Prissy Clerks win at's Are You Local? bash

One was a hair-tossing, crowd-surfing hard-rock band whose four brawny members looked as if they rock the weight room as mightily as they do their amps. Another was an innovative, rowdy rapper who -- with his large, Dayglo-attired live ensemble and black-lit stage -- looked as if he were the hip-hop answer to a head shop poster rack. And then there was the rather bookwormy, immobile band that sort of looked like a laid-back staff at any Minneapolis coffee shop.

With sharply hooked songs and coolly off-kilter guitar jams, though, the Prissy Clerks more than made up for their (in this case) glaring lack of stage antics and took top honors at's Are You Local? contest Friday night at 7th Street Entry. The coed indie-rock quintet got to play a second set in the First Avenue Mainroom right after winning Friday. They will go on to play the day party at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, on March 16.

Prissy Clerks leader Clara Salyer, 19, at once beamed with pride and showed her nervousness as her band walked out as the announced winners. They were greeted mostly by cheers but also to a minor chorus of boos from fans of runners-up the Japhies, who were chanting their band's name before the winner was revealed. Nothing like a rock show turning into a high school jock rally.

The Japhies certainly had the livelier stage show. Frontman Reed Wilkerson jumped atop the crowd at the end, and bassist Matt Homan banged a floor tom in the center of the crowd during the "Black Diamond"-like "Runaway."

Rapper Xavier Marquis' set was arguably even wilder. His various backup/hype vocalists jumped around Marquis in their neon face paint, and his surprisingly metallic band pounded away, coolly mashing up Silversun Pickups' "Lazy Eye" in the set highlight "Maybe Something."

But the judges narrowly favored the less-flashy Prissy Clerks, who had their own peculiar visual charm. Their babyfaced singer/guitarist and her accordion-squeezing partner Emily Lazear, 18, made for a cute front line while the older male members stayed to the back, looking very workmanlike. They excitedly but steadily breezed through their Mainroom set despite the chaotic circumstances. The Clerks especially won over the crowd with the swirly-guitar-laced, shoegazer-pop closer "No Sir."

The best thing about the whole night was the fact that the bands were so vastly different, a trait that carried over to the rest of the Mainroom lineup. Fort Wilson Riot opened the show with its quirky, drum-machine-accompanied indie-pop, followed by the sweet, walloping garage-punk of Pink Mink. The Blind Shake made a big impression with its hard-blasting, two-guitar noise-punk. Peter Wolf Crier took a semi-maniacal tear through frazzled art-rock off last year's album "Garden of Arms."

Transplanted indie-rapper Astronautalis delivered his first full Mainroom set to close out the night. It seemed like a fitting end, as he emphasized the Twin Cities scene's anything-goes qualities -- especially during his freestyle set -- and brought out a high-profile pal from the new hood, Sims. It truly felt like he intended to answer the "Are You Local?" question.

"I'm so damn happy I moved here," Astronautalis said several times as he noticed that most of the crowd stuck it out to the end. Yes, even some of those disgruntled Japhies fans.

  • Chris Riemenschneider

Howler disses Minneapolis scene

Jordan Gatesmith, frontman of the international buzz band Howler, took some public digs at his hometown last week via the U.K. press. Speaking on the Guardian's "Music Weekly" podcast, he responded thusly when asked about the Twin Cities music scene: "Screw 'em."

"[Minneapolis] really supports its own bands, like they'll build up these bands -- no offense, Minneapolis -- that I will hate. I will completely hate," Gatesmith went on to say, singling out "gimmicky" band the 4onthefloor, describing their sound (inaccurately) as "Mumford & Sons crap" and predicting "nothing will happen outside of Minneapolis for them."

Those pointed words spurred an immediate Internet backlash. "I just think it's funny. I'm probably the same as any young musician in Minneapolis -- I like to run my mouth. That's my problem," Gatesmith told on Wednesday, adding that attacking a specific band was "poor taste." "I just think it's fucking hilarious that for some reason what I say actually matters; it fucking shouldn't."

The real issue for Gatesmith? "There's a weird press machine here that looks after its own," he opined. "There's just some talent out there that gets overlooked."

  • Jay Boller

First Ave summer fest postponed to '13

First Avenue has opted to delay its inaugural outdoor festival for one year. The highly anticipated indie-rock soiree, slated for July 20-21, will now make its debut in the summer of 2013 at the Parade Athletic Fields in Minneapolis.

"It's really a bummer, but we decided to refocus our energy on making next year as perfect as possible," said general manager Nate Kranz.

By the time the club got final approval from the City Council in December, many of the bands intended for the first First Avenue Festival had already booked their summer tour itineraries. The staff considered scaling back to a one-day fest but decided it would be best to get off to a stronger start next year. "It's not a knock on anyone -- these things just take time, and we eventually ran out of time," said Kranz.

The postponement had nothing to do with increased competition, Kranz added. Live Nation, the world's biggest concert promoter, is planning its own new festival June 23-24 on St. Paul's Harriet Island. Also, the Somerset Amphitheater in Somerset, Wis., moved up the dates of its second annual SoundTown festival to July 26-28 from late August.

"The bands we want probably aren't on their radar too much, anyway," Kranz said, noting that several of the artists in mind for this year's First Avenue fest have expressed strong interest in making it next year.

  • Chris Riemenschneider

Hello?! Poliça to open for Lionel Richie at SXSW

Poliça clearly wins the award for the Minnesota band with the strangest bedfellow on a South by Southwest 2012 bill. Minneapolis' electronic-tribal-soul band was just announced as part of Billboard magazine's official showcase in Austin, Texas, headlined by none other than Lionel Richie. The showcase will take place Wednesday at the new "Austin City Limits" studio/theater.

We seriously think Poliça could pull off a mean version of "Hello" or "Say You (Say Me)" for the show, possibly with their pal Har Mar Superstar helping out. Lionel is going to SXSW to promote a new country duets album. OK, this is getting weird.

Poliça's SXSW week was already looking to be eventful. They're part of the lineup at the IFC Crossroads House on Wednesday (with the Delta Spirit and Heartless Bastards), sets that usually wind up being televised later on IFC. They're also part of the NPR Music day party March 15 (with the Magnetic Fields), which is a live webcast.

In other SXSW news, American Express is sponsoring a just-announced showcase by some guy named Jay-Z on Monday. Also, the MOG day party on March 17 will feature the Roots and ex-Minneapolitan Bob Mould, who will perform Sugar's "Copper Blue" album in its entirety.

  • Chris Riemenschneider

Soundset announces 2012 lineup

Lupe Fiasco, Ghostface Killah & Raekwon, and budding MC Kendrick Lamar will be the featured newcomers at this year's Soundset hip-hop festival, May 27 at Canterbury Park. The lineup, released Monday by Rhymesayers Entertainment, once again features Atmosphere as the headliner, in addition to local talent P.O.S., Prof and I Self Devine. Notable omissions include A$AP Rocky and Childish Gambino, who were both the subject of Twitter wish lists in the hours leading up to the announcement. The fifth annual hip-hop spectacular will be hosted by Brother Ali, along with MaLLy and J Pratt. Tickets ($38) go on sale Saturday through

  • Jesse Mandell-McClinton

JJ's to open in Uptown

That copper-trimmed apartment building perched at the northeast corner of Lake Street and Knox Avenue S. in Uptown is about to land a new first-floor tenant: JJ's Coffee + Wine Bistro. The location was a no-brainer for co-owners and spouses Mark and Jennifer Jundt, who opened their first JJ's in Eden Prairie three years ago.

"We live in the suburbs but we go to Uptown all the time," said Mark Jundt. "We walk around Lake Calhoun a lot, so we saw the building going up and we thought it was perfect for our concept."

The couple sources a few coffee beans and has them roasted to their specifications in Cannon Falls, Minn. The craft beer program, probably six to eight taps plus two dozen bottles, ranges from hyper-local (the new Lucid Brewing in Minnetonka) to regional-national labels (Chicago's Goose Island). The wines-by-the-glass choices number into the 40s.

As for the menu, Mark Jundt describes it as "handmade but by no means gourmet, with very few words that you can't pronounce," he said with a laugh. Translation: pastries and egg sandwiches and burritos at breakfast, sandwiches and salads at lunch and bruschettas, flatbreads and cheeses in the evenings.

The Jundts plan a May opening.

  • Rick Nelson