MUSIC REVIEW | Rufus Wainwright charms the Minnesota Zoo

Rufus Wainwright occupies a very rare and important space in modern music. He makes pop music, he is popular, and yet he is decidedly not populist. What’s more is he appears to know this. It is with this confidence that he approached the stage at the Minnesota Zoo Ampitheater on a beautiful Tuesday night on June 24. After a brief delay, Rufus finally walked on wearing a shiny, silver suit—something he would refer to numerous times as the night went on—to cap a pleasant, playful opening set from his sister and tourmate Lucy.Rufus is no stranger to playing the Weesner Family Ampitheater at the Minnesota Zoo , and he made it known, calling the stage in front of the lake “dramatic,” as if the shiny suit was but an ironic touch. Continue Reading

MUSIC REVIEW | Damien Jurado returns to the Turf Club with his new record “Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son”

Damien Jurado came to town again for the second time in a year on a cold, but not unwelcoming night. The sold-out Turf Club crowd filed in completely just before the veteran singer-songwriter inconspicuously took the stage, walking up in his winter gear from behind the merch table in the back, through the packed crowd, up the side stairs, and then to the front of the stage to claim his guitar. It was a fitting entrance for an artist so consistently good, he’s almost forgotten amongst the pantheon of new artists filling their spots in the zeitgiest of modern “indie” music.  He played his first song, the opening track fom his newest record, then took his jacket off.The whole of Jurado’s career, like it or not, has been an exercise in simple, integral Americana songwriting. He has given his listeners record after record of amazingly beautiful, thoughtful, and understated songs, all encapsulated within his yearning, golden pipes. Continue Reading

MUSIC REVIEW | The enigmatic Bonnie “Prince” Billy returns to Minneapolis at the Cedar Cultural Center

How much of the artist is present in their art? The wall between Will Oldham and Bonnie “Prince” Billy has long been established by the artist himself. Oldham is one to shy away from most media appearances and interviews—and apparently from playing shows in Minneapolis too. Perhaps it’s the weather, but it has been nearly five years since his last show in the area. The venue was the Cedar Cultural Center, and its cozy, old ballroom setting could not have been better suited for Oldham’s intimate performance.Bonnie was making his last stop on a brief Midwestern run of shows, with label mates Bitchin Bajas tagged for support. Continue Reading

MUSIC REVIEW | Desaparecidos bring their politically charged punk to First Avenue

Desaparecidos’ frontman Conor Oberst is known first and foremost as the creative force behind indie giant Bright Eyes, a band he started in 1995, back when indie music just meant you were on an independent record label. Along the way, he has released two “solo” records with The Mystic Valley Band, and became one-fourth of Monsters of Folk—a band that also features indie darlings M. Ward and Jim James of My Morning Jacket. While his stardom in those projects has attracted both casual and obsessive followers, Wednesday night at First Avenue was the cult of Oberst, packed with an audience that knew front-to-back his quietly released punk rock record from 2002, Desaparecidos: Read Music/Speak Spanish.A crowd that had seemingly been in hiding since that album’s release emerged to transform the First Ave Main Room into what felt like someone’s parents’ garage. The music was loud, and the bands weren’t necessarily professional sounding, but it was just what the night’s theme called for. Minneapolis duo Birthday Suits opened the show with a fast-paced, high-energy set, with as much general disregard for vocals as they had for their instruments. Continue Reading

Father John Misty furthers his myth at First Avenue

Minneapolis has seen a lot of Father John Misty in the last year. The man behind the man, Josh Tillman, and his bandmates have toured relentlessly since the release of “Fear Fun.” Chances are you didn’t catch them when they sold out the small 7th Street Entry, or even when they came by last Halloween to play to the always-obnoxious Fine Line audience. But if you were at First Avenue on May 21, you saw Misty and company in all their glory—giant psychedelic mural backdrop, roadie stuffed tiger, disco balls and all. Continue Reading