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Gastro Non Grata at First Avenue, 6/27/10

Gastro Non Grata June 27, 2010 First Avenue Last night in the First Avenue Mainroom, 7th Street Entry and Record Room, Gastro Non Grata pulled off a pretty freakin' incredible feat: assemble three rooms full of hungry music fans and present to them nine bands, three DJs, four chefs and somethin' like six restaurant and beer sponsors, and wrap the whole show up on a Sunday night early enough to ensure the approximately dozen underage performers playing the final set of the evening are home before curfew.

Yowza.

Gastro Non Grata at First Avenue, 6/27/10
Photo by Nikki Miller

It was a genius setup, with musical sets overlapping one another from Mainroom to Entry to Record Room, guaranteeing neither a dull nor quiet moment. And as if that wasn't enough to occupy your adult-onset ADHD, sponsoring chefs and restaurants were cooking up everything from oysters and cupcakes to hot dogs and duck liver pâté bánh mì for hungry souls seeking temporary respite from the music.

Gastro Non Grata at First Avenue, 6/27/10
Photo by Nikki Miller

Kicking off the show at 6PM sharp was Minneapolis's newest supergroup-style assemblage of folks who've played in every band ever: Pink Mink. The foursome, which has only played a handful of shows, seemed to already have a loyal following of handclappers watching in the front row -- in this case a gaggle of young men pressed against the front of the stage, watching in the kind of awestruck way only a young male fan watching a band fronted by two women who (typical talk of the ladies being lovely and all that aside) can own a stage and shred a guitar can. Watching Christy Hunt (of Ouija Radio, Von Bondies fame) and Arzu Gocken (of Selby Tigers, Strut and Shock fame), these boys were positively dazzled. That is of course saying nothing of the rhythm section, one of the most solid in town (Charles Gehr of Ouija Radio/Seawhores and Jacques Wait, producer/engineer/played with a wholelottabands extraordinaire). But when you're an awestruck young man, the male rhythm section is perhaps less important.

Gastro Non Grata at First Avenue, 6/27/10
Photo by Nikki Miller

From there, we hopped on over to the Entry to check out the Guystorm. I've seen these guys one hundred and one times and last night they were sounding tighter than ever, perhaps because it was Sunday night and so early that Andy Rooney was likely still hemming and hawing about pencils or umbrellas with fifteen minutes left to go of 60 Minutes, and so the band just wasn't drunk yet. But what I was noticing last night was purely aesthetic: singer Angelo Pennacchio and guitarist Ryan Norton were dressed as if they were anglin' for spots in Jefferson Airplane about the time before Grace Slick went nuts and the band went Starship.  

Gastro Non Grata at First Avenue, 6/27/10
Photo by Nikki Miller

Back in the Mainroom, Private Dancer have taken the stage, a band I've seen perhaps one hundred and two times, and still, though their collective showmanship is entertainment at its best, I am amazed even more at one other thing: the amount of sweat produced by bassist Jesse Kwakenat's noggin (and of course, the heart-warming quality of his smile).

Gastro Non Grata at First Avenue, 6/27/10
Photo by Nikki Miller

Bounce back to the Entry for Fuck Knights. Back to the Mainroom for Unknown Prophets. Back to the Entry for Moonstone. I really, really need a cupcake -- this is a lot of work. Moonstone wins most photogenic band of the night, preacherman Micah Mackert with hot dog in hand preaching tonight not Lunarian scriptures, but the Gospel of Sausage, and Seth Rosetter in the tightest pants known to man or Lunarian.

Lunarian notations - or perhaps directions to the mall - and hot dog
Lunarian notations - or perhaps directions to the mall - and hot dog
Photo by Nikki Miller

From there, we run back to the Mainroom to find Birthday Suits have already almost dashed their way through their entire set. When you see Birthday Suits on stage, you see the very definition of stage presence. You take two guys who are in person a couple of the most polite and mild-mannered guys you know, then see them loud and intense and jumping off shit onstage. As a friend noted, regarding the School of Rock kids who were watching in the wings before their own set, "Those kids are learning something." Yes indeed they are, friend.

Gastro Non Grata at First Avenue, 6/27/10
Photo by Nikki Miller
Gastro Non Grata at First Avenue, 6/27/10
Photo by Nikki Miller

And speaking of intense, Jeff Mitchell and Craig Drehmel, the founders of Gastro Non Grata and our hosts for the evening, claim the stage once again to distribute their "dead meat door prize," donated by Clancey's Meats and Fish. Craig offers this nugget of wisdom: "When you say intensity, I think beef liver." And with that, some lucky winner wins a hunk of meat. It don't get better than this.

 

Gastro Non Grata at First Avenue, 6/27/10
Photo by Nikki Miller

Wrapping up the night, Rifflord has taken over the Entry and School of Rock, the Mainroom stage. Yes, that School of Rock. The Jack Black kind. Young kids go to school to learn how to rock and their final project is to perform a bunch of songs by bands older than their parents to a crowd full of music fans who are totally buying it. These kids stole the goddamned show, and their parents were in the pit with cameras to document.

Since I met Gastro co-founder Craig Drehmel, he's always been telling me about his big ideas, and I'm always wondering how the hell he's gonna pull it off. Three rooms of music, awesome food, and seriously, a bunch of minors bringing down the house at an early enough hour that we can all go home early to bed. Because I hate using that one congratulatory word, in thanks for all the great food they've shared over the years with so many music geeks, next I see them I'd like to hand Craig and Jeff a Kudos bar. M&M, or S'more flavored. Your pick.

Personal Bias: Writer is friends with the Gastro guys. Writer is friends with some people in some of these bands. Writer is a fan of free food and free beer. Writer is afraid free food and free beer will be cut off if nice things are not said. Writer is lying about that last part in an attempt to be humorous; in truth, writer was truly impressed by this show. The Crowd: Hipsters who walk out of the room when teenagers cover the Eagles (hipsters hate the Eagles), hungry people mowing on hot dogs and sucking down oysters, and moms. Overheard in the crowd: "What is this band? Effervescence?" "No, Evanescence." - Alex Achen of Private Dancer, being fact-checked during cover by School of Rock. Random Notebook Dump: and kids, thanks for playing eagles "hotel." you oughtta know (ps if you cover that next you're my new bffs), hipsters claim to hate eagles, but they actually love eagles. thanks for giving us hipsters an opportunity to rock out to the eagles... oops spoke too soon. i had that notion while in the can; when i walked out again i saw the hipsters had cleared the floor. note: don't play the eagles again. unless you do "desperado" or "i can't tell you why" - pretty sure those are okay. Set List: As if. For more photos: See our complete Gastro Non Grata slideshow.


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