I don’t think I could name off all of the people that I saw on stage last night. Part of it is that the show was part of a scene I only dabble in but the other part is because there were just so many people that graced the stage at First Avenue last night. Regardless, it doesn’t really matter. Last night was about getting together, having a good time, listening to great music, and raising money for an amazing cause so that’s exactly what my friends and I did.
Friday night was the final night of a month long residency from Andrew Broder. The three previous concerts were held at The Turf Club in Saint Paul but last night’s was at The First Avenue Mainroom due to the big names on the line-up including Marijuana Deathsquads and Low. Each night of the residency had all proceeds going to a different charitable cause. Friday night’s proceeds went to Appetite for Change– a non-profit based out of North Minneapolis that helps get healthy food into an area that, as the representative put it, is a food swamp– not a food desert (she explained that there was food in the area, just not very good food so you can’t really call it desert– it’s more just like a swamp). Whether you went to the show just to help the cause or went because of the star-studded line-up, you couldn’t deny that it was a beautiful display of local thinking and support.
Now, back to this Andrew Broder character and the reason why he got four nights to do whatever he wanted to do. Andrew is a Minneapolis native with big musical talent and an even bigger heart. He has an ear for music and, although prior to last night I wasn’t familiar with his name, I was definitely familiar with his music. Playing under the name Fog, being a member of The Cloak Ox, and just being kind of all over the local scene, Andrew is definitely a force to be reckoned with. The way he is able to blend different genres and use his stunning creativity to create beautiful landscapes of music is truly jaw dropping and more than enough to warrant this guy getting four nights this month to do whatever the hell he wanted to. Add the fact that all the money from ticket sales went to a different charity every week and you are left with a person that many of us only dream of being. In a world with it’s always “me me me me”, Andrew reminded us all last night that there is so much more we can be doing to support our community both locally and globally.
As I mentioned, last night wasn’t really about the music– more about the cause and sense of community you got from being there but, being a blog about live music, I suppose I should give you a little tease of what you missed last night as far as the music is concerned.
The show opened up with Midnite Express right at 8PM and I was instantly in love with the night as soon as this pop wow drum group kicked off the night. The four men took the stage with small drums in hand and treated the modest crowd to traditional Native American sounds. There’s no denying that it was something completely different for me but it also set the scene perfectly for the rest of the night. The passion they had as they performed their quick set was beautiful but the way they instantly captivated the crowd and were warmly received by the audience was more beautiful. I was honestly a bit disappointed when the men left the stage after only three songs but they popped up throughout the rest of the night playing on the staircases between acts. A bit out of left field- yeah, but the beauty that Midnite Express brought to the night can not be stressed enough.
In // Via took the stage after Midnite Express’ opening set and treated the quickly growing crowd to dreamscapes that had you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. The vocals of Nona Invie were calming and full of a fiery passion that, even though the music was slower and almost a bit sleepy at times, had your ears stuck at attention. Nona, kind of like Andrew, is a face in the scene but I didn’t put it together while watching her last night. Having fronted a million groups including (but not limited to) Dark Dark Dark and Anonymous Choir, Nona’s voice is one of those voices that is distinctive in all the right ways.
Set changeovers were quick and after a quick song from Midnite Express from the stairs, eyes moved to the stage where Andrew Broder performed some of his songs that he did as Fog. The electronic sounds shouldn’t have worked well with the larger than life voice he possesses but somehow it worked perfectly and created a unique sound that had the crowd smiling and dancing along to the beat. The best part of his set (outside of the music) was the fact that each song seemed to feature a different person who had graced the stage previously or would be gracing the stage later on in the night. With a song with Nona Invie of In // Via, a song that featured two of the drummers from Marijuana Deathsquads, and then a song that brought out two members of Low, the sense of community was real throughout Fog’s set. Each guest brought a different vibe to the stage making the set constantly feeling new and keeping everyone’s interest. Even if you didn’t like a certain song, things were sure to change within just a couple of minutes when a new guest took the stage.
Fog’s set seamlessly turned into a set from Marijuana Deathsquads. Andrew Broder stayed behind his computer as the members of MD took their places behind the table of electronics and multiple drum kits. Without any hesitation, the group took over the speakers and blasted the now packed venue with their signature almost noise-like sounds. I always love seeing MD live and they were definitely the main reason I was at this show on Friday instead of all of the Super Bowl happenings down the street. I love the way that their music and stage set up seems like pure chaos but there’s still a sense of togetherness with the way they play. Their loud and abrasive music definitely stood out on the line-up of calmer music but the creativity and passion of this group matched perfectly with the rest. As the lights flashed and the vibrations rattled my nose rings around, I watched in awe and with a smile on my face as the group played through a generous set and the crowd danced along with it.
Following Marijuana Deathsquads was local favorites Low. The three piece were clearly a favorite of the crowd and were greeted with cheering as they took their spots on stage. Low’s music seemed to be the happy medium between the calmness of In // Via and the chaos of Marijuana Deathsquads. With eleven albums that date back to 1994, it’s quite amazing that Low has yet to forget their roots. Here is this band that is one of the better known Minnesota acts out there right now, playing a benefit for a local charity. Love this band or leave them, the fact that they took time out of their busy lives for this event is heart-warming and humbling and they were the perfect act to headline such a beautiful event.
I could have spent last night down the street at the free shows going on for the Super Bowl instead I went to a local show that was trying to better out community. The shows and events the Super Bowl is bringing to the Twin Cities are great but don’t forget– the Super Bowl is only here for a week or two– this community, your home, is here forever. Go out and join in on the hysteria but don’t forget that there are great events like this still going on that support our community directly.
Thank you Andrew Broder for being the musical genius you are and hosting beautiful, selfless events like this.