BEST CONCERT OF THE PAST 12 MONTHS (LOCAL) (2010)

Gay Witch Abortion and Knife World on the Mississippi River

For last summer's Art-a-Whirl, art-rock duo Gay Witch Abortion announced that they would turn themselves into a piece of living, breathing, pummeling modern art by mounting a small raft stacked with power generators and performing a set as they floated down the Mississippi River. The sheer implausibility of the stunt was enough to draw a crowd to the dock behind the Sample Room in northeast Minneapolis, but the real kicker came when they actually pulled it off. Earlier in the night, Knife World warmed up the crowd by playing a set of thrashing art-rock while onlookers donned white paper haz-mat suits and ventured into a mirrored room in the belly of a riverboat docked on the shore. And then, sure enough, drummer Shawn Walker and guitarist Jesse Bottemly dutifully set up their gear on a small, shaky raft, and held on for dear life as a speedboat dragged them slowly upstream and then released them to float past the gathering spectators. Though they were at least a couple hundred feet from the shore, their angular riffs and rhythms were only made more grandiose by the booming acoustics of the churning river tide, amplifying their songs and sending the music to the shore in surprisingly crisp and jolting bursts. The art and music worlds don't collide successfully very often, but Gay Witch Abortion are a band who masterfully blend both spheres to stunning effect.