Twin Cities Year in Music 2012

From P.O.S. to Prince to Polica, 2012 was a golden year in Minnesota music

YN Rich Kids, featuring young rappers in a North Community YMCA after-school program, go instantly viral with the crunchy video for "Hot Cheetos and Takis." While bloggers adore the imagery of "hands red like Elmo," the Kids dodge interviews and line up a handful of performances in the months to follow.

Additional August highlights: Knotfest attracts an onslaught of Slipknot fans to Somerset Amphitheatre for a fire-breathing, rain-soaked day of metal fuselage. Jam, EDM, rap, and indie enthusiasts also populate the Wisconsin party grounds for the Summer Set Music & Camping Festival. Owl City unleashes comeback album The Midsummer Station, featuring the unavoidable duet with Carly Rae Jepsen "Good Time." Teen folk prodigy John Mark Nelson emerges with the touted Waiting and Waiting to an adoring Entry crowd. Hipshaker DJ crew celebrates its 10th anniversary at Kitty Cat Klub, while Long Doe Records reach 10 years with a party at the Cabooze. Mark Mallman's Marathon 4 has him recording a seven-day song as he travels in a van from New York to Los Angeles.


The supremely curated Twin Cities Funk & Soul: Lost R&B Grooves from Minneapolis & Saint Paul 1964-1979 debuts with a resounding boom. Secret Stash Records' compilation revives 21 tracks from the Valdons, Wanda Davis, Prophets of Peace, and Wee Willie Walker, among others. The Cedar Cultural Center hosts a sold-out release show boasting an all-star band and dancing admirers.

YN Rich Kids
Steven Cohen
YN Rich Kids
Sonny Knight, originally with Haze, sings with the newly reformed Valdons at Twin Cities Funk & Soul
Erik Hess
Sonny Knight, originally with Haze, sings with the newly reformed Valdons at Twin Cities Funk & Soul

After opening in July, Eat Street restaurant/venue Icehouse proves prominent as host of the Totally Gross National Party — a bacchanalian fete for Marijuana Deathsquads' Tamper. Disable. Destroy mixtape. Trading between outdoor sets on the side patio and the luxurious hardwood stage inside, the Deathsquads, P.O.S., Poliça, Heavy Deeds, Tha Clerb, and many more unfurl one of 2012's most body-blasting live events.

September's memories continue: Former Pachyderm Studio owner Matt Mueller is killed in a traffic accident in California. The Hip Hop Harambee, featuring Talib Kweli and Sims, debuts at the Nomad. Eventual Picked to Click champs the Chalice drop the We Are the Chalice EP at 7th St. Entry backed by Sexy Delicious — meanwhile, Mint Condition are their sexy, delicious selves in the Mainroom for Music @ the Speed of Life's steamy release party. City Pages cover subject Carnage the Executioner busts back with Respect the Name.


A bleached-blond Cat Power, a.k.a. Chan Marshall, berates and calls for the ejection of a pair of credentialed photographers, including City Pages' Erik Hess, early in her Mill City Nights performance. A mix of mortification and amusement erupts from the crowd — mostly the latter for non-press — and Marshall shakes it off to strut and serenade through selections from 2012's Sun.

Prince's dome gets revamped with an afro for his visit to The View to promote a trio of Welcome 2 Chicago dates. These shows follow eventually debunked rumors that the Purple One would perfom in downtown St. Paul. A jaunty song called "Rock and Roll Affair," which bears a passing similarity to "Take Me With You," debuts.

Let It Be Records' Ryan Cameron is dissed by Target when attempting to retrieve the letters "I" and "T" featured in his shuttered store's original signage. The store's old Nicollet Mall location is now a cushy office space for the company, and the "IT" is now mounted in a lounge area.

Additionally in October: Both the Minnesota Orchestra and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra cancel concerts amid disputes with management over salary cuts. Detroit dance-rock pranksters Electric Six release live album Absolute Pleasure, which was recorded at First Avenue, and put the venue's stage manager Conrad Sverkerson on the cover. Obscure experimental folk artist Jandek performs in Mankato.


The streets intersecting at Xcel Energy Center are renamed in honor of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band for the weekend of two soul-drenched shows in St. Paul. "They want to honor us, but not too much," the Boss remarks on night one. The three-hour concerts are a return to Wrecking Ball touring after campaign performances for President Barack Obama leading up to the 2012 election.

Estimable art-wave trio BNLX finally kick the EP habit after going seven deep and release a self-titled full-length album. Appearing tastefully on its cover is the group's fetching tour manager Wiggy Ackerson, a Boston Terrier. The two-night BNLX Fest is a commotion at Cause featuring the titular act, as well as buzzy electro duo Wiping Out Thousands and other musical friends toasting the release.

November also brought: Madonna performs in the Twin Cities for the first time in 25 years for two Xcel Energy Center shows — with mixed results. The Fine Line Music Cafe celebrates 25 years in business. David Byrne's Playing the Building exhibit, a vintage organ hooked up to a roomful of noise-making pipes and gadgets, comes to Aria in the Warehouse District. Guante and Big Cats unveil rap social critique You Better Weaponize, and Gay Witch Abortion burst back into relevance with Opporntunistic Smokescreen Behavior. Not long after Solid Gold break a long absence with Eat Your Young, former guitarist Paulie Heenan is killed in Madison after being misidentified by police.


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