In it’s second year the Local Show’s Artists to Watch brought 10 bands to the Cedar Cultural Center and took advantage of their new outdoor plaza to show artists on 2 stages. The result was a fast paced series of short sets that had 3 things in common: They were local (yes Mankato counts), the artists created quite a buzz this year, and not one of them played country. Curated and introduced by The Current’s Andrea Swensson the lineup represented a wide range of musical styles and in some cases it was my first chance to see them live.
The Mexican born artist and her band trace their roots to McNally Smith music college where they started as a school project. Tuiran told the story of her first guitar and the first song she ever wrote at age 15 and her Brazilian influences. Self-described as Indie pop/ Folk/ Samba, their sound is smooth and takes you right to the beach of Rio.
Good Night Gold Dust
The four-piece band from Mankato has been one of my personal local favorites since I first saw them at the Triple Rock. Their indie pop can go from dreamy to quite rocky driven by bass and percussion. In a first for me, they were greeted by a shout of “Nice nose hairs” from the crowd.
Introduced by Swensson as a “Sunshiny Band” they describe their music as “angry pop songs that smell weird”. The 4 woman band started off with high energy and their sounds have and almost beach rock vibe at times (but not the old-fashioned kind). When a rain squall had some in the audience flee the plaza, singer Melissa change the lyrics on the fly “Don’t go back inside…”
Five-piece band TABAH feels in many ways like a throwback to the 70s with a modern touch. In their first song “Closer to Cold” singer Cecelia Erholtz reminded me of Stevie Nicks, later in the set someone in the crowd yelled out she sounded like Janis Joplin. They just recorded their first full length album that will be released in January 2017.
Just turned 18 the St. Paul rapper flew in from LA where she was working on new material. At first she seemed a bit unsure of the audience (not your usual rap show crowd) but after telling them to come closer to the stage and warning them of “cussin” about to happen; she let her music take over and any apprehension disappeared. At one point she handed the mike to a girl in the crowd to contribute.
This stunning vocalist has been part of several bands, but it’s her solo act that won her a spot on this year’s roster. A great voice and magnetic stage presence drew in the crowd quickly. She is energized by her audience “When I look at you, look back at me” she called out.
Oh Holidae, what am I to do about you? I was going to be a good photographer and be conservative with taking pictures, and then you bring dancers? And let them loose on the audience? 700 pictures taken later………………..
BS aside, since Garrett Neal was out of the country Ashley Gold played a solo set. Some of the dance moves happened in the dark plaza, so forgive my fuzzy shots, but it was to good a show not to capture them. Just one request: If you bring fire to the next show, let me know in advance
Nazeem & Spencer Joles
Calling South Minneapolis home Nazeem & Spencer Joles were a complete 180 from Holidae. The Hip Hop duo is not afraid of outside influences. A horn section, punk sounding bits and a very charismatic back and forth between them gave their set a raw energy that was a step up from earlier bands. Brining out Reggae band Unknown Creatures for a song their set livened up the venerable Cedar.
In what Andrea Swensson called the most fun 180 of the evening, Porno Wolves were a throwback to the days of Led Zeppelin. From the heavy guitar sound, to the hard beating drums and Ryan Bachman’s vocals their music is good old fashioned rock. On a serious note they dedicated “Riddles in the Dark” to depression.
The duo of Jessie Daley and Drew Preiner closed out the night at the Cedar. Delay mentioned that since releasing “Bend your Bones” in the spring, they had broken 5 bones between the two of them. Covering the stage at the Cedar in smoke, FRAEA’s sound floated through the clouds and released fans into the night.
All in all, I would call the Local Show’s Artists to Watch a success. Despite heavy competition from other shows (more Wilco then Metallica I think) there was a good sized crowd for most of the artists and a chance to see bands one normally would not.