Spring always sees an influx of touring acts in Minneapolis. Most (smart) bands stay out during the winter, and summer means big festivals, so spring is rife with good shows to see. First Ave has been snatching them up like crazy. Here's a recap of what I saw last week.

Amanda Blank - Thursday May 28 @ First Avenue

After a number of appearances with the Spank Rock crew, and a few singles and cameos here and there (plus a rap on a Britney remix?), Amanda Blank is finally stepping out on her own. Her forthcoming album (on Downtown) is produced by XXXchange with help from Switch, and it sounded like it's going to be pretty damn good.

Her set opening for Santigold was extremely short; I think Blank was only on stage for about twenty minutes. Her tour DJs, Devlin & Darko (Spank Rock) brought her out, and she opened with a real bassline-heavy disco burner - I hear XXXchange in that one, and it sounded good. She has a really loose, positive, partying energy on stage, shimmying back and forth in short shorts, and she looked great doing it. Other moments during the show included a short snippet of some Junior Boys arpeggiation, and Amanda filling in for Naheem on a Spank Rock verse. I think the only reasons both Devlin and Darko were both with her was so they could all drive and party together, and possibly play after-parties on tour, since there wasn't much DJ action on stage - some scratched samples and sound effects, a little bit of hypeman from Darko, and not a ton else. Overall a good intro to Amanda Blank, short and sweet.

Somehow I got convinced to stay around for part of Santigold, who I don't listen to, and boy did I regret it. She opened with a snippet of her admittedly shit-hot collaboration with Major Lazer, "Hold the Line," but it was immediately apparent she wasn't actually singing much. Her back-up singers oozed a real holier-than-thou vibe behind their sunglasses, which would've been bad ass if their microphones had been turned on. There weren't even kitschy props like at recent shows from Katy Perry and Lily Allen - a giant cat head goes a long way. How people can justify paying to see something like that, and have fun doing it, I will never know.

Fischerspooner - Friday May 29 @ First Avenue

I wish I had gotten to see Fischerspooner on an earlier tour. The tour for #1 was a small legend in electronic music for its over-the-top showmanship and willingness to fuck with the audience. The tour for Odyssey featured a live band for a decent record that I really wanted to see. And even recently, Fischerspooner had been doing DJ dates with the fantastic Lauren Flax.

This tour, for the recently released (and pretty dull) album Entertainment, featured nothing besides Casey Spooner begging people to buy tickets on Twitter. There were two guys on the side of the stage, DJing or manipulating something unseen.. The rest of the show was a pretty low-budget, kabuki-influenced production. It was innovative for their limited resources, the lip-sycning was to be expected, and the choreography was great, but it never went past entertaining (ha) and into enthralling. It was a nice surprise when "Danse En France" segued into the D.I.M. remix for a minute. Overall, for what it was, the ticket price seemed exorbitant.

I unfortunately missed sleaze-disco-rockers SSION except for one song, and their show looked and sounded like it could be very exciting. The after-party, where Warren and Casey DJed, was a blast, I have to add.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Saturday May 30 @ First Avenue

I didn't actually go to this show. It was all ages and absolutely packed full. I might have considered bearing the crowd if YYYs hadn't broken my heart several times over by now. They even have a keyboard player for this album, and Nick Zinner's guitar does not need a keyboard supporting it. My guess is that when it was conceived, the band was never supposed to last this long, and along the way they've lost touch with what I thought made them great. I don't blame them for wanting to retain their currently huge audience, but I still miss what could've been. I will save my essay for another time.

Holy Fuck - Sunday, May 31 @ 7th St. Entry

I don't have much to say about Holy Fuck live. They are fantastic and I would recommend seeing them to anyone. I don't listen to them much on record, but I imagine they played a lot of new tracks, and they sounded great. The songs are simple enough and feature improvisation to the point where they might be considered a jam band if it weren't for the extremely detailed electronic elements of the group. Vocals, keyboards, circuit-bent electronics, and rows of pedals are all manipulated completely live, without help from samplers, sequencers or computers. Coupled with their powerful, talented rhythm section, the grooves and textures are fantastic. And it's obvious the band has been playing together for a very long time, all over the world, and in front of audiences big and small. They have a tightness that simply amazes. See them if you can.

I also got to see Third Eye Blind next door in the mainroom. They played "Motorcycle Drive By" and every single person sang along and I will admit I got goosebumps. I also caught set closer "Semi-Charmed Life" (yes, that song) but it fell pretty flat. Stephen Jenkins at various points was wearing a top hat, a cane, a tunic-skirt-thing, and a t-shirt that looked like it said Older Than Jesus. Yep.

1 comment:

jon jon said...

Santigold was dope, stop hatin' playa