The adage about having to go away to be missed has certainly proved true with the Blind Shake. Even among its members.
“It actually was a lot harder on me than I thought,” Mike Blaha said of his cultishly adored noise-rock trio’s two-year hiatus, which will finally end at 8:15 Saturday night when the thundering band headlines the Art-A-Whirl party outside Grumpy’s Bar in northeast Minneapolis.
The gig is just the first of three unusual/fun bookings the Blind Shake has lined up in the coming months, including an Aug. 3 set at the Armory for the ESPN Summer X Games and then an Aug. 23 pairing with “Wreck It Ralph” in the Summer Movies & Music series at the Lake Harriet Band Shell. The X Games, in particular — albeit an odd bill with Incubus — prompted the band members to think: Why not?
“It just seemed like a really fun opportunity,” said Jim Blaha, Mike’s brother and fellow guitarist/vocalist. “It was far enough off in the future. It’s here in town. There’s no animosity at all between us. Let’s just do it!”
And since they were preparing for that gig, why not take a couple other fun offers that came along?
Those decisions were really up to the Blaha brothers’ cousin and bandmate, drummer Dave Roper, who became a dad twice-over since the band hit the brakes in 2016.
With the Blahas’ dueling, sometimes surfy, always loud and experimental guitar work and Roper’s wild-abandon rhythms, the Blind Shake gained an international underground buzz throughout the 2010s that allowed them to hammer out a record nearly every year or two, and tour harder than most Twin Cities bands. It sort of seemed like the trio would always be around, especially given its familial side.
Mike said the thing he missed most during the hiatus was simply being around his brother and cousin.
“We went from probably being around each other way too much to almost never seeing each other.”
He and Jim played together for a while as Shadow in the Cracks — basically a Roper-less version of the Blind Shake. They also started their own bands, including the hazier Jim & the French Vanilla and Mike’s eponymous surf-punky group Blaha.
Jim also leads a new psychedelic pop-punk quartet called Green/Blue, featuring Birthday Suits guitarist Hideo Takahashi and former Soviettes members Annie Sparrows and Danny Henry. Both Green/Blue and Blaha (the band) also have Art-A-Whirl gigs this weekend, the latter touting a new album.
There are currently no plans for the Blind Shake to record new material, but from the sound of how the first rehearsal went last month, it could happen sooner rather than later.
“It all came back to us really surprisingly quick,” Mike said.
Added Jim, “The lyrics were a little fuzzy, but otherwise it was like we’d never quit. Especially Dave. He was playing faster and harder than ever, I think.”
One might call that the New Dad Therapy Effect.
Also back for Art-A-Whirl
The Blind Shake is not the only band that’s making a comeback this weekend:
The Goondas: Apparently there has been a standing offer from the 331 Club for this locally beloved, bluesy, damage-prone punk band to reunite every year there for AAW. “This year we talked about it and thought, ‘What the hell, might be fun,’ explained guitarist Jackson Atkins, who made it sound as if they haven’t talked since then about what if anything comes next. “We’re playing it by ear.” (7 p.m. Sunday, 331 Club/Sheridan Room.)
Unknown Prophets: Northeast Minneapolis’ own pioneering hip-hop trio, which went from playing the basement of the Dinkytowner to headlining First Avenue in the ’00s, has been mostly inactive this decade but recently came together on a whim in the studio just to mess around. They wound up with almost a whole album. “It came together crazy fast,” recounted co-emcee Mike Madison, who expects to drop at least one song over the summer and left open the possibility for more gigs. (5 p.m. Saturday, Anchor Fish & Chips.)
Calvin Krime: As if he didn’t have enough going on between his Har Mar Superstar commitments and his new boy/girl electro-pop duo Heart Bones, Sean Tillmann recently got back together with his late-’90s punk trio just to jam for fun. “We heard Fugazi does that, so we ripped them off,” Tillmann quipped. They now have new songs to blast through, and Grumpy’s was the obvious place to start, since the bar’s owners originally released CK’s music via their famed Amphetamine Reptile label. (4:30 p.m. Saturday, Grumpy’s.)