Night two of The Current’s 12th Birthday was a night to remember to say the least. One would be hard pressed to find a more eclectic lineup than the five bands who graced the mainroom stage on Saturday. But that is what The Current and the Twin Cities music scene in general is about – no two things are alike. I even chatted with my Uber driver on the way home about how it’s pretty much impossible to get bored living in the Twin Cities, even during these cold January nights. In case you didn’t make it down to the sold out mainroom on Saturday – here’s what went down.
Kicking off the evening was Twin Cities’ resident cool girl – Monica Laplante, aka the girl we wish we were friends with. Monica Laplate, supported on stage by her 3-piece band played through half hour set with ease and air of mystique. “This is a new song. Not as in like I wrote it yesterday, but we played it yesterday. I’ll stop talking now,” frontwoman Laplante joked. Laplante rocked the stage like someone who’s been doing this forever, her strong vocals and catchy hooks (see: Hope You’re Alone for reference) made for a memorable set. The crowd, Grain Belt tall boys in hand, were definitely at First Ave to party last night and Monica Laplante guitar driven garage rock set was the perfect way to kick off the evening.
Up next, with perhaps the most polished set of the evening, was Monteral-based rockers The Sam Roberts Band. This band is a great example of the inclusive music scene here in the Twin Cities – really welcoming this band as one of it’s own. As frontman Sam Roberts said, “Minneapolis is always a treat for a Canadian musician. We sometimes tune into The Current on our drives. And to know our music is being played in Minneapolis and around the world is a great feeling.” The Sam Roberts Band is of course made up Sam Roberts, who plays with the presence of a musician who should be selling out arenas, along with a saxophone/tenor saxophone player, and heavy keys, and the rest of the band. Their set featured a mix of older songs as well as new songs off their sixth studio album. A stand out of the performance was the infectiously catchy “If You Want It.”
The third set of the evening was ZuluZuluu, a band that’s been generating buzz around the Twin Cities and beyond the past few months. Beloved Current hosts – Jade and Mary Lucia, introduced ZuluZuluu. Jade talked about the first time she saw this band and knew she needed to book them for everything she possibly could, and thank goodness she did. ZuluZuluu is one of those bands that instills a deep sense of pride in being from Minneapolis, it’s a band you want to text your out-of-state friends about. As Jade said, “this is band you can get romantic to and damn the man to,” which is exactly what ZuluZuluu’s 45-minute set was. From the moment ZuluZuluu took to the stage, it was if the mainroom was transported to different decade or perhaps a different dimension. ZuluZuluu’s sound is somehow both old school and futuristic. Watching their performance was reminiscent of the great hip-hop legends of the 80s such as Run D.M.C., Slick Rick and Public Enemy – while also incorporating trip-hop/psychedelic and African-inspired sounds. Each member of ZuluZuluu was absolutely captivating to watch, each taking turns stepping out from behind their keys or synth/drum machines, to drop a few rhymes. ZuluZuluu defintely put the speakers and subwoofers to work in the main room last night.
One of the few non-Minneapolis based bands of the weekend, The Lemon Twigs, was up next. The Lemon Twigs are currently on tour, fresh off the release of their debut album Do Hollywood. If The Current’s endorsement isn’t enough for you, The Lemon Twigs also recently got a nod from Sir Elton John himself, as one of his favorite new bands. The Lemon Twigs is brothers Brian and Michael D’Addario, and Megan Zeankowksi and Danny Ayala, bass and keys/vocals respectively. The Lemon Twigs opened their set with “I Wanna Prove To You,” and the crowd was immediately taken by their charmingly awkward vibe. The U of M frat bros sprinkled throughout the crowd didn’t seem to know what to make of The Lemon Twigs, but by the end of their set, The Lemon Twigs turned everyone into a fan. Brothers Brian and Michael switched between guitars and drums about half way through their set, showcasing the breadth of musical talent these dudes have, at barely 20 years old. “So I did my hair really nice for this,” Michael joked as he took to the mic from behind the drumset. “HOW DO YOU SPELL MINNEAPOLIS,” Michael D’Addario yelled between songs. “M-I-N-N-E-A-P-O-L-I-S,” the crowd shouted back. “That was cool, that was fun. See we’re having fun,” Michael joked. Their performance was hilariously endearing and they absolutely blew the roof of First Ave with their boundless energy – jumping and kicking their way around stage. They closed out their set with “Queen of My School,” a track not on Do Hollywood. The Twin Cities was lucky to have The Lemon Twigs in town on Saturday night.
Finally, closing out of the evening was another one of The Current’s darlings – Haley Bonar. Mark Wheat (along with the entire Current staff) took to the stage to introduce their obsession, singer/songwriter Haley Bonar. Mark Wheat made sure it was known Bonar calls the Twin Cities her home, after relocating from South Dakota and a stint out of state. If Minnesotans are one thing, its proud. Proud of their hometown heros, and from the reception Haley Bonar received, it’s clear she is just that – a musician the Twin Cities is honored to call their own. The crowd was absolutely captivated by every single move Bonar made. She played a slew of songs off her latest album Impossible Dream, including “I Can Change,” “Kismet Kill,” and kicking off her set with the oh-so appropriate track “Hometown.” Bonar’s encore included “Down Sunny Roads” and “Called You Queen.”
If The Current knows how to do one thing, it’s throw a great birthday party making for a good weekend to be a music fan in the Twin Cities. But thanks to all the bands from the Friday and Saturday, that’s pretty much every weekend.