There are many shows throughout the year that I look forward to and one of them is First Avenue’s Best New Bands showcase. Although I don’t typically agree with line-ups of “best new band” type nights, I feel like First Avenue always does a damn good job at picking the best and keeping the night interesting by having bands that span more genres than I can name. Last night’s showcase was no different than years before and although every band wasn’t quite for me, it was awesome to get a glimpse into what’s going on in the local scene.
The night started with Loki’s Folly- a band I have been wanting to catch but just had never had the chance to. The punky duo was the perfect act to kick off the night. Full of energy and a bit in your face, they had my attention from the second my friend and I stepped foot into First Avenue. Their wall of sound hit me in the exact right spot and the energy that the two sisters radiated from the stage was just as perfect as their sound. We may have only been one band in but Loki’s Folly was already a new favorite of mine.
Following Loki’s Folly was FruitPunchLoverBoy. I had never heard of this act before but was intrigued by the name and the stage set up that came complete with a couple of TV monitors showing colorful images. Definitely a bit more top-40 than I typically go, FruitPunchLoverBoy may never be one of my favorite acts out there right now but there’s no denying the talent and creativity he has. I loved the way that although every song was clearly FruitPunchLoverBoy’s, they all sounded different and brought a different vibe to the stage and room.
Muun Bato was up next and was another band I had never heard of prior to the show. Their music was a form of almost trippy and psychadelic indie rock that was calming yet energizing at the same time. Having just formed as a band about a year ago, I was a little surprised that these guys made the cut but, within the first song, it made sense. They had a sound unlike not only the other bands on the line-up but also unlike any other local band I had ever heard. Their take on indie rock was innovative and refreshing and definitely made them a stand out act of the night.
After Muun Bato was Under Violet. Their sound was the perfect one to follow Muun Bato’s set. It took the indie rock vibe that was laid out and expanded on it taking it to an almost folk rock world that kept with the calming nature that was reigning supreme. There was something somewhat minnimal about their set but somehow nothing about their music sounded or felt hollow which is a super fine line to straddle. The way that this group balanced that line without hesitation or any sign of struggle had me impressed by this group.
I’m honestly not sure what happened next as I was completely blown away by TheMae Simpson Band within the first song. I had never seen Mae before and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t too thrilled since I was expecting just a singer-songwriter vibe type band to take the stage and I honestly wasn’t in the mood for that. I was shocked as she took the stage and she and her band jumped into a set that would have my friend and I absolutely shocked and in awe. Mae’s energy was infectious and on point. You could literally feel her soul pour out with every word she sang and every note played by her band had a exclamation point attached to it. Powerful, strong, and everything I could ever want out of a live performance, I am so disappointed in myself for not paying closer attention to this wonderful performer. Having seen her now, Mae Simpson has definitely been flagged for my calendar and last night will surely not be my last time seeing her perform.
I last caught Green/Blue at the D4th of July show over the summer at Modist Brewing and fell in love with their surf rock vibes. They brought those same vibes to the First Avenue stage on Saturday night and reminded me why I love this band so much. Featuring members of local acts such as The Birthday Suits and The Blind Shake, the members of this group are not strangers to big stages and you could feel that as they powered through their quick set but, that being said, there wasn’t a sense of boredom or going through the motions to be felt anywhere. They may not be strangers to the stage but they still kept an infectious energy radiating off the stage and commanded the packed audience to follow every single note.
It had already been a long night. Although it all moved fast and every band was completely different than the last which kept the night feeling fresh, I was about ready to throw in the towel and just go to bed but not before the final act of the night, Nur-D, took the stage. I saw Nur-D for the first time a couple of months ago and instantly fell in love. I was honestly so excited to see him perform last night that it really didn’t matter how tired I was, I needed to feel his energy and see his giant smile before the night was over and that’s exactly what happened. First Avenue definitely nailed it by having him on the best new band night. I’ve been telling all of my friends about this guy since the fateful night that I saw him for the first time because he truly is, in my opinion, the best new act in the Twin Cities.
Dressed up as Space Jam basketball players which white jerseys, white tanks and headbands to match, the band took the stage to a roar of applause from the audience and wasted no time before jumping into a set full of his signture upbeat hip-hop music that I just can’t get enough of. I felt left out the last time I saw him perform as I seemed to be the only one not singing along to his positive and geeky raps but I was able to sing along last night and it changed everything for me. Nur-D’s performance is one of those things that I could gush over for paragraphs on paragraphs but if you weren’t there, it wouldn’t mean a thing to you. There’s just something to positive and so friendly and warm about him that it’s impossible to not instantly fall in love with this man, his band, and his music. From the horns blaring through the speakers to the fun and carefree dancing done by the entire band- Nur-D’s performance was the perfect ending to an already perfect night.