Brother and Sister's latest all-day music fest starts at Park Spanish Immersion Elementary School in St. Louis Park on Saturday morning. Toki Wright paces across the cafeteria with FranzDiego.com (no, really—that's his name), spitting stories about ladies, both the maternal kind and the ones he'd like to get numbers from. Wright kicks off some damn eclectic booking. Next up in the lunchroom is Cognitive Dissonance, a metal band with Cookie Monster vocals, which segues right into Knifeworld, a rock duo who try to lead the crowd in a sing-along of "Rock and Roll High School"—a project that is quickly aborted when it turns out that no one knows the verses.
At a nearby park, Knifeworld guitarist Jon Nielson shows up again as the drummer in Synchrocyclotron, a band of multi-instrumentalists in sequin-covered outfits who play slightly math-y songs with spontaneous outbursts of funk. Only minutes before, a couple of cops interrupted Mute Era's set. The music was fine, they said, but the audience members walking across the greens of a neighboring kindergarten golf tournament were becoming a problem.
The Blackthorns aren't a band that could have played in a park. They seem right at home set up next to the train tracks, playing beneath a stretch of 394. Electrified violin and banjo drive their industrial folk, but they're dressed up with junkyard percussion like hammer-pounded metal coils and sandpaper scratching old crates. A razor is dragged across a sheet of metal, causing visible shivers in the crowd, and I'm suddenly glad that this set is taking place during daylight hours. When Thaddeus Blackthorn opens his mouth, he lets out a desperate moan: "The hope in your soul will damn you to hell/The love in your soul will damn you to hell."
Faggot's extraordinary turn as scantily clad construction workers will be featured in an upcoming story by Peter Scholtes.
When we first arrive at the Soo VAC, a gold man is posed on top of a circular couch. He's not just dressed in gold—we're talking about a chick-from-Goldfinger, gee-I-hope-that-paint-is-nontoxic kind of thing. The living statue starts to move, first with an occasional tilt of the head or sweep of an arm. Soon he's practically pop-locking, his robotic jerks settling into place with a subtle bounce, like he's not just a box of gears but an elaborate system of pulleys and springs. Eventually, Snakebird decides to start his set. "Sorry, we're running late," says the golden MC. "It's my fault. I was just having so much fun up there."
After Snakebird comes NOW (pictured), Michael Gaughan's new non-Brother and Sister band, which combines the sleazy electro-pop know-how of Joseph Berns (Melodious Owl), newcomer Annika Kaplan's cocksure vocals, and rhymes from Gaughan (a.k.a. MC Icerod). It also involves some weird feats of strength and flexibility. The trio hang upside-down, sit on shoulders, and stand on backs, all while singing about "curfew and truancy, perfume and jewelry." The execution is a little shaky—like that of kids trying to emulate their first Cirque du Soleil show—but it's got potential.
Then it's back to St. Louis Park, where Doomtree play poolside at the city's aquatic center. Wish I could elaborate, but by this point I'm overcome by fatigue, not to mention the threat of hypothermia. Maybe going swimming when it's 55 degrees out is a bad idea, but Brother and Sister can make people do crazy things.
When Eclipse Records closed in 2003, many wondered, "Now where can I go to see the Hidden Chord and Malachi Constant play every week?" (I know, I know—the Hidden Chord had already broken up by then and plenty of other bands played Eclipse. I'm just sayin'.) But the good news is, the St. Paul record store is hoping to make a comeback in mid-August. Owner Joe Furth is in negotiations for a space near University and Prior that used to house a Wax Museum record store. Of course he'll also be bringing back the frequent all-ages shows. "Our goal is to have a state-of-the-art music venue inside the store," says Furth. After the original Eclipse closed due to noise complaints, he crusaded against a St. Paul ordinance that made it illegal for live music to be held at establishments that weren't bars or restaurants. And he won. Thanks for making noise, Joe.
New Record Roundup
This weekend is more crowded than any I can remember with CD-release shows. Here's what's new in the local record bin.
Quarter Acre Lifestyle—Self-titled
Thursday, Varsity Theater
Dark and heavy trip-pop from a group born in New Zealand
Shoveldance—Hot Bananas EP
Friday, 7th St. Entry
A soul-inflected trio who sometimes let loose a ska shuffle
Friday, Fine Line Music Cafe
More novelty rock about grindhouse gore, chili dogs, and kung fu
Radio On—Stallion's Final Romance
Friday, 400 Bar
Countrified pop-rock perfect for summer listening
Larry Ravenswood and the Aura—Stardreaming
Friday, Club Underground
Cosmic poetry over atmospheric guitar riffs
Tanzanian leader of Les Exodus releases his third solo reggae album
Gold Standard—Swap Meet
Saturday, Nomad World Pub
A funky jam band that favors punchy horns over hippie posturing
John Williams and Dean Magraw—Raven
Saturday, Cedar Cultural Center
See Britt Robson's review here
Saturday, Hexagon Bar
See above, and A-List