ELKHORN, WISCONSIN—Over labor day weekend, Pearl Jam invited a dozen of their friends, followers, and contemporaries to help celebrate 20 years since the release of their seminal debut album Ten (the band actually formed in October of 1990 though initially named Mookie Blaylock). The two-day concert took place at Alpine Valley in rural Wisconsin (sandwiched between Madison and Milwaukee) and featured The Strokes, Queens of the Stone Age, Mudhoney all gracing the main stage in the evenings, while Glen Hansard (The Frames/Swell Season), John Doe (X), Joseph Arthur, Liam Finn and others alternating on two side stages during the afternoon. Saturday’s early lightning and rainstorms threatened to put an early damper on the weekend celebration, but luckily after a short 45-minute delay, the festivities kicked off with the more dedicated fans braving the occasional rainfall and by mid-afternoon they were already back on schedule.
Dntel (aka: Jimmy Tamborello) is and likely always will be best known for his work with Ben Gibbard and Jenny Lewis as the mastermind behind The Postal Service’s fantastic 2003 album Give Up, but he’s put out a handful of great albums on his own as well. Tamborello’s most recent output is a pair of EPs—After Parties 1 & 2—that were released on Sub Pop in late 2010.
Just over a decade since A Perfect Circle‘s previous show at Roy Wilkins Auditorium (they last played the Twin Cities at the Xcel Energy Center in 2003), the band returned to St. Paul offering little in the way of excitement and freshness after their six-year hiatus.
At the Varsity Theater on June 14, the Mountain Goats launched their summer tour for their latest album All Eternals Deck to an ebullient, packed crowd. Opening the show was one of Minneapolis’s strongest new bands Communist Daughter, who likely made many new fans—including the Mountain Goats’ bassist Peter Hughes, who smiled at side stage throughout Communist Daughter’s set.
London six-piece folk collective Tunng played a very rare US show at the Walker Art Center’s McGuire Theater on Saturday night. The band consists of two guitarists/vocalists; a female vocalist; a keyboard/synth player; a percussionist who played various shakers, chimes, etc.; and a traditional kit drummer. I honestly expected their music to be a bit more experimental live, but their music is very much still pop music, just played with mostly folk instruments.
Touring ahead of their new album Laugh Now Laugh Later, due out next week, southern California’s Face to Face are also celebrating their 20th anniversary this year. Lead singer/guitarist Trever Keith is the only founding member left, but guitarist Chard Yaro has been in the band since their breakout sophomore album Big Choice in 1993 and bassist Scott Shiflett (brother of Foo Fighters guitarist Chris Shiflett) since 1995. The band had broken up in 2004 only to reunite four years later for a handful of shows, and have been touring quite a bit since, most recently as part of last year’s Warped Tour.
Chicago singer-songwriter Joe Pug is hardly a household name, but considering the fervor and intensity which he performs in concert and the exhuberance with which his dedicated fan base reacts to his songs, you would never know it. Pug hasn’t been performing all that long, but his voice and lyrics are wise beyond his 25 years. Vocally he recalls John Hiatt, and stylistically he is often compared to legends such as Woody Guthrie, Steve Earle, Johnny Cash, and Bruce Springsteen.