On April 20, the Minneapolis Cedar Cultural Center looked like a musical instrument yard sale. The elevated wood stage held a multitude of instruments staggered across the platform. From guitars, violins, tambourines, cellos, and a logging saw the small stage was crammed with dormant instruments waiting to be brought to life.
Headlining the evening with airy folk tunes was the Portland native band Horse Feathers. Their performance acted as a makeshift CD release show as their new album “Thistled Spring” hit stores the very same day. Confidently stepping on stage, the band went straight into their set filling the Cedar’s venue with the sound of traditional Americana. The band’s elaborate instrumentation brought the prairie to the city. Lead singer Justin Ringle’s smooth voice contrasted ideally with the harmonies provided by the talents of Nathan Crockett, Catherine Odell, and Sam Cooper. Each guitar chord paired perfectly with the composition of the string instruments and subtle drum beats making the music of Horse Feathers the perfect companion for an open road adventure. The band’s talent was as brilliant as their economical use of instruments. From stomping on a tambourine, adding a subtle jingle to their set, to grazing the end of a logging saw with a violin bow, the band provided the audience with a refreshing sound Tuesday evening.
Minneapolis natives Caroline Smith and Jesse Schuster opened the night by breaking the silence of the intimate venue with acoustic melodies and rustic harmonies. Releasing Live at Cedar, a stripped down, live, acoustic album earlier this year, the duo was no stranger to the Cedar stage. Both members sounded in their prime, even with Jesse admitting he had been struck with the flu only days prior to the evening’s show. Performing familiar tunes such as “Closing the Doors” and “Tying My Shoes” the pair also performed a few new songs for the small crowd at the Cedar. Keeping in line with their folk, acoustic, and honest sound, the newest additions to their set list are sure to start making a stir among the Minneapolis music scene. Caroline and Jesse will be hitting the road with Horse Feathers as they continue their tour across the country.
On an unusually warm Saturday evening this April, I was packed into a crowded Gustavus Adolphus Hockey arena. Through the Ed Hardy and cubic zirconium studded crowd I was able to spy one Lupe Fiasco.
Every year Gustavus Adolphus College, or as it is affectionately known GAC, holds a concert for its students and opens it to the public. GAC’s past concerts have included performers such as Ben Folds, but this year they hosted the college radio favorite Lupe Fiasco. Lupe visited the small town of St. Peter as part of his Steppin’ Lasers tour.
Opening for Lupe was the Twin Cities’ own Unknown Prophets, a duo consisting of MaD SoN and Big Jess. The Prophets’ set was great and used their relatively unique sound of metal and rap to build up to Lupe’s opening. They also hyped Minnesota pride that acted as a good contrast with Lupe’s international acclaim. The only pitfall of the concert: the crowd.
Most concertgoers were present to hear Fiasco’s handful of uber-famous songs such as “Daydreamin”, “Superstar”, and “Kick, Push”. This dynamic between fans and infrequent followers, while not ideal, didn’t harm the overall experience. The energy that Lupe and his band gave off was infectious. New songs and old had everyone in the crowd getting down. Not only did Lupe set the bar but his band mates stepped it up with hard guitar riffs, intense drum beats, and scratchin’ on the turntables.
Lupe also debuted some of his new material. One song, “Beautiful Lasers”, was noticeably different from songs such as “Go Go Gadget Flow” and he cited the fact that he was “really f*#cked up” for a long period and the energy from that time went into this song. Although darker, the energy of the entire concert was phenomenal and included fan participation two audience members were invited onstage due to the fact that they had “We Are Lasers” tattooed on their biceps in homage to Lupe. The show culminated with some words of wisdom about the power of education from Lupe: quite the collegiate experience.
The seven-hour car ride from Minneapolis to Chicago was well worth the journey to see one of Britain’s most talented artists, Florence and the Machine. As many of you know, I’ve been dying to see FATM ever since I heard “Kiss With A Fist.” When I found out she was only making six or so stops in the U.S. on her Spring/Summer 2010 tour I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
Florence Welch appeared fearlessly on stage looking like she was ready for bed, or a sacrifice… in her all black get-up entailing a lace shawl, a loosely fitting lace dress which she paired with black satin shorts that zipped up the back and to top off the outfit, a Finn Andrews-esque hat. If the costume turns you off then her voice will most assuredly turn you back on. Welch has sensational vocals and tucked in her voice box is the ability to do all of those fancy improvised runs most mainstream artists tend to overdo. Welch’s soft exterior is the antithesis of her tortuously beautiful descants that pierces the entire space and shoot directly over the band which was was why opening with “Howl” was the most appropriate to give the crowd a glimpse of what was to come. Then the six- piece Machine played the poppy, upbeat first single off of Lungs, “Kiss With A Fist” which was a big crowd-pleaser.
The Machine was able to accommodate the ferociously boisterous stage presence of Ms. Welch by contributing smartly planned out arrangements and cool harmonies from the drummer, Chris. FATM’s live show didn’t phase them one bit, and just paid serious heed to the studio version of the album. Around mid-set a little known track off of the deluxe edition of Lungs called, “Hardest of Hearts” was played which Florence explained to be one of her favorite songs that didn’t make the cut. For the percussion pushed “Drumming Song” and “Cosmic Love” the bass player was added to the mix on a smaller drum set, along with Florence on her little-drummer-boy snare placed at center stage.
Luckily, Florence is already a master at the art of the grand pause and she brings a level of drama to the room with her quirky gestures and frantic motions that kept everyone on the edges of their seats straight through to the encore where they played “You’ve Got The Love,” which I managed to capture a pretty good video (please excuse the crazy lady next to me, she was so in love with Florence and made sure everyone around her knew it) and the show ended on a high note with the help of the crowd, on cult favorite “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up).”
I even managed to snag a Set List:
kiss with a fist
hardest of hearts
got the love
Written by Rachel Summers
The rumors will soon be put to rest as the official line up for the 2010 Lollapalooza Festival in Grant Park will be confirmed tomorrow. Many big names (and Dustbowl favorites) and been leaked; here are a few of the acts that I am getting really excited about…
- The xx
- Dirty Projectors
- Green Day
- Arcade Fire
- The Strokes
- The Temper Trap
- Frightened Rabbit
- The National
- The New Pornographers
- Grizzly Bear
- Matt & Kim
- Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
- Blitzen Trapper
- Minus the Bear
So much more… check back at the Lollapalooza site tomorrow for the complete official results.
— Haley Rheinhart —
Last Thursday I ran into Caroline Smith (of Caroline Smith and the Good Night Sleeps) at the Electric Fetus playing a small acoustic set with band mate, Jesse Schuster.
After the release of Backyard Tent Set last year, I’ve wondered if we could expect something new from Caroline anytime soon. The Minneconomy Session (also featuring Romantica) also served as the CD release for a live album Smith and Schuster recorded at the Cedar Cultural Center. Along with some familiar tracks from Tent Set the live album also features five new ones all in the folk-y, youthful Sleeps spirit that I enjoy so much about them. One of these new tracks, “Denim Boy”, is currently streaming on their Myspace. Give it a listen.
— Haley Rheinhart —
First off for the night was Sara Lov. Due to reasons unknown, Sara could not tour with her band. Because of this misfortune, she made do with singing and playing alongside a vinyl recording of the band. The best way to sum this up is by saying she made the best out of a bad situation. Even the greatest professional can come off sounding amateur without a live band. Sara Lov is a very talented musician, but this show did not express that in any meaningful way to me.
Port O’Brian is a great little band from California, and if you haven’t heard them yet, hop to it! Think Arcade Fire, but less orchestrated and dirtier. Yes, I know, that description makes them sound nothing like Arcade Fire, but the thing about music is you just have to listen to it.
I have to say that their song “Fisherman’s Son” stood out from the rest as a nice, heartfelt, thoughtful acoustic song that deserved to be highlighted more. They concluded their performance with the song “I Woke Up Today” in which they handed out pots, pans, and various other cookery devices to the audience and had us just beat the hell out of them to the music. I am a sucker for audience involvement and it was the high point of my night.
… Until Sea Wolf hit the stage.
Now, with this band, the live experience is completely different than the recorded one. Not better or worse, just different. The energy flowed differently and somehow, frontman Alex Brown Church, managed to forge a connection with every single person in the Entry.
With a band as talented as Sea Wolf, it is hard to even imagine a bad song selection, and they didn’t fail to deliver. They mixed in a lot of stuff off of their new album “White Water, White Bloom.”
My favorite track off of the new album was a heartfelt acoustic version of “Orion & Dog,” but “Wicked Blood,” a rhythmic throwback to their last album, also really got my blood pumping. And of course they played their defining song, “You’re a Wolf,” as the encore.
Harrison R. Gabe