Soul Asylum Sells Out First Avenue With Perfect Show


It felt so good to be back in Minneapolis and be back at a show. Sure, spending the holidays with my family was great and I realized that maybe, deep down, I miss the slow and calm nature of Des Moines, Iowa but I was also about to go crazy if I didn’t get to a show soon. I was exhausted having just gotten done with the boring drive that is I-35 but that wasn’t going to stop me from squeezing at least one more show in before the year ends. 

Porcupine kicked things off and although I’ve seen these guys numerous times at this point, I still felt excited for what they would bring to the First Avenue mainroom. Fronted by Casey Virock with Ian Prince on drums and the legendary Greg Norton (of Husker Du fame) on bass, this band never fails to nail it and last night was no different. Their quick opening set was full of a 90’s nostalgic vibe while feeling very current somehow. Their set was energetic but not over the top and although I definitely could have used a little bit of a rowdier crowd to help me get over my exhaustion, Porcupine’s music and stage presence did the trick. It was no surprise to me that their set was flawless but other people around me must have never seen this band before because as soon as they left the stage, the roar of conversations around me revolved around how impressed everyone was with this band. 

Up next was the main reason for me powering through my current state of exhaustion- Local H. My buddy has been talking up this band to me for years and this was my chance to finally check them out for myself. He prepped me for what was about to happen by explaining that their music is just good old fashioned rock and roll and that I was going to be shocked by the amount of sound and power this duo could produced. I listened to what he said but took everything in with a grain of salt as to be able to go into the set with no pre-conceived opinions about this band but, as soon as guitarist/ vocalist Scott Lucas and drummer Ryan Harding took the stage and jumped into their set, everything my friend had told me made sense.

I’ve seen a million hard working bands over the years but it instantly became clear to me that Local H may be one of the hardest working bands out there. With eight full length albums out dating back to 1995 and over a dozen other random releases, this band seems to have never missed a beat since their start in 1987. Sure, there have been line-up changes and they started as a trio but took the current duo form back in 1991 but it was clear that their current formation is gold. The two men powered through their set with a sense of energy that definitely had me sold on the group. Although I only recognized one or two of the songs they performed, it was clear that the audience had been waiting for this moment as majority of those in the front rows screamed along to every word to every song. The energy was electric to say the least and I hate to admit that my friend was right but he nailed it when he told me I would be impressed by the sound and energy that these two men could produce. I’ve always just kind of rolled my eyes when my buddy goes all fan girl on Local H but after seeing them perform last night, I get it and definitely wouldn’t hate going to see them again.

Closing out the sold out post-holiday show was the one and only Soul Asylum. Living in Minneapolis has given me the chance to catch this legendary band multiple times now but, like catching Porcupine live, it never seems to get old. Formed in 1981 in, you guessed it, Minneapolis, Soul Asylum is one of those quintessential 90’s bands for me. Their music gives me such a feeling of nostalgia that it’s hard to stay away from their live shows because, as you know and as I often say, nostalgia is a hell of a drug. Soul Asylum’s Friday night set was full of new and old songs that had the entire audience singing along. I’m one of those terrible people that really only knew their hits (and I often refer to this band as one of the various one-hit-wonders of the 90’s) but that didn’t stop me from nodding along to all of the songs during their headlining set.

Soul Asylum sounded great but it was the atmosphere in the room that really made the night. It was Minneosta Nice at it’s core. With every accidental bump that happened to me while waiting in line for a drink or just waiting for a band to start came an apology. It felt like most of the crowd, myself included, was thrilled to just be out of the house and away from family for a couple of hours. The holidays are a beautiful time but they can definitely get to be a bit much. You could feel that in the air and it led to a night that was well worth coming back from Des Moines early for.

If last night is my last show for the year so be it. I always want to end the year on a high note and last night was definitely just that.