They’ve played to 80 people at Grumpy’s, 150 at the Polish National Alliance Hall and 1,500 at First Avenue. Of all the uniquely Minneapolitan landmarks where local garage-rock unit Eleganza! has performed, though, none will compare to next week’s gig at the base of the Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture outside Walker Art Center in front of 11 million or so audience members.
“Monday Night Football’s” producers at ESPN have tapped the rowdy, guitar-blazing Minneapolis rock band to perform the iconic “MNF” theme song from that iconic location during halftime in Monday’s Vikings-Packers game, broadcasting from U.S. Bank Stadium.
Bassist Tony Zaccardi – who also happens to own another legendary spot in town, Palmer’s Bar – said the group got the invite a few weeks ago and has been hard at work learning the theme. One thing they learned is that the theme even has a name: “Heavy Action.”
“We’re probably going to be playing it for the rest of our lives after this,” joked Zaccardi, who said the band isn’t nervous about the gig, “just kind of dumbfounded.”
They will pre-tape the performance on Sunday. Coincidentally, Palmer’s is hosting its customer appreciation party Monday night, virtually in the shadow of the Vikings’ stadium on the West Bank. “It seems fitting to watch it there,” Zaccardi said.
The ESPN crew has done these localized performances of the “MNF” theme in several other recent cities. During last month’s Vikings-Seahawks game, for instance, a local Seattle band got about a half-minute of airtime playing the theme at the city’s venerable rock club the Tractor Tavern. Another group did it on the National Mall during a Redskins game.
“Heavy Action” is actually a good term to describe Eleganza!, especially when it has its horn section in tow, as it will for national television.
Led by former Chooglin’ and Midnight Evils singer/guitarist Brian Vanderwerf, the hard-boogying, semi-twangy group is wrapping up a winning year that included performing the Stones’ classic double-LP “Exile on Main Street” in its entirety this time last year, dropping their debut album “Full Length” in February and tearing up the Roots, Rock & Deep Blues Fest in July. They’re heading into the studio again next month. Action-packed, indeed.