By Rob van Alstyne
By Zach McCormick
By Emily Eveland
By Jack Spencer
By Michael Madden
By Reed Fischer
By Emily Weiss
By Emily Weiss
Hex Marks the Spot
At best, it sounded like a really fun dare; at worst, it could have been a death march. Last Thursday night, Hex booking manager Chris Dorn teamed up with weekly events-list inbox-stuffers Minnie Indie to host an audacious lineup of 24 acts scheduled to perform seven-minute sets. In terms of both variety and brevity, it was as if the Hex were transformed into a Twin Cities rock jukebox. While the music never quit, each band got only a few plays apiece. Wait, did I say "jukebox?" That might be a dated analogy—maybe it was more like flipping through a few dozen MySpace pages, listening to songs while checking out pictures of the band.
MySpace pages are, after all, the currency of the realm for Minnie Indie. A collaboration between Hereos/Liars vocalist Brian Patrick and web developer Aaron Zee, the email-distributed indie rock events calendar—and its bare-bones companion website (www.minnieindie.com)—encourages subscribers to rely on MySpace links rather than critical recommendations. Zee considers MySpace a weapon in the fight for a rock 'n' roll meritocracy.
"A band could hire a designer to build a slick website, but we won't link to it—we only link to MySpace. It equalizes every band 'cause the pages are all the same," he says. After four months of networking with area bands and bookers to put together the weekly list, "We thought it would be fun to do a gimmick, a concept-y show. It turned out pretty well, because some of the bands hadn't heard each other."
By rights, circulating 24 bands' worth of musicians, equipment, and concertgoers through the Hex in under five hours should have been a logistical nightmare. Yet the evening turned out to be a breezy, casual affair that ran smoothly—and ahead of schedule. At any given time, 50 percent of the audience had either just finished playing a set or was waiting to plug into a borrowed amp and cut loose. There were two adjacent stages, so Faux Jean rocked the crowd while the Plastic Chords set up, and Birthday Suits were ready to detonate almost immediately after Vampire Hands finished playing.
The show didn't attract a full house of fans, probably because each act had only two song's worth of stage time. But for the merely curious, the combination of value pricing and snack-sized portions made for a satisfying meal. —Sarah Askari
MMA Shocker: Prince a No-Show
The annual festivity that is the Minnesota Music Awards always has a bit of a sock-puppet-theater feel—"Look Ma! We're a real awards show!"—but hey, the thing is old enough to drive, vote, drink, and rent a car now, so this 26th installment seemed as good a time as ever to just take the dumb with the delightful and call it a fun evening.
Many people did just that last Sunday night, although the night ended with the MMA crowd's "come late, leave early" reputation intact. As a perpetrator of the first half of that sin, I'll submit to the spirit of the MMAs by reporting on the first two hours of the evening via name-recognition and hearsay: The Get Up Johns, the International Reggae All-Stars, and ZibraZibra all turned in outstanding performances. Also, some people won some awards. These artists included Haley Bonar, Trampled by Turtles, and Charlie Parr. (Apparently I missed the "Best Country/Bluegrass Bands from Duluth" portion of the evening.)
There was no shortage of highlights. Like when Dave Matters, frontman of the Belles of Skin City (who lost out to the Plastic Constellations in the "Best Punk Artist/Group" category) spontaneously accepted Prince's award for "Song of the Year" (for "Black Sweat") with a spot-on impersonation of the singer's signature squeal. Or when Cities 97 radio personality Brian Oake (who emceed the evening with his former REV 105 colleague Mary Lucia) announced that Tapes n' Tapes had won the critics' award for "Artist of the Year," and then said, "Are they even here?" with the drummer standing directly behind him. Or when P.O.S. shyly accepted the critics' award for "Best Nationally Released Recording" by saying, "Go Twins," prompting nearly every winner thereafter to big-up the team in order to get a reaction out of the crowd (the Alarmists did this twice). Or when Birthday Suits absolutely tore it up with the most disruptive and energetic set of the night, after which the instinctively FCC-wary Oake responded with the most memorable quote of the night: "Holy freaking crap!"
But the best moment of the night came at the end, as the crowd dwindled to a handful of night owls, who were treated to "Best Hip-Hop Artist" winner P.O.S. and his Doomtree cohorts Dessa Darling, Sims, and Mictlan rocking the stage like the place was packed. When P.O.S. took control of the lower-level emcee stage for his "Minnie"-nominated single, "P.O.S. Is Ruining My Life," the mini-throng went nuts, hands shot into the air, and Oake, watching from the wings, said under his breath, "Holy fucking shit!" But that's only hearsay. —Chuck Terhark