The true Minneapolis music fans showed up for First Ave’s annual “Best New Bands” show on Wednesday night. Best New Bands was presented in partnership with local favorites – The Current, Radio K, and new comers on the block, Go96.3. Hosting the evening were the beloved Andrea Swenson from The Current’s Local Show, along with Sylvia Jennings from Radio K and Myles the DJ from Go96.3. The evening truly was a celebration of all things Minnesota music. As Colin Campbell (of Colin Campbell and The Shackletons, openers of the evening) said, “I don’t know if there’s a better deal in town — to get this much kick-ass local music at a price like this.” The lineup featured seven great local acts which really highlighted the ever eclectic and ever changing Twin Cities music scene.
Colin Campbell and The Shackletons
Kicking off the evening shortly after 7:30 was Colin Campbell and The Shackletons, three-piece rockers (and brothers) hailing from Stillwater, MN. Last night they were supported on stage with Jake Kemble, formerly of Kick. Just minutes into their set, it was clear why they snagged a spot at Best New Bands. Their live energy was absolutely contagious. First Ave was slowly filling up when they took to stage, but they played through their roughly twenty-minute set like they were headlining a sold-out mainroom. Their vibe is totally reminiscent of The Replacements or early Soul Asylum, and other great punk rock acts from Minneapolis. Colin Campbell, frontman, was endearing and charming on stage. During their set he told a story from his “youthful years of 19,” which was just a year ago he admitted, when he was living in Washington state. He talked about traveling to the magical land of Vancouver where 19-year-olds can drink and going to a James Bay Concert. “So this is a song about being Drunk in Vancouver,” Colin said, before launching into the aptly titled “Things I Learned While Drunk in Vancouver” off their debut EP – The Horizon Lines. It’s a feeling that we all remember and can relate to – being underage, being drunk, and feeling unstoppable. Stay tuned for more to come from these brothers.
Next up was Lady Midnight supported on stage by DJ Keezy. Lady Midnight’s performance could not have been more different than the previous act on stage, but that’s what is so unique about Best New Bands – it’s a platform for such a diverse roster of artists. Lady Midnight is one of those artists that you can’t quite put your finger on – she really can’t be compared to anything else right now. She seems to be completely in a league of her, which is refreshing from so many cookie cutter and predictable acts. From dreamy, ambient vocals to heavy bass – her performance definitely warmed up the Main Room.
Sleeping Jesus hailing from Winona, Minnesota was the third act to grace the stage. They thanked Minneapolis for adopting them and welcoming them as their own. Hey, Winoia is still local. This five piece group, with twangy guitars and 70s inspired synth had a definite Burger Records feeling, reminiscent of The Growlers and other great Southern California surf rock bands.They hit their stride mid way through set and even got some of the hipsters of Minneapolis dancing. Sleeping Jesus, rockers from the landlocked Midwest, brought a sunny California vibe to the Twin Cities last night.
Nazeem and Spencer Joles
Perhaps the highlight of the evening was Nazeem and Spencer Joles – rappers hailing from the Southside of Minneapolis. This was Twin Cities Media third time covering these guys this month, but we can’t get enough. They are one of those acts that their live performance rivals their record (which is banger by the way). Some of the typical Current listeners might not have been prepared for the fire that was Nazeem and Spencer Joles’s performance, but that didn’t stop them from giving a 110% performance and leaving it all on the stage. Their vibe and chemistry is one to be witnessed live. Stay tuned as we will hopefully be seeing plenty, plenty more from Nazeem and Spencer Joles in 2017.
Minneapolis’ darlings, Tony Peachka took to the stage shortly after 10:00 pm. Although the crowd was thinning out over the evening, the Tony Peachka fans were definitely out in full force, giving plenty of love from the crowd. Tony Peachka’s live performance calls to mind the great Riot Grrls of the early 90s, like Sleater Kinney or Bratmobile. We were also reminded of Minnesotan legends Babes in Toyland. “So this is Tony Peachka on bass. And Tony Peachka on guitar. And oh that’s Tony Peachka on drums, and I’m Tony Peachka” lead singer Melissa Jones joked. Oh – and they have a song about Gossip Girl, so if that isn’t reason enough to love these girls, I don’t know what is.
Synth-pop duo Fraea was second to last for the evening. We first saw Fraea when they opened for Communist Daughter early this fall. Fraea’s vibe is very minimalistic, giving them a cool Euro feeling. Their heavy synth driven beats are catchy and dancy, just what the Twin Cities needed on this Wednesday evening.
Finally closing out the evening was The Current’s darlings Tabah – who have been generating a good buzz around Minneapolis the past couple months. Tabah frontwoman Cecelia Erholtz commanded the stage like a seasoned pro, with support from her polished band. The crowd absolutely ate up their performance. “Thanks for coming out. I know it’s a Wednesday, I know it’s January. These are hard months, but thanks for coming out,” Erholtz said, spoken like the true Minnesotan she is. Tabah’s album is set to drop in March.