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
We interrupt your regularly scheduled 2012 election-season rage tweets with a special report: the 22nd installment of Picked to Click is here!
This is my first year behind Picked to Click, and I'll already say I'd much rather steer this band wagon (get it?) than a PedalPub. Regardless of how you'd rate this current crop of bands, we are certainly in a golden age for voter participation. With the input of 146 Twin Cities club employees, label owners, writers, and scene citizens, we have a weighted cheat sheet for hundreds of performers — and the 10 freshest of the bunch — vigorously keeping this music scene kicking.
Since I just moved back to Minnesota earlier this year, I've noticed Twin Citians often forget how good we have it. So many major metropolitan centers are nowhere close to being as hair-trigger opinionated as we are about our local scene. It's impressive that something as outwardly benign as a yearly survey of the region's new and underappreciated acts can be so reviled by some, but we've always been a little different here. Coming to it with fresh eyes, I take Picked to Click as a bit of nerdy, statistical fun, not an outright industry forecast.
This year, the votes clustered the top four artists within a 12-point range, which made for an exciting bit of spreadsheet-gazing as the ballots poured in. Voters who numbered their picks gave their first-place act five points, the second-placers got four, and so forth. The non-ordered ballots gave each nominated act three points. The ballots that nominated Y.N. Rich Kids in all five slots, or said "Reed, let's get a beer" earned points in my heart, but didn't change the ultimate outcome. —Reed Fischer
The winners of the 22nd Picked to Click poll:
1. The Chalice 83 points
2. Pony Trash 78 points
3. John Mark Nelson 71 points
3. Wiping Out Thousands 71 points
5. Heavy Deeds 63 points
6. Actual Wolf 58 points
7. Strange Names 39 points
8. Observer Drift 36 points
9. Prissy Clerks 34 points
10. Audio Perm 32 points
By Reed Fischer
"Our ladies' nights are really dope," asserts the Chalice's queen-bee rapper, Lizzo. "We get together and drink. That's how it started — with red wine. If it were liquor, it wouldn't get done. Making tracks, turning tracks into a song, and turning tracks into a banger is like three completely different processes."
Process number four is working on steps and transitions in a drafty, high-ceilinged practice space in northeast Minneapolis with cans of Pabst at the ready. "You want a drink?" asks Sophia Eris, who perpetually wraps her head in colorful fabric. After pouring something alcoholic for herself, she hands a bottle of water across the makeshift bar. Come to think of it, every interaction City Pages has ever had with the local hip-hop scene's new goddesses has incorporated liquid refreshments.
"First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you," F. Scott Fitzgerald once said. And though he uttered it in a state of enlightened intoxication long before rap music, there's something to his statement that applies to the framework of the Chalice. Except their drinking sessions aren't just taking Lizzo, Eris, and Claire de Lune in — the greater Twin Cities music scene is getting lit too.
"I want to impress the pants off the audience so that they feel like their time is well-spent," Eris says of the group's live presence. For now, it's time to work out miniscule kinks in the ensemble numbers embedded within an ambitious 19-song set. This is stuff like agreeing on which beat to bust into rapping the intro to Salt-n-Pepa's "Push It" after segueing out of their own song of the same name. And like everyone else who sips — and eventually gulps — from the Chalice, the guys in the four-deep funkatronic backing band, Sexy Delicious, wear the smiles of those who are pleased to imbibe along during this rehearsal.
It'll be another five days before the Chalice wear sequins, jewelry, and dresses while hoisting cups swirling with fermented grape. They'll be in front of a 7th St. Entry crowd packed with rapper friends and a dozen photographers. But you can already see the entire thing playing out in their glistening irises. They're even considering their end-of-show banter. "There's a lot of fucking people to thank; I could talk for hours," Eris admits. At this instant, their world is an enormous ladies night, and the trio's raw talent is the intoxicating stuff brimming from their goblets.
"One of the reasons it works is that I'm a Lizzo fan and a Sophia Eris fan," de Lune says. "And I have been since before we were in a group. I have a guess that if you put five-year-old [Sophia] on stage, she would've killed it. Lizzo owns the stage, owns the booth, and everything she touches turns to Lizzo." Lizzo's got the pure vocalist's back too: "Claire has a voice that is almost like an instrument. It's very rich and clear. She nails it."
After a fortuitous meeting at last year's Red Stag Block Party, a mixtape incorporating a bunch of females from the scene brought the Chalice closer together. Then there was the 12-minute blowout performance at SXSW that even a geriatric bartender got down for, and later what amounted to crashing the Minnesota Public Radio's airwaves party. "There's a lyric on the Current right now that says 'roll up up up in the club club club' and I'm proud of that," Lizzo says, exploding with a booming laugh. "That was not on there before."