As a transplant to Minnesota from Wisconsin, I’ve now spent over half my life here. I’m a cheesehead through and through, but if there is one thing that Minnesota has that Wisconsin has never had, it’s the music. The first album I ever bought was Prince’s Purple Rain and my first ever trip to Minnesota I actually met Prince, which is another story for a different time. A few years later I was living here and I won tickets on Rev105 to a local music showcase at First Avenue. There I was introduced to Zuzu’s Petals and the headliner, a band called Pleasure, which would later be known as Semisonic.
In the last few weeks I’ve been treated to both the stars of the current local scene and the past. First up, was Minnesota Music on a Stick at the State Fair Grandstand hosted by The Current. Featuring country favorites The Cactus Blossoms, the indescribable Har Mar Superstar, Cloud Cult, punk legend Bob Mould, hip hop collective Doomtree, and the rapper Brother Ali, only The Current could bring together such a diverse group for one show.
I brought Zoe to the show for her first rock concert. She was surprised how loud it was, but we got up close and personal for Har Mar Superstar’s set and Doomtree. She’s more into pop music, but she listened to all of the artists before we came and Doomtree was her favorite. It being her first concert, we had to buy her a concert t-shirt.
If I had to pick one, I was there for Bob Mould first, with Har Mar Superstar and Doomtree being close behind him, not to mention Cloud Cult. We sat in the bleachers for Cloud Cult and Bob Mould, which was probably the right call considering how loud Bob Mould can get. Twenty songs in 60 minutes? No problem for Mr. Mould and his rockstar band. It’s the second time I’ve seen him in the last couple of years, and he’s not one for a lot of chatter during his show, which is just fine as he played a great selection of songs from Hüsker Dü, Sugar and his solo material. Sitting in the bleachers, the program director for The Current, Jim McGuinn, was in the row across from us, and as we left the bleachers to down to see Doomtree, I had to thank him for how much I value The Current. (I would see him again at The Replacements, but I don’t want him to think I’m some kind of crazy stalker).
Har Mar Superstar’s stage presence is amazing and he brought rising star Lizzo along for the entire set. I’m pretty tempted to get tickets to his upcoming show at First Avenue. Volunteering at The Current almost ten years ago for an afternoon, they gave me a few CDs to go home with, one of which was Har Mar Superstar, and I’ve been a fan since. I shouldn’t have been surprised, but most of the people there only seemed to know of his last album, the soul music throwback Bye Bye 17. When Almond Joy and Tall Boy should have had the crowd moving, it seemed as if only 30% of the crowd knew of his classic dance songs.
We went down into the crowd for Doomtree and tried to find a spot where Zoe could see over all the adults. I’ve been a fan of P.O.S. for ten years and Dessa for the last few years, so it was quite a treat to see them all together. I was pleasantly surprised how almost all of them each also did a song from their solo repertoire, with the highlight easily being Dessa’s Warsaw for me personally.
And this past Saturday was The Replacements. I don’t know what I can say that hasn’t already been said, but it was just amazing. As a teenager, the Say Anything soundtrack introduced me to so many bands, and The Replacements were one of them. Within Your Reach may be one of their slowest songs and it was quite the pleasant surprise to buy one of their albums at age 16 and find out they were a punk band. I quickly fell in love. Out of the all concerts I’ve been to in my life, it has to be in my top ten. They played almost everything they could in their first homecoming in 23 years. Seeing The Hold Steady open for them was just a bonus, but Saturday night was all about The Replacements. A sold out show to 14,000 or so fans, a few years from now I think 50,000 people will claim they were there that night.