandos Punk Rock Band." But the sign is as real as the house fire used in a music video near the site in 1977. "We certainly made a big enough mess around there in our younger years, it's time we made up for it," laughed Suicide Commandos guitarist/vocalist Chris Osgood, who lives nearby but also spent three wild years crashing and rehearsing in the area in a rundown house with bandmate Dave Ahl. The Minnetonka Fire Department demolished the place with a controlled fire in 1977 — used as the backdrop for the Commandos' "Burn It Down" video by filmmaker Chuck Statler of Devo visual fame. Osgood and his pals are serious about keeping the road clean for the next two years. "We have our green reflective safety vests now," Osgood told I.W. "It might be our next album cover." That, too, sounds like Devo-related imagery.
In his new job as director of Pivot Art + Culture in Seattle, Ben Heywood expects some differences from the Soap Factory, the funky warehouse art venue he ran for nearly 13 years in Minneapolis. With just two galleries filling a mere 4,000 square feet, Pivot will be considerably smaller than the sprawling Soap Factory. But as part of the new Allen Institute for Brain Science in a tech and bio-med hub, Pivot will have "slightly enhanced facilities," compared with the raw-timbered and marginally heated Soap, Heywood said wryly. No doubt. Launched by Microsoft billionaire Paul G. Allen, Pivot will mix "alternative programming with traditional museum practices" when it opens this winter, Heywood said. "We want to produce exhibitions that people like and enjoy that also have great artistic integrity." Also, 40 landscape paintings from Allen's collection — including masterpieces by J.M.W. Turner, Claude Monet and Gustav Klimt — will be shown next year in "Seeing Nature" at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.
Take me out to the Blowout
After calling off their popular annual Blowout concerts last December, members of the Twin Cities hip-hop farm team Doomtree are urging fans to hit St. Paul's new minor league ballpark Oct. 3 for a one-day festival they hope will become another tradition. Dubbed the Doomtree Zoo, it will be the second concert at the St. Paul Saints' CHS Field. Unlike last month's Dr. John show, though, fans will get to spread out on the ballpark's plush new grass and settle in for eight hours of music. Other acts scheduled include Aesop Rock with Rob Sonic, Open Mike Eagle, Trash Talk, Shabazz Palaces and Twin Cities cohorts Aby Wolf, Anonymous Choir and Koo Koo Kanga Roo. Doomtree, of course, will headline, topping off a steady year of touring behind its third all-crew album, "All Hands." Tickets go on sale Saturday at 11 a.m. via Doomtree.net for $35. "When we walked into the stadium, it was just kind of a 'ta-dah!' moment," said Doomtree producer/beatmaker Lazerbeak, who pointed at plans to "spread the fun all over the ballpark with pop-up shows and other clever ways to incorporate the different areas."
Finishing Flynn's book
Before he died of cancer in 2013, bestselling writer and St. Paul native Vince Flynn was unable to finish "The Survivor," the Mitch Rapp political thriller he was working on. The book was eventually completed by his fellow bestselling author Kyle Mills, and will be published this fall. Flynn's family, friends and editor will join Mills and local media celebs including Flynn's close pal Frank Vascellaro, Tom Barnard and Dan Barreiro to mark the occasion with a fundraiser for St. Thomas Academy, Flynn's old school. Tickets range from $50 to $1,000. The event will be held Oct. 6 in the arena at the Vincent J. Flynn Hall at the academy.