Grant Hart at Sound Unseen, 11/13/13

Grant Hart at Sound Unseen, 11/13/13
Photo by Steve Cohen

Grant Hart
Sound Unseen Festival 2013
Amsterdam Bar & Hall, St. Paul
Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Grant Hart was the featured attraction to open the 14th annual Sound Unseen Fest in St. Paul. Director Gorman Bechard's Every Everything: The Music, Life & Times of Grant Hart was the first film screened of the week (review here), and after it showed at the Landmark Center, the show moved to the Amsterdam for an intimate solo performance.

See Also: Grant Hart: The film must have no lasting impact on my life

After Greycoats gave an opening set of spaced-out modern rock, the stage was cleared for the wry Hart. He opened his set playing an electric guitar featuring a collage on it designed by William S. Burroughs.

Grant Hart at Sound Unseen, 11/13/13
Grant Hart at Sound Unseen, 11/13/13
Photos by Steve Cohen

The set traded off between songs from his solo albums ("Remains to Be Seen," "My Regrets," "You're the Reflection of the Moon on the Water"), cuts from his recent Paradise Lost adaptation 'The Argument' ("Shine Shine Shine," "So Far From Heaven") and a couple of covers ("You Are My Sunshine," "The Battle for New Orleans") worked in.

In between, he cracked jokes, including one to a camera man wandering past ("I've still got your Sharpie!). His voice was at times raw, and others quite beautiful and heartfelt.

Hüsker Dü material was represented by "The Girl Who Lives On Heaven Hill," "Back From Somewhere,"  "She Floated Away," and "Flexible Flyer." There was also a laid-back version of "Never Talking To You Again," which at a couple points in the song was interjected with multiple chants of "Riemenschneider!" perhaps referring to Star Tribune music writer Chris Riemenschneider or the late Gothic period woodcarver Tilman Riemenschneider.


Grant Hart at Sound Unseen, 11/13/13
Grant Hart at Sound Unseen, 11/13/13
Photos by Steve Cohen

When the set seemed over he came back for Husker Du's "Green Eyes" and even when he probably thought it was done, he acceded to audience demand for one more song closing the show the The Argument's "Is the Sky the Limit."

Partial Setlist:

Remains To Be Seen (Good News For Modern Man)

Shine Shine Shine (The Argument)

So Far From Heaven (The Argument)

didn't note the song title (The Argument)

The Girl Who Lives On Heaven Hill (New Day Rising)

The Battle of New Orleans (Johnny Horton cover)

My Regrets (Hot Wax)

Back From Somewhere (Warehouse Songs and Stories)

You're the Reflection of the Moon on the Water (Hot Wax)

Never Talking To You Again (Zen Arcade)

You Are My Sunshine

She Floated Away (Warehouse Songs and Stories)

Fanfare in D Major (Come Come) (Intolerance)

Flexible Flyer (Flip Your Wig)

Green Eyes (Flip Your Wig)

Is The Sky The Limit (The Argument) a few more.

Personal bias: I've seen Hart play solo many times, but in light of the retrospection of Every Everything, I found his performance to be especially intriguing and rewarding.

From the screening: After the film, there was a relaxed Q&A with Hart himself, the director Gorman Bechard, producer Jan Radder and Sound Unseen director Jim Bruznell III. When asked about the favorite venues he's played, Grant's first answer was the big studio at MCAD, which isn't even a public venue. Also mentioned was O'Cayz Corral in Madison, which mysteriously burned down not long after he gigged there. It led to a tangent about Minneapolis' West Bank venue Dania Hall, which also burned down under mysterious, seemingly arson-like circumstances. His reverence for the long-gone Minneapolis venue was noted by the list of greats that played there like the Stooges, MC5, and Blue Cheer.

Grant Hart at Sound Unseen, 11/13/13
Grant Hart at Sound Unseen, 11/13/13
Photos by Steve Cohen

An audience member asked why Grant does all the talking in the film, and he noted that it was forced upon the production because he talks so much. It was also noted by the director that the film's format was inspired by Fog of War, Errol Morris' 2003 documentary about former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara.

Interesting note: The Amsterdam stage clock is still set for daylight savings time, leading Hart to wonder at 11:20 - "Is it really twenty after 12?"

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