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Best Twin Cities concerts 2012

Best Twin Cities concerts 2012
Photo by Erik Hess

The Gimme Noise crew attended a lot of concerts, festivals, events, gatherings, and what have you this past year. As is the case with every year in live music in the Twin Cities, the cacophonous noises etched history into the walls of our storied venues and into our minds. There were a lot of firsts -- and hopefully not lasts -- that highlighted the live experience.

Judging by what was said, written, and photographed in 2012, here are 20 of our favorite concerts of the past 12 months.

See Also:
50 Awesome Concert Photos from 2012

Best Twin Cities songs 2012: Staff lists
Best Twin Cities albums 2012: Staff lists
Best Twin Cities music videos of 2012

Best Twin Cities concerts 2012
Photo by Erik Hess

20. River's Edge Music Festival at Harriet Island, 6/23/12 & 6/24/12 (Slideshows: Music Day 1, Music Day 2, People Day 1, People Day 2)

"As with Taste of Minnesota, and many music events that have come and gone at Harriet Island, the location itself proves enticing -- with wide-trunked trees, ample patches of grass, riverboats that belong in a museum parked nearby, St. Paul's towering skyscrapers, trains chugging by, and the majestic water. Portions of the Live Nation-engineered event matched the majesty of the surroundings, and one could see the potential for a yearly pleasure center on some of the longest days of the year."

Best Twin Cities concerts 2012
Photo by Mackenzie Orth

19. Atlas Sound at the Cedar Cultural Center, 3/2/12 (Slideshow)

Sally Hedberg writes: "Yet, 'My Sharona' endured still, as did Cox's increasingly awkward interactions with the audience. He asked people to take their clothes off. He shouted seemingly intoxicated defenses about his art. He simulated fallatio. He, to the horror of the Cedar employees, told everyone to pick up their chairs and shake them above their heads."

Best Twin Cities concerts 2012
Photo by Anna Gulbrandsen

18. Crystal Castles at First Avenue, 11/1/12 (Slideshow)

Pat O'Brien writes: "Crystal Castles' set was just under way, but already there was a feeling that this was going to be like nothing the crowd had seen -- or heard -- anywhere before. It was like getting hit in the face with a cattle prod, and only got better from there."

Best Twin Cities concerts 2012
Photo by Youa Vang

17. Brandi Carlile at the MN Zoo Amphitheater, 6/20/12
Youa Vang writes: "Brandi Carlile is an artist that can inspire an undying loyalty in her fans -- fans who will sell out two shows during the week in a suburb and sit in the rain for two hours just to hear their favorite artist sing."

Best Twin Cities concerts 2012
Photo by Erik Hess


16. Amadou & Mariam at the Cedar Cultural Center, 8/7/12 (Slideshow)
Erik Thompson writes: "Some shows are just perfectly suited for the summer. Tuesday night's uplifting performance by Amadou & Mariam at the extremely sold-out Cedar Cultural Center was indeed one of those shows. The effervescent blind couple from Mali delighted the crowd with their distinct modern style of Afro-beat, delivering a 90-minute set that had both the band and the appreciative audience dancing the summer night away."

 

Best Twin Cities concerts 2012
Photo by Steve Cohen

15. The Revolution reunion at First Avenue, 2/19/12 (Slideshow)

A fully recovered Bobby Z got the band back together for a gathering to celebrate life, and the Roots' ?uestlove closed out the night on the decks.

Best Twin Cities concerts 2012
Photo by Anna Gulbrandsen

14. Amon Tobin at Orpheum Theatre, 9/6/12 (Slideshow)

Pat O'Brien: "So many electronic artists fall flat live, but Tobin could have presented the visuals to the tune of an Emergency Broadcast System test pattern and nobody would have minded."

Best Twin Cities concerts 2012
Photo by Erik Hess

13. Japandroids at 7th Street Entry, 7/03/12 (Slideshow)

Erik Thompson writes: "King then exclaimed, 'We're going to get weird now, I hope you don't mind. You're from Minneapolis, of course you like to get weird.' He went on to introduce "Continuous Thunder" as a slow song, but a slow song for Japandroids is still rowdy, and the simmering track still slayed. King even brought up the band's disastrous, whiskey-filled Minnesota debut at the Turf Club in 2009, joking about how one day they will play a free show there and it will be their 'Redemption at the Turf Club.'"

Best Twin Cities concerts 2012
Photo by Stacy Schwartz

12. Alabama Shakes at First Avenue, 8/2/12 (Slideshow)

Natalie Gallagher writes: "Sometimes I don't know what to say. It doesn't mean I don't love you," said a breathless Brittany Howard to the audience last night, as the Alabama Shakes were winding down their marathon show. "It just means I love you too much. So I come out here, and I sing to you, and I spit on you, but I'm just trying to express myself."

Best Twin Cities concerts 2012
Photo by Erik Hess


11. El-P and Killer Mike at Fine Line, 7/5/12 (Slideshow)

Jack Spencer writes: "The seasoned rapper's aura is kind of astounding; he seemed remarkably genuine and excited to be performing. A good chunk of R.A.P. Music was played, along with some classics from the rapper's previous albums and guest spots. His style is very focused on conveying his message, and every word he rapped seemed enunciated, projected, and felt by listeners. 'I never thought nine years into my career,' Killer Mike said at one point, 'that I'd be just beginning;' these words summed up his set well, showcasing years of experience but the heart of an upstart."

 

Best Twin Cities concerts 2012
Photo by Ryan Cutler

10. Girls Got Rhythm Fest at Amsterdam Bar & Hall, 5/11/12 & 5/12/12 (Slideshow)

Sally Hedberg writes: "As far as local music productions are concerned, news of the inaugural Girls Got Rhythm Fest offered something completely fresh in the realm of Twin Cities music events. For one, the lineup was zeroed in on a niche: women. No, not in a sanctimonious, Lilith Fair sense. More, a platform of information and celebration honoring a diverse spread of female-fronted acts who weren't afraid to play loud. And additionally -- whether intentional or not -- it gave St. Paul's Amsterdam Bar & Hall an opportunity to further establish itself as a more accessible rock venue."

Best Twin Cities concerts 2012
Photo by Erik Hess

9. Rock the Garden at Walker Art Center 6/16/12 (Slideshow)

"With precision that puts her among the great drummers of our era, the barefooted Garbus performed each tUnE-yArDs song -- many from last year's ebullient w h o k i l l -- standing behind a small kit and triggering sample pedals with her feet. No motion was wasted, and no sound from her vocal chords went unused as songs grew from loops into enormous things." Add in powerful sets from the Hold Steady, Doomtree, Trampled by Turtles, and Howler, and it was a seamless day.

Best Twin Cities concerts 2012
Photo by Steve Cohen

8. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at Xcel Energy Center, 11/11/12 (Slideshow)

"Multi-tasking proved essential as Bruce Springsteen attempted to touch, roll, crawl, and slide on his knees 'cross every corner of his stage, the long catwalk set up in the middle of the floor, and obviously into every beating drum inside the audience's chests. For how many people got to pat him on the back, slap their hands on his guitar, and scream into his microphone, it was never enough as far as he was concerned. This level of audience interaction reached a sweaty peak as the Boss fell into the masses and enlisted all the 'strong men and women' to carry him, wearing a 'don't you dare drop me' grin on his face, from the middle back up to the front of the stage during 'Hungry Heart.' Germaphobe he is not."

Best Twin Cities concerts 2012
Photo by Erik Hess

7. Soundset at Canterbury Park, 5/27/12 (Slideshows)

"We'll be telling the story about that storm for the rest of our lives," Brother Ali said of the massive thunderstorm that overtook Soundset in the middle of Lupe Fiasco's set. It came after a massive day of heat and live excess. Macklemore (above) & Ryan Lewis proved to be among the many highlights of the day that included Kendrick Lamar, Grieves & Budo, Aesop Rock, and oh so many more from the Rhymesayers family and extended.

Twin Shadow at Lollapalooza 2012
Twin Shadow at Lollapalooza 2012
Photo by Erik Hess

6. Twin Shadow at the 7th St. Entry, 8/6/12

From Erik Thompson's review of the first of two nights at the Entry: "A massive ovation greeted Lewis and his bandmates as they took to the tiny stage, with one fan asking straight away, "Take your shirt off." Lewis laughed, and said, "Already?" And with that, the band launched into a funky, bass-driven version of "Shooting Holes" which got the set started with a shot."

 

Best Twin Cities concerts 2012
Photo by Nicola Losik

5. Father John Misty at Fine Line, 10/31/12 (Slideshow)

"'Have a great Halloween, you Scandinavian vampires' Tillman teased as he left the stage." This would be Father John Misty's third performance in the Twin Cities in just a matter of a few months.

Best Twin Cities concerts 2012
Photo by Steve Cohen

4. The Afghan Whigs at Varsity Theater, 10/28/12 (Slideshow)

There's no way this show wasn't going to make this list. Afghan Whigs frontman Greg "Dulli showed the first of several stratospheric climbs with his vocal cords. As the night unfolded, more evidence of the "midnight rides" he now takes with his upper range flew at the adoring crowd like the sharpest of needles. This was a crowd ready to bleed for him."

Best Twin Cities concerts 2012
Photo by Erik Hess

3. Totally Gross National Party at Icehouse, 9/9/12

Icehouse proved itself a heavyweight music venue hosting a Sunday night party for the ages courtesy of Minneapolis record label Totally Gross National Product. Though Marijuana Deathsquads' Tamper. Disable. Destroy mixtape was theoretically the reason for the show, the night  also featured P.O.S, Polica, Slapping Purses, Solid Gold, Plain Ole Bill, MaLLy, Crescent Moon, Mike Mictlan, Andrew Broder, Leisure Birds, Tha Clerb, Tender Meat, Votel, Heavy Deeds and more.

Best Twin Cities concerts 2012
Photo by Erik Hess

2. P.O.S. releases We Don't Even Live Here at First Avenue, 10/26/12 (Slideshow)

From Erik Thompson's review: "How's home doing, y'all?" P.O.S. then asked us. "It's been a minute since I released a record. Thanks for sticking with me. Thanks for your insane support over the last couple days. I feel like I've been coming apart at the seams, but you all have helped hold me together with all of your comments and your amazing support." It was a touching moment from a true class act, and the only time Stef would address his health struggles during the show.

Best Twin Cities concerts 2012
Photo by Erik Hess

1. Twin Cities Funk and Soul All Stars at Cedar Cultural Center, 9/22/12 (Slideshow)

"There was a sense of the extraordinary at the Cedar Cultural Center on Saturday night," writes Dave Hoenack. And it's true. Rarely does one get to say that a concert is important. But rarely is there this type of history-defying ensemble on stage.


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