Hill House Chamber Players

The Hill House Chamber Players, musicians from the Minnesota Orchestra and University of Minnesota faculty, perform in the intimate space of the art gallery of the historic James J Hill House on Summit Ave in Saint Paul. The Hill House Chamber Players are Julie Ayer, violin; Tanya Remenikova, cello; Thomas Turner, viola; and Mary Jo Gothmann, piano.

Admission includes an optional 6:45pm pre-concert conversation with musicians and music blogger Emily Hogstad, intermission refreshments, and a post-performance tour of the magnificent Gilded Age mansion, home to one of St. Paul’s most famous families.

Tickets are $23 for general public and $12 for students. Learn more at schubert.org.

Hill House Chamber Players

The Hill House Chamber Players, musicians from the Minnesota Orchestra and University of Minnesota faculty, perform in the intimate space of the art gallery of the historic James J Hill House on Summit Ave in Saint Paul. The Hill House Chamber Players are Julie Ayer, violin; Tanya Remenikova, cello; Thomas Turner, viola; and Mary Jo Gothmann, piano.

Admission includes an optional 6:45pm pre-concert conversation with musicians and music blogger Emily Hogstad, intermission refreshments, and a post-performance tour of the magnificent Gilded Age mansion, home to one of St. Paul’s most famous families.

Tickets are $23 for general public and $12 for students. Learn more at schubert.org.

Masters of Arena Rock: Why sound engineers are to thank for the ultimate concert experience

Tom Petty performing at ________ // Photo by Nate Ryan, MPR

Tom Petty performing at the Xcel Energy Center on June 3, 2017 in St. Paul, Minnesota // Photo by Nate Ryan, MPR

There are few experiences as memorable as attending your first concert in an arena. You enter the doors of a cavernous dome and squint to find the section and row of your seat on your ticket. You take your seat, the lights dim, and the rumble of bass being pumped through a dozen loud speakers pounds in your chest.

Before this sound reaches your body, it must travel through a complex system of electrical equipment—the sound system—that allows engineers to manipulate how the sound emanating from stage is delivered to the audience. But before any sound equipment is brought into an arena, engineers must first determine the venue’s acoustics.

“In the arena, the main goal is to make everybody understand and hear everything perfectly,” says Herbie Woodruff, crew chief and sound engineer at Target Center. To accomplish this, there are a few obstacles that engineers must overcome first.

Arenas, by nature, are large spaces designed for seating thousands of people. As such, sound must be delivered at loud volumes so that it has enough energy to reach its destination. However, loud sounds and large spaces create the perfect mix for reverberation—a sound engineer’s nemesis.

When sound hits a hard surface like a concrete wall, it reflects rather than absorbs. As it bounces back into the arena it creates an echo, which makes the space louder and muddies the sound quality. Xcel Energy Center combats sound reflection by utilizing an open design, explains Mark Anger, facilities development project manager for Minnesota Sports and Entertainment. The open suites let sound pass through unobstructed, and the open concourse (there are no walls separating the arena’s concourse from its bowl) drastically reduces the amount of reflective surfaces.

Further enhancing Xcel’s sound quality are the acoustic panels covering the walls. Each panel consists of a layer of insulation encased by perforated metal sheets, creating a porous surface that absorbs sound rather than reflects it. Acoustic banners called lapendary panels also help—they cover the entirety of the arena’s ceiling and “reduce the reverberation time and sound intensity levels in normally bad acoustical environments,” explains Anger.

Let’s get technical

Amplifiers with pickups attached // Photo by Nate Ryan, MPR

Guitar amplifiers on stage // Photo by Nate Ryan, MPR

A sound system starts with its sound sources—microphones, keyboards, guitars, etc.—which are sent as inputs to the mixing console. The sound engineer overseeing the console can manipulate the sound as needed before it’s converted into an output and sent to a power amplifier. The power amplifiers boost the volume of the outputs and send them to the final component of the sound system: the speakers. 

There are two main types of speakers: house speakers, which carry sound out to the audience, and monitors, which deliver sound back onstage to the performers via onstage speakers at performers’ feet or in-ear monitors, which are worn like earbuds. Although the audience doesn’t hear the sound emitted from monitors, they are crucial in creating a seamless performance onstage. “When you have people spread over a 40- or 70-foot-wide space, it’s easy not to be able to hear the guy on the other side of the stage,” says sound engineer Jim Pfitzinger. “Trying to keep everybody in time across these large distances is sometimes a problem.” 

House speakers vary widely in type and configuration, but today many venues are moving toward line array technology—a powerful configuration of speaker components that look like long, skinny lines of boxes strung together and usually hang on either side of the stage. All of the individual components are “specifically coupled together and become a really powerful and directional tool,” Pfitzinger explains. “All of those components are timed and aligned to act as one large component to give you a more consistent coverage from the front of the venue to the back of the venue.” 

Engineering the show

Tom Petty // Photo by Nate Ryan, MPR

Tom Petty // Photo by Nate Ryan, MPR

While every arena has its own in-house sound system, which is used mainly for sporting events, when an artist comes to perform they usually bring their own equipment and sound engineers. Artists will trek across the country in semi-trucks with their entire setup—everything from microphones to speakers and amplifiers. When Lady Gaga came to the Xcel Energy Center she brought 27 semi-trucks with her; Justin Timberlake rolled up to Xcel with 32. An artist will also bring five to six engineers with them to run a concert, with the venue providing eight to 12 people to help set up.

Working as a touring sound engineer means running the same show every night. Although touring engineers work in a different arena on each stop of the tour, they are always working with the same equipment and the same artist.

Being a house engineer, however, means constantly switching gears. As a house engineer at Xcel, a normal work week for Pfitzinger entails running sound for the opening night of the Minnesota Wild one night and “Sesame Street Live!” the next. “You’re going to be doing a different gig every night; sometimes three different gigs during a day,” Pfitzinger says. 

In addition to working a wide array of events, being a house engineer also means constantly working with new sound systems and touring engineers, Pfitzinger says. “As a house guy, you’re going to see maybe 300 different systems over a year and a half, and 300 different engineers. You see a lot of new technology.”

Engineering sound is a science, and requires a great deal of precision. However, everyone experiences sound differently—what sounds good to one person may be off-putting to the next. Working as a sound engineer often means deferring your own judgment and listening to the artist.

Herbie Woodruff learned first-hand how to design for a musician’s preferences by running sound for Prince. “I worked with him a lot before he became a big artist, and through his whole career,” says Woodruff. “He was responsible for how he sounded. If you were the sound engineer, you and him agreed on how it sounded. And really, that’s how he wanted it to sound and you couldn’t change it. If you did, he’d fire you.”

Being a sound engineer at an arena means always adapting. Monitor engineers must constantly check that performers can hear each other in time. The front of house engineer has to ensure that all the inputs are delivered to the correct speakers at the exact right moment. House engineers see hundreds of systems each year, and touring engineers work in a different venue every night. But if they do their jobs successfully, all of this will occur without the audience ever realizing it. The crowd will shuffle out of their seats at the end of the night, reveling in the sounds that they just heard, without ever knowing who delivered them to their ears.

Colleen Cowie runs the blog Pass The MicThis article was produced as a part of a collaboration between The Growler Magazine and The Current, Minnesota’s non-commercial, member-supported radio station playing the best authentic, new music alongside the music that inspired it. Find this article and more great music content at thecurrent.org.

Superior Sounds: Great summer concerts along the shores of the greatest Great Lake

Trampled By Turtles playing the Bayfront Music Festival in Duluth, Minnesota // Photo by Ryan Siverson

Summer in the Upper Midwest—so much to do, so little time!

Like any other Minnesotan, I enjoy hopping a plane to somewhere warmer for a week or so in the winter, but summer is the perfect time to enjoy local offerings out on the open road.

Some vacation for leisure; others for adventure. I always find myself drawn to the nightlife of my various destinations—particularly live music. When I visit a new city, the first thing I like to do is find a small venue and check out a local band I haven’t heard of. As a long-time radio warrior and 11-year resident of the musically rich cityscape that is downtown Duluth, a city’s musical talent (and residents’ level of engagement with it) says a lot to me about local flavor and has become a benchmark by which I judge livability.

So let’s follow the naturally air-conditioned shore of the greatest Great Lake in search of the best music the North has to offer. Here’s to summer, rock ‘n’ roll tourism, and Lake Superior as your compass.


Trampled By Turtles playing the Bayfront Music Festival in Duluth, Minnesota // Photo by Ryan Siverson

The surplus of talent and rapidly increasing number of venues make the city a perfect gateway for a musical tour of Lake Superior. The Homegrown Music Festival—Duluth’s annual local art extravaganza—celebrated its 20th anniversary this year with a lineup that fell just shy of 200 acts. 


Hometown heroes Trampled by Turtles are back from hiatus and have announced they’ll be returning to Bayfront Park on Saturday, July 7 with Charlie Parr, The Last Revel, Superior Siren, Bad Bad Hats, and Teague Alexy for what is sure to be the city’s musical event of the summer. The park will also host Bone Thugs-N-Harmony with Naughty by Nature and Coolio on July 6, Bayfront Reggae & World Music Festival on July 21, and The Bayfront Blues Festival, celebrating its 30th year, on August 10–12.

Historical Venues

In the early 20th century heyday of lumber, steel, and railroads, Duluth was an industrial hub. Today, with its antiquated infrastructure and entangled lore of murders, miners, and millionaires, the city’s as good a destination for history buffs as it is for music and craft beer aficionados.

Get up to speed with a visit to the town’s historic venues: Sacred Heart Music Center is a late 19th century neo-Gothic cathedral turned performance venue and recording studio for musicians who don’t mind a bit of natural reverb. It frequently hosts acts like HALEY, Mason Jennings, and Low. Tickets are now available for Har Mar Superstar’s Sam Cooke tribute on August 10. 

Duluth’s pioneering musicians and fans who frequented the newly renovated NorShor Theatre in its glory days as an underground artist space are still anxiously anticipating what role music will play in its new era with The Duluth Playhouse as its anchor tenant.

On the east side, Glensheen Mansion enters its fourth summer as a makeshift outdoor music venue with Concerts On The Pier, a Wednesday night series in July featuring performances on a literal pier in the mansion’s backyard. This year’s lineup includes a brass-heavy soul/funk collective, Big Wave Dave & The Ripples, on July 4; R&B three-piece, The Latelys, on July 11; bluegrass quartet Black River Revue on July 18; and heavy blues rock outfit (fronted by Low’s Alan Sparhawk), The Black Eyed Snakes, on July 25. The events are free and open to the public, many of whom tend to arrive via watercraft.

Glensheen Concert On The Pier 2017 // Photo by Jay Gabler

Word On The Street

When it comes to music in Duluth, there is no need to plan too far in advance. As you walk through downtown, you’ll encounter around 10 music venues in as many blocks. Stop by Sir Benedict’s, Carmody Irish Pub, or Canal Park’s Amazing Grace Bakery & Cafe for a casual acoustic experience. Dive into R.T. Quinlan’s for a noisy underground escape.

To enjoy Grandma’s Marathon weekend, you don’t need to be a runner or a spectator. You just need to like being around people… lots of people. Between the marathon traffic and road construction Downtown Duluth will be a headache to navigate by car June 15–16 but luckily most of the action takes place in the very walkable Canal Park, which hosts two large-scale entertainment options for those in town. Rock The Big Top is the official Grandma’s Marathon hosted event taking place all weekend. GB Leighton was the returning headliner for years until they took a big-name ’90s nostalgia approach with groups like Smash Mouth and Everclear. This year’s headliner: Fever Ray. Taking place simultaneously—directly on the other side of the block—is Lake Ave Live, a more locally-focused showcase of music and eats hosted by Lake Avenue Restaurant and Bar. This year’s event features Duluth favorites including Superior Siren, Alamode and Red Mountain as well as some noteworthy visitors like Gramma’s Boyfriend and the Milwaukee-based GGOOLLDD.

The now four-year-old Red Herring Lounge hosts local and national acts three to four nights a week and has established two main summer events: The Current Goes to Duluth, July 27–28, which coincides with All Pints North Summer Brew Fest on July 28, and the Super Big Block Party come September 8. The lineups for both are still TBA, but past performers include Lizzo, Grieves, Caroline Smith, Dead Man Winter, The 4onthefloor, and deM atlaS.

New Venues

In the last year, several new stages have appeared in downtown Duluth.

Blacklist Artisan Ales now occupies the space on Superior Street once home to the infamous Last Place On Earth. They specialize in high-gravity Belgian/German-style brews and have recently been booking the taproom several nights a week with a mix of Minnesota’s rising talents like Night Moves, Nooky Jones, Mike Munson, The Lowest Pair, Dwynell Roland, and a host of Duluth marquee artists. Rebooted Twin Cities favorite Roma di Luna will share a bill with Duluth veteran Toby Thomas Churchill on June 30.

Right next door is SOUND, which takes a leaf from Minneapolis’ Dakota Jazz Club. The focus is on genres complementary to a fine dining experience. Since opening in January, the stage has featured national acts like Brett Dennen, G. Love, Anders Osborne, and Dessa. 

Slightly off the beaten path of Canal Park is BLUSH, which opened in August of 2017. The 46-capacity bar/gallery/venue with no stage creates an up-close-and-personal atmosphere with the lo-fi, experimental acts that drive its overall sound. BLUSH is a queer community safe space, owned and frequented by gender non-binary members of the music scene’s youngest echelon.

Beaner’s Central is approaching its 20th year as a live music staple in the tourist-free West Duluth and hosts Petefest, June 6–10, a week-long local music showcase curated by well-known bouncer, merch salesman, and all around local music fanatic, Pete Cich. This year includes performances from Ingeborg Von Agassiz, The Brothers Burn Mountain, lake walk busker Jeffrey James O’Loughlin, and more.

Duluth’s most unexpected show announcements of the year so far would have to be the city’s first ever visit from Modest Mouse September 18 at the DECC Symphony Hall and Mastodon with Dinosaur Jr., slated September 7—sandwiched between stops in Winnipeg and Sioux City. Though the real head scratcher is the venue: Lincoln Park’s Duluth Heritage Center—a youth/high school–sized hockey arena in Lincoln Park–West End. 

Wisconsin/Michigan—Upper Peninsula

The Northern Lights over the Big Top Chautauqua tent // Photo by George Eggers Courtesy Big Top Chautauqua

Across the harbor in Superior, Wisconsin, Thirsty Pagan Brewing has built a lively happy hour culture around daily acoustic performances, and the Cedar Lounge is known for its occasional Wednesday residencies with Charlie Parr. The beer bar, which serves as Earth Rider Brewery’s taproom, also released a collection of live recordings in 2017 called the “Cedar Sessions Volume 1.” 

As you head up the South Shore, you’ll reach Bayfield, home of Big Top Chautauqua—famous for its iconic blue canvas tent and yearly summer lineups of national touring roots and Americana acts. This summer’s noteworthy visits include Brandi Carlile on June 16; New Power Generation on July 7; Arlo Guthrie on July 19; Shakey Graves on July 31; Ladysmith Black Mambazo on August 2; and Son Volt with Pokey LaFarge on August 11.

From Bayfield you can ferry to Madeline Island to meet the colorful regulars of Tom’s Burned Down Cafe, or keep heading east to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where Marquette’s Hiawatha Festival, which often draws from Minnesota’s musical pool, turns 40 this year. The Cactus Blossoms and Pert Near Sandstone headlined last summer’s fest and 2018’s main stage welcomes 11 performers, including Minneapolis zydeco group The Bone Tones, set for July 20–22. According to the festival’s website, “The Hiawatha Festival is the only event of its size and scope in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Without Hiawatha, local performers and fans would have to travel between four and six hours to the nearest festivals of its size and type.”

Lake Superior’s shores are home to more than one Grand Marais. Grand Marais, Michigan is located on the U.P., about halfway between Marquette and Sault Ste. Marie, and this year is hosting the 37th Grand Marais Music & Arts Festival, August 10–12 with Toronto-based headliners The Sadies.

North Shore

Similar to Duluth’s Bayfront Festival Park, though smaller, is Thunder Bay’s Marina Park, which hosts regional acts during Live on The Waterfront every Wednesday through July and August and the Thunder Bay Blues Festival on July 6–8, with headliners Sheryl Crow, Melissa Etheridge, and Sarah McLachlan.

The Foundry Pub is located in the entertainment district and is similar to South Minneapolis staple Icehouse, serving high-end pub fare and cocktails in a theater-esque atmosphere with live music on weekends.

Just over the border from Thunder Bay is Grand Marais, Minnesota, where the Gunflint Tavern books touring groups for two-night stints on summer weekends. Space Monkey Mafia, The Lark and the Loon, and Black River Revue are among this season’s residents.

To wrap up the town’s tourist season, The 4onthefloor takes over Wunderbar Eatery and Glampground September 20–22 for Stompers’ Retreat, a festival curated by frontman Gabriel Douglas.

Papa Charlie’s is the nightlife arm of Lutsen Mountains and is at its busiest during winter après-ski hours, but features an intimate Monday night songwriter series through the beginning of October for the hiking, canoeing, and disc-golfing summer crowd. The bar also features live music every Saturday night throughout summer and fall.

So pack your swimsuit, a sweatshirt, and some earplugs. You’ve got ground to cover. 

This article was produced as a part of a collaboration between The Growler Magazine and The Current, Minnesota’s non-commercial, member-supported radio station playing the best authentic, new music alongside the music that inspired it. Find this article and more great music content at thecurrent.org.

4 holiday shows for musicheads


The New Standards // Photo via The New Standards Facebook page

We all have our holiday traditions that don’t change much from year to year. If you live in the Twin Cities, maybe it’s taking in the light shows along Nicollet Mall or Summit Avenue in St. Paul. But regardless of your traditions, no holiday season is complete without a little music.

The best part of the local holiday show scene is the variety. Sure, there are the same holiday classics like The Guthrie’s “A Christmas Carol” or the various stagings of “The Nutcracker” that many Minnesotans enjoy every year, but there are also less conventional performances for audiences who wouldn’t typically see a holiday show. Just consider this past weekend’s holiday concert at the Orpheum Theatre, when R&B singer R. Kelly—the architect of gems like “Ignition (Remix),” “Your Body’s Callin’,”and “Bump N’ Grind”—hosted his “12 Nights of Christmas” concert in support of his Christmas album of the same name.

Here are a few non-traditional holiday shows this December spreading cheer in unexpected ways for Minnesota’s musicheads.

The New Standards 10th Annual Holiday Show | December 13 at Paramount Center for the Arts, St. Cloud | December 17 at Sheldon Theater, Red Wing

NewStandardsByDavid Bowman

The New Standards // Photo by David Bowman via The New Standards Facebook page

It’s impossible to mention holiday shows around the Twin Cities without mentioning one of the main staples in the Minneapolis annual show circuit. While the State Theater shows in Minneapolis have already come and gone, The New Standards still have upcoming shows in St. Cloud (Dec. 13) and Red Wing (Dec. 17; sold out). Guests are always at high volume, and this year’s concert in the Twin Cities included guest performances from Aby Wolf, Gary Louris, and Jeremy Messersmith. This is one to see at some point. Buy tickets.

Snow Show ‘16 | December 15 at Myth


Bastille // Photo via Bastille Facebook page

Of all the shows available during the holiday season, this is the one with the highest population of national acts. Headlined by Bastille and BANKS (known best for 2014’s “Beggin For Thread”), this show was originally designated for the Target Center, but eventually moved to the Maplewood location. For those looking for the most variety and the most radio-friendly sound, this might be the top choice. Buy tickets.

Low & Friends Christmas and Holiday Bazaar | December 17 at First Avenue

LOW page

Low // Photo by Nate Ryan

The Duluth collective is known for its haunting melodies and emotionally gripping vocals. But as they’ve built up steam on the national level, the allure of their upcoming Christmas show (something they’ve done before) has picked up steam. Supporting acts like Hippo Campus and Erik Berry (of Trampled by Turtles fame) just add legitimacy to a bill that needs no more legitimacy. Buy tickets.

The Bad Plus | December 22–23, 25–26 at the Dakota Jazz Club


The Bad Plus // Photo via The Bad Plus Facebook page

A tradition going onto its 17th year, local jazz titans The Bad Plus have been offering multi-night displays of their decade-long discography. This year’s set could be especially fun, too. After an album with Joshua Redman and their critically acclaimed “Inevitable Western,” their 2016 release “It’s Hard” is an album entirely of covers, including a mystical cover of late local legend Prince’s “The Beautiful Ones.” Buy tickets.

26 shows for the 26 remaining days in ‘Rocktober’

BeachSlang by Sinead Grainger

Beach Slang plays the Triple Rock on Oct. 28 // Photo via Beach Slang Facebook page

October 2016 is upon us, and like in previous years, this year’s crop of shows around the Twin Cities has clearly earned the title of “Roctktober” once again.

Here are 26 recommended shows over the 26 remaining days in the month, with the “must see” shows in bold. Get out there and rock.


Dem Yuut // Photo via Dem Yuut Facebook page

Friday, October 7th – Dem Yuut at Icehouse – $8 / 21+ / Buy tickets

Saturday, October 8th – Twin Peaks w/ White Reaper at 7th Street Entry – $13 / 18+ / Buy tickets

Monday, October 10th – Cymbals Eat Guitars at 7th Street Entry – $12 / 18+ / Buy tickets

Monday, October 10th – Opeth w/ The Sword at First Avenue – $35 / 18+ / Buy tickets


Kishi Bashi // Photo via Kishi Bashi Facebook page

Wednesady, October 12th – Kishi Bashi at First Avenue – $17 / 18+ / Buy tickets

Thursday, October 13th – Okkervil River at Fine Line Music Café – $20 / 18+ / Buy tickets

Friday, October 14th – Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas w/ Tancred at Triple Rock Social Club – $12 / 18+ / Buy tickets

Saturday, October 15th – Death From Above 1979 w/ Black Rebel Motor Cycle Club + Deap Vally at Myth – $24.50 / All Ages / Buy tickets

BadBadHats by Christina Kladis

Bad Bad Hats // Photo by Christina Kladis via Bad Bad Hats Facebook page

Saturday, October 15th – She Rock 10th Anniversary Party ft. Bad Bad Hats, Tony Peachka + more at Amsterdam Bar & Hall – $17 / All Ages / Buy tickets

Wednesday, October 19th – The Dean Ween Group w/ The Meat Puppets at First Avenue – $20 / 18+ / Buy tickets

Thursday, October 20th – Deerhunter at First Avenue – $20 / 18+ / Buy tickets

Thursday, October 20th – Boy & Bear at Triple Rock – $18 / 18+ / Buy tickets

Friday, October 21st – M83 at Skyway Theater – $37.50 / 18+ / Buy tickets

Friday, October 21st – Mick Jenkins at Amsterdam Bar and Hall – $3 (w/ RSVP) $10 (w/o RSVP) / 18+ / RSVP / RSVP here

Saturday, October 22nd – Cass McCombs Band at Turf Club – $13 / 21+ / Buy tickets

TeenageFanclubbyNina Corcoran

Teenage Fanclub // Photo by Nina Corcoran via Teenage Fanclub Facebook page

Saturday, October 22nd – Teenage Fanclub at Fine Line Music Cafe – $20 / 18+ / Buy tickets


Sunflower Bean // Photo via Sunflower Bean Facebook page

Monday, October 24th – Sunflower Bean w/ The Lemon Twigs at 7th Street Entry – $10 / 18+ / Buy tickets


Little Scream // Photo via Little Scream Facebook page

Tuesday, October 25th – Little Scream at Turf Club – $10 / 21+ / Buy tickets


Flock of Dimes // Photo via Flock of Dimes Facebook page

Tuesday, October 25th – Flock of Dimes at 7th Street Entry – $12 / 18+ / Buy tickets

Wednesday, October 26th – Fruit Bats at 7th Street Entry – $15 / 18+ / Buy tickets

Thursday, October 27th – St. Paul & The Broken Bones at First Avenue – $25 / 18+ / Buy tickets

BeachSlangbyIan Laidlaw

Beach Slang // Photo by Ian Laidlaw via Beach Slang Facebook page

Friday, October 28th – Beach Slang / Bleached at Triple Rock Social Club – $12 / 18+ / Buy tickets

Saturday, October 29th – The Blind Shake (Record Release) w/ Fury Things at 7th Street Entry – $8 / 18+ / Buy tickets


Joseph // Photo via Joseph Facebook page

Saturday, October 29th – Joseph at Cedar Cultural Center – $20 / All Ages / Buy tickets

Sunday, October 30th – Peter Hook & The Light at First Avenue – $25 / 18+ / Buy tickets

Sunday, October 30th – Tommy Stinson’s ‘Cowboys in the Campfire’ at Triple Rock – $20 / 18+ / Buy tickets

Festival Palomino 2016 moves to Hall’s Island in Minneapolis

Festival Palomino announced Tuesday morning that it will move this year’s concert to Hall’s Island in Minneapolis from Canterbury Park, due to construction delays at the racetrack caused by severe weather and flooding.

While the move to Minneapolis wasn’t welcomed news to ticket holders with non-refundable hotel stays near Canterbury Park, the alternative was canceling the festival altogether. Conditions at the racetrack’s infield were so bad that “there was no way [organizers] could produce the event there,” according the festival’s Facebook page.

Hall’s Island has been a popular outdoor venue this summer, hosting both 89.3 The Current’s Rock the Garden concert on June 18 and, most recently, Wilco on August 20.

Organizers of Festival Palomino assured the public that all tickets will be honored at the new venue and the essential event details have not changed, though the festival is still working on shoring up the details for VIP ticket holders. Updates will emailed to all ticket buyers and will be made available on the festival website and social media pages.

The Mill Post Bottom Graphic

Weekly Set List: 5 must-see concerts happening this week


The Twilight Hours will play a pair of shows on July 15 and 16 to mark the release of their new album “Black Beauty” // Photo via The Twilight Hours Facebook page

Summer is nearing the half-way point, which depending on your point of view is either exciting and terrifying. On the exciting side of things, the summer concert lineup only gets better from here on out. Here are a few shows to check out this week.

Holy White Hounds | 7th Street Entry | Tuesday, July 12th, 7pm

Iowa’s Holy White Hounds have a dark and scuzzy blues rock swagger that you might expect out of a band from Los Angeles or Australia, but that only adds to their intrigue. Their heavy riffs and catchy hooks seem ripe to propel them onto bigger stages in the near future. Opening the show are The Unlikely Candidates, Tabah, and Whiskey Rock ‘N Roll Club, a newer local band whose name is quite fitting. $10 / 18+ / Buy tickets

Black Lips + Chain & The Gang | Turf Club | Tuesday, July 12th, 8pm

Atlanta’s Black Lips are infamous for their on-stage antics and feverish energy, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that they have been one of the most consistent garage rock bands of the last 15 years. As if Black Lips aren’t reason enough to attend, Chain & The Gang, featuring punk legend Ian Svenonius (Nation of Ulysses, Weird War, The Make-Up, etc.) are opening the evening, which is sure to bring in one heck of a lively crowd. $20 / 21+ / Buy tickets

tiny deaths | 7th Street Entry | Wednesday, July 13th, 7:30pm

Minneapolis’ has no shortage of electro dream/dance pop acts right now, but one of the finest of the crop are tiny deaths. Fronted by Claire de Lune (The Chalice) and paired up with songwriting partner Grant Cutler (Lookbook, Wolflords, etc.), the two have managed to carve out an intoxicating sound over the last few years, and the live band Claire has assembled are even more impressive than on record. RONiiA and Nicholas Perez open the show. $8 / 18+ / Buy tickets

The Twilight Hours | Turf Club (Friday, June 15th, 8pm) & 7th Street Entry (Saturday, June 16th, 8pm)

Trip Shakespeare’s John Junson and Matt Wilson’s most recent project, The Twilight Hours, has been around for nearly 10 years now, but are celebrating the release of just their second full-length studio album, “Black Beauty,” with a pair of release shows. The shows are also celebrating the re-issue of Wilson’s 1998 solo album “Burnt White & Blue.” Both shows feature two of the Twin Cities’ most underrated rock bands as opening acts: BBGUN Friday night at the Turf, and Red Daughters at the Entry on Saturday. These shows will likely sell out in advance, so don’t wait.

Weekly Set List: Saturday night special

Frankie LeePAGE

Frankie Lee will mark the U.S. release of his “American Dreamer” album at the Turf Club on Saturday night // Photo via Frankie Lee Facebook page

For this week’s edition of the Weekly Set List, we decided to focus on three very awesome and distinct shows for you to choose from tomorrow night.

Nick Blood: A Tribute to Nick Patrick Thompson | First Avenue | Saturday, July 9th, 7pm


Nick Blood

Nick Thompson (aka: Nick Blood) may not be a household name to many, but to anyone with even remote ties to the local music scene over the last 15 years, he, along with Blood of the Young, the record label that he formed in 1999, was widely considered a driving factor in the early careers of numerous Twin Cities bands. Sadly, Nick passed away suddenly on June 4 at the age of 36. One quick scan of the lineup for this tribute show tells you just how loved and respected Nick was. The show will feature a reunion of Sean Na Na, Sean Tillman’s fantastic power pop band, P.O.S., Marijuana Deathsquads, Cadillac Blindside, Tickle Torture, Fort Wilson Riot, and more. $12 / 18+ / Buy tickets

Frankie Lee (“American Dreamer” U.S. Album Release) | Turf Club | Saturday, July 9th, 8pm

While local troubadour Frankie Lee may have already released his most recent album “American Dreamer” in Europe last year on Rough Trade, this night is to celebrate the U.S. release of the album on Thirty Tigers. Lee has toured Europe and the U.S. relentlessly over the last year, so expect his all-star band to shine bright. Opening the show are Dusty Heart, a local duo consisting of fantastic singer/songwriters in their own right Barbara Jean and Molly Dean, along with Harvey Benson. $15 / 21+ / Buy tickets

Fear of Men | 7th Street Entry | Saturday, July 9th, 8pm

The brand of indie pop from Brighton’s Fear of Men may be reminiscent of bands like Stereolab or Camera Obscura, but still offers a fresh and driving style all their own. Their sophomore album “Fall Forever” continues builds off of the foundation of their debut “Loom,” adding more textures and layers, as well as a bit of a darker shade of their usual sunny melodies. $12 / 18+ / Buy tickets

The creative confluence at Eaux Claires


This field will once again come alive this August for the Eaux Claires Music and Arts Festival // Photo by Aaron Davidson, The Growler

We pull up to an open field a few miles southwest of downtown Eau Claire. There’s nothing immediately noteworthy about the place—just an empty lot overgrown with tall grass and golden rod. Without a GPS we surely would have passed it.

And yet it was here, on this plateau overlooking the Chippewa River Valley, that tens of thousands of people congregated last July. One by one, they debarked from an endless line of yellow school buses, all eager to take part in Justin Vernon and Aaron Dessner’s first ever Eaux Claires Music and Arts Festival.

At the southwestern corner of the field stands the weathered “Main Entrance” sign, the same one that last summer beckoned the crowds through and pointed them to a dirt path leading down the edge of the bluff.


Photo by Aaron Davidson, The Growler

Today, this corner is where we meet the man whom Vernon called the “most important person to this entire festival”—Eaux Claires creative director Michael Brown.

Brown has a wiry red beard, a brush of brown hair, and is sporting a faded blue and yellow flannel over a sturdy frame. He’s just returned from producing shows for Bon Iver at the Sydney Opera House in Australia. Each sip he takes from a metal Eaux Claires-branded coffee mug helps fend off the last dregs of jet lag.


Eaux Claires Creative Director Michael Brown // Photo by Aaron Davidson, The Growler

The demands of the road are nothing new for Brown, who has toured extensively with Grizzly Bear, Wilco, The National, and Bon Iver. A self-described theater kid, Brown grew up in Nashville. As an adult, he moved to New York City and fell into the fashion world, landing a job designing window displays for Ralph Lauren stores around the world. A few years into that job, Brown rediscovered his love of music while lighting and staging concerts at big corporate events. At one of those concerts, he met the members of Grizzly Bear, who took Brown on tour and started him down his career path in music production.


The National performs at the 2015 Eaux Claires Music and Arts Festival // Photo by Mike Diskin courtesy of Eaux Claires

At a  2010 Grizzly Bear show in London, Brown caught the attention of Justin Vernon, the frontman of Bon Iver, who was in attendance. Vernon was impressed with Brown’s work. “Justin came up to me and was like, ‘Man, the lights were amazing man. Someday we’re going to work together,’” Brown recalls. Thinking it was just one of those things people say, he didn’t put much stock into it. Five years later, Brown and Vernon now work non-stop together, including on the Eaux Claires Music and Arts Festival.

“Justin has always wanted to do something to truly give back to the community here—outside of just being an ambassador of Eau Claire,” Brown says. “He’s really wanted to organize something.” That  longtime mission finally came to life for a weekend last July with Eaux Claires.

For some festivalgoers, it was the musical performances at Eaux Claires that surpassed all expectations. For others, it was the collaborative spirit of artists of all types coming together with a singular purpose that transcended the very concept of an outdoor music festival: it wasn’t just a collection of bands playing songs, it was a confluence of music and art.

That was exactly what Vernon, Dessner, and Brown envisioned when they gathered at Vernon’s house in 2014 to flesh out the idea for a new kind of festival. “I came out to a brain trust, think-tank situation where everybody was getting together at Justin’s house,” Brown remembers. “They started talking about what they wanted the festival to be, and it was clear that Justin and Aaron and the other producers didn’t just want to do another music festival. They wanted to do something that was striving to push more boundaries.”


Photo by David Szymanski courtesy of Eaux Claires

The festival they envisioned would create a space for the audience and artists to interact with one another. Moreover, it would be a festival where artists of all mediums could try things they’d never had the means, ability, or time to do on their own. Instead of just seeing a band perform, it’d be a festival where “a community is developed and you are buying a ticket so you can partake in whatever happens here,” explains Brown.

In order to achieve that goal, the festival had to feel like a place, not just a field with stages and merch booths. That sense of place came into focus with the festival’s name.

Sitting around a campfire at Vernon’s house, Brown suggested using the original spelling of Vernon’s hometown for the festival: Eaux Claires (French for “clear waters,” Brown explained). With its mix of history and legend, and its tie to the Eau Claire and Chippewa River confluence, the name held a familiar yet otherworldly appeal that immediately resonated with everyone.

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2015 Eaux Claires // Photo by Kelly Teacher courtesy of Eaux Claires

From that point forward, Brown’s role as creative director took shape. “They call me the creative director of the festival, but it’s actually completely misnamed in that the true role of a creative director in a company is to organize the creatives and help them facilitate their goal,” says Brown. “But I kind of bridge the gap in that I’m also one of the creatives.”

In addition to managing projects—like Icelandic performance artist Ragnar Kjartansson’s visual and performance piece, “Forever Love,” and HOT TEA’s much-photographed installation made of thousands of colorful strands of yarn—Brown created many of the other installations at last year’s festival.


HOT TEA’s installation at the 2015 Eaux Claires // Photo by Zoe Prinds-Flash Photography courtesy of Eaux Claires

One of those projects was the three white, geodesic domes near the upper stage that housed a bank of television screens, an experimental audio project using headphones, and a hip hop confessional with rapper Astronautalus. Right before doors opened, Brown felt a wave of panic rush through him, fearing no one would engage with the domes. His fears were quickly put to rest as lines formed at the domes that lasted the entire weekend.

Another of Brown’s installations that proved attendees were keen on the interactive art concept of Eaux Claires was a collection of window light boxes set deep in the woods, off the main path to the upper field. Attendees trudged through thistles and brush to view the light boxes up close, taking the organizers’ invitation to explore the grounds more literally than they had intended. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh!’” Brown says. “I mean, it’s a beautiful accident, but it’s totally not what we meant.”

This August, Brown and the Eaux Claires team want to take the art to the next level and foster even more collaboration. “Specifically, how can we set it up so that the programming is intentionally that much more challenging and inherently that much more rewarding for the people that come in,” explains Brown.


Eaux Claires 2015 // Photo courtesy of Eaux Claires

One project they hope will answer the call is a collaboration between Italian sculpture artist Edoardo Tresoldi and U.K. organist James McVinnie. Tresoldi is constructing a massive baroque pipe organ sculpture, which McVinnie will use to fill the downtime between sets on the main stages by playing classical compositions.

This year will also feature a select few of the over 180 proposals submitted during the festival’s first open call for art. Eventually Brown hopes to source all of the festival’s installations from these proposals to get even more of the artist community involved.

The positive engagement organizers saw at the art installments also translated to the stages, where bands were greeted by audiences who were truly there for the music—a rarity at some outdoor festivals. Eaux Claires is encouraging musicians to experiment more with their sets this year, through dance or visual elements, to bring arts and music even closer together.

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The National performs at the 2015 Eaux Claires // Photo by Kelly Teacher courtesy of Eaux Claires

The sense of connection and community that attendees felt with the artists, the music, the woods and river, and other audience members during Eaux Claires was hard to describe. Festival narrator and bestselling author Michael Perry, however, found the words in his final address.

“It’s good to have music near a river,” Perry said. “There’s this idea of baptism, of absolution, no matter what you believe. Better yet, it’s good to have music near a place where two rivers come together—a confluence—for what are we but a confluence. A confluence that lives and breathes, a confluence of dream and song, a confluence of 22,000 beating hearts. And so here we are, cradled by a river in a sanctuary of sound, craving consecration, exaltation, on bended knee seeking benediction.”

Brown and the Eaux Claires team hopes to achieve that same creative confluence and sense of community this August, when they invite tens of thousands of people, musicians, and artists to return to the river.

Dance outside: 2016 summer music festival preview


Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival returns to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, August 12-13 // Photo via Eaux Claires Facebook page

Today, June 20, is the official start of summer, which means the calendar in the coming months is chock full of outdoor music festivals. See the list below for some of our favorites, and we’ll see you on the dance floor (or mud pit, depending on the fest and the weather).

Basilica Block Party | Minneapolis, Minnesota | July 8-10


Basilica Block Party // Photo via Basilica Block Party Facebook page

Last year’s Cities 97 Basilica Block Party lineup was one of their strongest in years and this year is no slouch either. Featuring Ryan Adams, Death Cab For Cutie, Gary Clark Jr., Craig Finn, Cold War Kids, Andra Day, and many more. And as always, the Star Tribune’s local stage has a great lineup as well, featuring Step Rocks, Fort Wilson Riot, and Gospel Machine’s last show ever on Friday, and Farewell Milwaukee, Holidae, and Eric Mayson on Saturday. Tickets and more info.

Lollapalooza | Chicago, Illinois | July 28-31


Lollapalooza // Photo via Lollapalooza Facebook page

This year is the 25th anniversary of Lollapalooza and the festival is being extended to four days for the first time ever. With a massive lineup headlined by Radiohead (their only Midwest show this year), LCD Soundsystem, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Future, Ellie Goulding, and more. Some other highlights of the lineup are Chris Stapleton, Haim, M83, Grimes, Leon Bridges, Big Grams, and Kurt Vile (just to name a few). Tickets are unfortunately already sold out, but as the event draws nearer you may have luck finding one for a decent price online. More info.

Hinterland Music Festival | St. Charles, Iowa | August 5-6

Hinter Photo by Jeremy Kim Photography

Hinterland Music Festival // Photo by Jeremy Kim Photography via Hinterland Facebook page

In just its second year, Iowa’s Hinterland Music Festival in tiny St. Charles, Iowa (30 miles southwest of Des Moines), has established quite a lineup of Americana/roots musical acts, headlined this year by none other than the legendary Willie Nelson. Ray Lamontagne, Grace Potter, Shovels & Rope, Turnpike Troubadours, Lake Street Dive, Houndmouth, Cold War Kids, Pokey Lafarge, William Elliott Whitmore, Hayes Carll, San Fermin, and Field Division round out the two-day lineup. Tickets and more info.

Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival | Eau Claire, Wisconsin| August 12-13

Eaux Photo by- Zoe Prinds

Eaux Claires // Photo by- Zoe Prinds via Eaux Claires Facebook page

After a very successful inaugural outing, the brainchild of Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon and The National’s Aaron Dessner returns to the river for its second installment a month later than in 2015. The music and arts festival once again will feature a headlining set from Vernon’s Bon Iver, who has promised a set of “all new music” this year. Other highlights are Erykah Badu, James Blake, Beach House, Bruce Hornsby (performing “The Way It Is”), Cornelius (performing “Fantasma”), Mavis Staples, Jenny Lewis, Phosphorescent, Lucius, and Vince Staples.

Related post: Eaux Claires festival announces food and drink lineup

The festival will also feature the only live performance (so far) of “Day of the Dead,” an all-star Grateful Dead tribute that came out last month. The album was curated by The National’s Bryce and Aaron Dessner and features many of the acts on the Eaux Claires lineup, as well as The War on Drugs, the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir, Wilco, Mumford & Sons, and more, so who knows might show up. Tickets and more info.

Summer Set Music & Camping Festival | Somerset, Wisconsin | August 12-14


Summer Set Music & Camping Festival // Photo via Summer Set Facebook page

In its fifth year, Summer Set has expanded well beyond its EDM roots. Highlights include Skrillex, Chance The Rapper & The Social Experiment, Grimes, Steve Aoki, Fetty Wap, Flatbush Zombies, Bassnectar, Cherub, St. Lucia, Lewis Del Mar, Gramatik, and tons more. The 3-day passes appear to all include camping (at various price points). Tickets and more info.

Summit’s 30th Anniversary Backyard Bash | St. Paul, MN | September 10

Summit Brewing Company is celebrating 30 years with a backyard bash on September 10 // Image via Summit Brewing Company

Summit Brewing Company is celebrating 30 years with a backyard bash on September 10 // Image via Summit Brewing Company

The folks at Summit Brewing Company are doing it big this year for their annual Backyard Bash in honor of their 30th anniversary. The all-day event is headlined by Bob Mould, along with sets from Bully, deM atlas, Bad Bad Hats, Apollo Cobra, Nooky Jones, and DJ sets by Hotpants DJs. We image there will also be a special beer or two on tap, as well. Tickets and more info.

Related post: All the deets for Summit’s 30th anniversary bash

Riot Fest and Carnival | Chicago, Illinois | September 16-18


Riot Fest // Photo via Riot Fest Facebook page

In just a few years, Riot Fest has become one of the best and most diverse festivals in America. The biggest news of this year’s lineup is a reunion of the classic lineup of The Misfits, along with Ween, Morrissey, Rob Zombie (performing White Zombie’s “Astro Creep 2000”), Social Distortion (performing “White Light, White Heat, White Trash”), Nas, Deftones, Descendents, Refused, NOFX, Bad Religion, Death Grips, Bob Mould, and The Hold Steady (performing “Boys and Girls in America”). And that’s just a small portion of the massive lineup. Tickets and more info.

Festival Palomino | Shakopee, Minnesota | September 17

Trampled Palomino 2014

Trampled by Turtles performs at Festival Palomino // Photo via Festival Palomino Facebook page

In just its third year, Trampled By Turtles’ Festival Palomino has grown well beyond its Americana roots, and this year is no different. The lineup features The Arcs (featuring Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys), Andrew Bird, Jake Bugg, Frightened Rabbit, Hound Mouth, The Cactus Blossoms, and newcomer Margaret Glaspy, as well as a handful of other national and local acts on a new third stage. The festival will also feature live horse racing on Canterbury’s track. Tickets and more info.

Boats and Bluegrass | Winona, Minnesota | September 22-25

Boats and bluegrass

Boats and Bluegrass // Photo via Boats and Bluegrass Facebook page

Few festivals sell out before a single act is announced, but that’s the case with Boats and Bluegrass, a family-friendly festival that takes place along the Mississippi River in Winona, Minnesota. This year’s acts include Pert Near Sandstone, Charlie Parr, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades, Hot Buttered Rum, Parsonsfield, and more yet to be announced. And the “Boats” part of the fest isn’t just in the name for alliteration—festival-goers can rent canoes paddle around the backwaters of the river all weekend long.

Weekly Set List: Must-see concerts June 9–11


Philadelphia’s Nothing plays Triple Rock on Saturday, June 11 // Photo via Nothing Facebook page

With 100 degrees on the horizon for some parts of Minnesota on Friday, there’s no question summer has arrived. So what better way to beat the summer heat than a show in a dark, air-conditioned concert venue?

Sam Beam & Jessica Hoop | Varsity Theater | Thursday, June 9th, 7pm

Earlier this year, Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam teamed up with indie songwriter Jessca Hoop for a duets album entitled “Love Letter For Fire.” The album finds Beam’s lovely hushed melodies intertwining perfectly with Hoop’s warm vocals, all against a backdrop of minimal folk arrangements. Expect to hear a ton of swooning at this show as the duo tugs at the crowd’s collective heartstrings. $30 / 18+ / Buy tickets

Plants & Animals | 7th Street Entry | Thursday, June 9th, 8pm

Plants & Animals may not have the star power of many of their fellow Montreal bands, but their inventive arrangements are just as worthy of your time and attention. Their fourth and most recent album, “Waltzed in from the Rumbling,” closes a four-year gap since their previous record, “The End of That.” Winnipeg’s Royal Canoe (could you have come up with a more Canadian band name?) open the evening. $12 / 18+ / Buy tickets

Rebel, Rebel – Rock for Pussy XII – Tribute to David Bowie | First Avenue, Friday, June 10th, 8pm

After a year absence last year due to the organizers dealing with personal issues, and following the tragic loss of David Bowie earlier this year, there was no way that the annual Rock For Pussy Tribute wasn’t going to happen this year. As always, the show serves as a benefit for Feline Rescue, a no-kill cat shelter in St. Paul. This year’s event will certainly be a pretty heavy evening, but it will also be a celebration of Bowie’s amazing catalog and life. $15 / 18+ / Buy tickets

Nothing | Triple Rock Social Club | Saturday, July 11th, 7pm

Philadelphia’s Nothing have carved out a shoegaze-meets-post-rock sound that is a lot mellower than their members’ previous punk and hardcore bands might lead you to believe. Their latest record, “Tired of Tomorrow,” is a tight batch of driving guitars and haunting vocals. These songs are begging to be blown up and out live on stage. $15 / 18+ / Buy tickets

Weekly Set List: Summer festival season is officially here

Clockwork Indigo, #Soundset 2015. (Photo by Cory Dewald Photography)

Clockwork Indigo performs at Soundset 2015 // Photo by Cory Dewald Photography via Soundset Facebook page

We see you… arriving to work on Monday morning with your dark sunglasses on, nursing an Art-A-Whirl hangover. Hopefully you made it to Northeast Minneapolis to experience one of the best local events of the year this past weekend, but if you didn’t, feat not, as Queen Bey and the summer outdoor music festival season arrive this week to sate your appetite.

Charles Bradley | First Avenue | Thursday, May 26th, 8pm

They don’t call Charles Bradley the “Screaming Eagle of Soul” for nothing. At 67 years old, Bradley is proof that it’s never too late to find your audience. Since his debut album in 2011, he has been dazzling audiences around the country with his James Brown-style showmanship and his incredible voice, while backed by the fantastic players from Daptones Records. It’s not hyperbole whatsoever to say that you will leave his show a changed person. $20 / 18+ / Buy tickets

Memory Lanes Block Party | Memory Lanes | Saturday, May 28th and Sunday, May 29th, 3:45pm-2am both days

tiny deaths will play the Memory Lanes Block Party on May 28

Last weekend’s Art-A-Whirl ushered in the summer of 10,000 block parties, so if you didn’t get enough fun in the sun and you’re not headed to the family cabin for Memorial Day, get on down to Memory Lanes this weekend. Saturday’s lineup features Mixed Blood Majority, Little Fevers, Murder Shoes, DJ Shannon Blowtorch, tiny deaths (on the inside stage), and many more, while Sunday’s lineup includes Fury Things, Red Daughters, Davina & The Vagabonds (inside), and the Hotpants DJs just to name a few. See the full lineup here$5 per day / All Ages / Tickets available at the gate

Soundset | Minnesota State Fairgrounds | Sunday, May 29th, 12pm-11pm

Over the last decade, the largest independent hip-hop festival in the country has been brewing in our own backyard. This year’s Soundset finds itself in a new location for the first time since 2009, the Midway of the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. Along with the change of scenery, the lineup is as stacked as ever, with national acts including The Roots, Future, Common, Danny Brown, A$AP Rocky, Anderson .Paak, and many many more, in addition to its usual share of great local talent with Lizzo, Doomtree, Prof, and of course, Atmosphere.

The before and after parties at First Avenue this year are also worth checking out whether you’re going to Soundset proper or not. Saturday’s Before Party lineup includes Grieves, dEm atlas, DJ Abilities, Sarah White, and more, and Sunday’s After Party features Questlove (who has promised one heck of a Prince tribute) along with Get Cryphy. $84 / All Ages / Buy tickets

Weekly Set List: Must-see concerts May 2–8

Wild Nothing // Photo by Pato Columbo

Wild Nothing // Photo via Facebook, credit Pato Columbo

After a fairly up and down April, spring has finally without a doubt arrived in Minnesota. The amount of trees and flowers blooming in the last week is incredible, so why not get out and see a show!

Wild Nothing + Whitney | Triple Rock Social Club | Monday, May 2, 7:30pm

Wild Nothing

Wild Nothing’s new album, “Life of Pause”

Wild Nothing recently released their third album for the Captured Tracks label, “Life of Pause.” The record is easily their most ambitious to date, building on their dream pop foundation with a bit more driving up-tempo rhythms. Chicago’s Whitney formed out of the ashes of the beloved Smith Westerns. Based on the few songs that have been released from their upcoming debut album “Light Upon The Lake,” which is due on June 3, the smooth falsetto vocals and catchy hooks provide a bit more of a laid back and more intimate sound than Smith Westerns. $15 / 18+ / Buy tickets

The Besnard Lakes | Turf Club | Tuesday, May 3, 7:30pm

Besnard Lakes // Photo via Facebook, credit Brendan George Ko

The Besnard Lakes // Photo via Facebook, credit Brendan George Ko

Montreal’s The Besnard Lakes released their fifth album “A Coliseum Complex Museum” back in January. The record doesn’t exactly mess with their formula of gorgeous lush vocals laid atop loud psychedelic guitars, but it’s still a bit of a return to form for them. Milwaukee-based opening act, Jaill, released their fourth record “Brain Cream” last summer, which saw a return to Burger Records, after a two album stint with Sub Pop. $12 / 21+ / Buy tickets

Caitlyn Smith | Icehouse | Thursday, May 5, 2016, 8pm

Caitlyn Smith

While country singer/songwriter Caitlyn Smith may spend much of her time in Nashville these days, she still calls Minnesota her home. The Cannon Falls native has penned songs for everyone from Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, to Garth Brooks, Jason Aldean, and Meghan Trainor. Returning home for one night only, don’t miss your chance to see an amazing songwriter in the intimate confines of Icehouse. $15 / 21+ / Buy tickets

Fog “For Good” Release Show | 7th Street Entry | Saturday, May 7, 8pm

Fog // Photo via Facebook

Fog // Photo via Facebook

Nearly a decade since 2007’s “Ditherer,” Andrew Broder has finally released the long-awaited new Fog album “For Good.” That’s not to say Andrew hasn’t been busy in that time: He released material with his other band The Cloak Ox as well as an EP with rapper Crescent Moon, just to name a few. This new album also brings a brand new live lineup along with it. Local rapper Greg Grease and producer Psymun (of Thestand4rd) open the show. $12 / 18+ / Buy tickets

Weekly Set List: 4 underrated rock bands play the Twin Cities this week

White Denim

White Denim plays the Turf Club on May 31 // Photo via White Denim Facebook page

This week is full of some of the best and most exciting shows of spring. Here are four super rocking bands that will get your heart pumping and your feet moving.

Beach Slang | Triple Rock Social Club | Monday, April 25, 6pm

Beach Slang by Elena Vilain Photography

Beach Slang // Photo by Elena Vilain Photography via Beach Slang Facebook page

Philly’s Beach Slang seem like a relatively new band, but lead singer/guitarist James Alex’s punk rock pedigree traces back to the early 90s with the pop punk band Weston. While the band might consist of mid- to late-30-somethings, their catchy rock songs have the fury of bands half their age and have garnered comparisons to Vancouver’s Japandroids. Though online ticket sales are now closed, the show wasn’t sold out as of this morning, so tickets may be available at the door. $15 / 18+

Woods | Turf Club | Tuesday, April 26, 7:30pm


Woods // Photo via Woods website

Woods are one of the finest slightly-under-the-radar rock bands of the last 10 years. Their brand of woozy yet sunny folk rock is catchy enough to appeal to the indie rock crowd, while their instrumental prowess and psychedelic experimentation would impress most jam band fans. Their latest album, “City Sun Eater in the River of Light,” builds on the strength of their incredibly impressive nine album catalog. $15 / 21+ / Buy tickets

Frightened Rabbit | Varsity Theater | Wednesday, April 27, 7pm


Frightened Rabbit // Photo via Frightened Rabbit Facebook page

Frightened Rabbit are back with their fifth studio album entitled “Painting of a Panic Attack,” produced by Aaron Dessner of The National. The album continues these Scots’ brand of earnest English rock. Anthems like “Get Out” prove that Frightened Rabbit still have their sights set on larger stages, while still featuring plenty of heartfelt ballads that lead singer Scott Hutchinson is known for. $25 / 16+ / Buy tickets

White Denim | Turf Club | Sunday, May 1, 7:30pm


White Denim // Photo via White Denim Facebook page

Much like Woods, Austin’s White Denim are one of the more under-appreciated rock bands in America the last 10 years. 2013’s “Corsicana Lemonade” was produced by Jeff Tweedy of Wilco, while their latest album (and possibly their best), “Stiff,” was produced by Americana super-producer Ethan Johns. The record features easily some of the finest gritty rock riffs of the year. While some songs evoke hints of early Black Keys, many others lean more classic rock a la The Allman Brothers. It’s an infectious, high-energy album that will translate well to their already great live show. $15 / 21+ / Buy tickets