'Prince' returns, starts NPGMusicClub.com (May 16, 2000)
Everyone had a good laugh over that phallic symbol thingie as his name. After this press conference to announce he was back as Prince, though, the music industry took him very seriously again. The name-game was all to wiggle out of his contract with Warner Bros., freeing him to sell music independently via his website. In a decade when the Internet reshaped the music industry, you can once again say our Minneapolis superstar set the royal standard.
IN THE LOOP WITH DOSH (JUNE 1, 2002)
It seemed small and inconsequential at the time: Martin Dosh, the quiet drummer for experimental bands such as Lateduster, started tinkering with tape loops, drums, organ and other electronic gear to craft a surprisingly organic-sounding debut solo record. He went on to release three more acclaimed records and tour behind them as a truly solo act, then wound up helping shape Andrew Bird's live band, which kept him on the road all this year. Electronic loops and homemade albums would soon become commonplace locally.
LIFTER PULLER ENDS, TRIPLE ROCK BEGINS (JUNE 6-8, 2003)
Saying he was "nauseated" by the new Hard Rock Cafe and other gentrification in his hometown since he moved to New York two years earlier, Lifter Puller frontman Craig Finn said the opening of the Triple Rock's musical half "confirms that the scene's not lying down -- that independent music is still alive and thriving in the Twin Cities." Finn's band reunited to break in the club over three nights, and then it never played again. He and guitarist Tad Kubler returned to the club a year later with the Hold Steady.
MARK MALLMAN'S MARATHON 2 (SEPT. 4-6, 2004)
"It wasn't about anything but having an absolutely awesome time. I want you all to have a really good time in your life." That was more or less Mallman's closing statement, 52.4 hours after he first took the stage at the Turf Club. He combed through a 500-page book of lyrics and about half the musicians in town for support, earning loads of respect for being so nuts.
CONCERT FOR KARL (OCT. 21, 2004)
Cancer sadly took his life nine months later, but Soul Asylum bassist Karl Mueller at least got to enjoy this unforgettable show held in his name at the Quest (only the venue has been forgotten). It included the one and only reunion by Hüsker Dü's Grant Hart and Bob Mould, plus sets by Paul Westerberg, Golden Smog and the Gear Daddies.
FIRST AVENUE 35TH ANNIVERSARY (DEC. 14, 2005)
Still stinging from aggressive Clear Channel/Live Nation competition and an ownership battle that shut it down for three weeks the previous year, the club called on the Jayhawks, Golden Smog, Mike Watt, the Hold Steady, Curtiss A, Doomtree and many more to trumpet its standing as one of the last of the great independent rock halls. It worked: The club prospered in the second half of the decade.
PITCHFORK SPOONS UP TAPES 'N TAPES (FEB. 27, 2006)
TNT's debut record "The Loon" was darn near plucked out of obscurity straight into an international buzz bin when its record earned an 8.3 rating by Chicago-based PitchforkMedia.com. A month or two later, the band earned New York Times and Rolling Stone write-ups and played a bonanza of gigs at South by Southwest. Two years later, though, the band's nearly equal follow-up record, "Walk It Off," would be dismissed by the same blog.
THE CURRENT FLOWS (JAN. 24, 2005)
Kicking off with Atmosphere's "Shhh" -- an ode to loving where you're from -- the Current (89.3 FM) immediately showed Minnesota music the love that corporate FM stations had dismissed. A few months in, First Ave booker Nate Kranz credited the station for rising attendance, like a Low gig that drew twice as many as its previous show. A year in, national agent Jackie Nalpat said the station puts the Twin Cities "right behind New York, L.A., San Francisco and Chicago" as a city to play for touring indie-rock acts.
PRINCE'S 7/7/07 RUN (JULY 7, 2007)
It started with an only-in-Princedom concert at Macy's to hawk the singer's perfume line. The party moved to Target Center for a hearty if somewhat erratic mega-concert. The climax was the late-night gig at First Ave, where he hadn't played in 20 years. Just as the club show hit its groove about 50 minutes in, though, Minneapolis police shut it down. The singer (who had a relatively busy day) hadn't gone on until almost 3 a.m., and he had gone too far past curfew. Prince hasn't played in Minneapolis city limits since.
SOUNDSET RIDES AGAIN (MAY 24, 2009)
After bursting out of the gate the previous year with 12,000 attendees outside the Metrodome, the Soundset indie-rap festival faced a tougher race in year two when it moved out (way out!) to Canterbury Park horse track in Shakopee. Even organizers were surprised by the 15,000 turnout, mostly thanks to Rhymesayers' stable of rappers. No other local acts besides Prince would draw so well this decade.