With the announcement of Soundset last week, I’m reminded of yet another thing the Minnesota music scene does better: music festivals.
Though the headliners for this year’s Rhymesayers hip-hop festival are underwhelming, the inclusion of locals Sophia Eris, ZuluZuluu, J.Plaza, Nazeem and Spencer Joles, DJ TIIIIIIIIIIP, and Booka B continues a Minnesota legacy of leveraging big names to get hometown acts in front of a national audience. And it’s not just Soundset -- you see the same every year at Rock the Garden, Festival Palomino, even Eaux Claires.
Maybe one day Minnesota will have a national multi-market draw to headline a local fest like Chicago has in Chance the Rapper, R. Kelly, or Smashing Pumpkins. (I don’t Bob Dylan getting in bed with The Current anytime soon.) For now, the festival promoters in the Cities are doing the best they can to ensure that future.
Guante and Katrah-Quey -- “Our Relationship Is a Slowly Gentrifying Neighborhood” (Ft. Jayanthi Kyle)
“Your heart is still the only place I want to live, but I just can’t afford the rent.”
With that line, Minneapolis MC and spoken word poet Guante draws a seamless parallel between his estrangement from a recent ex and the rapid whitewashing of city neighborhoods. That metaphor is made literal in the video for “Our Relationship Is a Slowly Gentrifying Neighborhood,” as he and song producer Katrah-Quey play movers, gradually dismantling the song’s titular relationship one piece of furniture at a time.
The female protagonist, played by featured vocalist Jayanthi Kyle, sits idly by in the E.G. Bailey-directed video, watching the home she once shared with her lover become unrecognizable. Suddenly, the familiar becomes alien, until it’s just her and a wood floor. The song comes from Guante’s Post-Post-Race, which celebrates its first anniversary tomorrow.
Graveyard Club -- “Cellar Door”
Graveyard Club was the best band not picked to click in 2016, and nothing drives that home quite like the new visuals for their 2016 title track “Cellar Door.” Given life by director T.J. Schwingle, the video is an artistic addition to an already beautiful track, showing a despondent Claire DeBerg trying to cling to reality as it spins and melts before her very bed.
The song shows just how deep Graveyard Club’s repertoire runs. While a lazy listener might write them off as a New Order tribute band, vocalists Matthew Schufman and Amanda Zimmerman glimpse deeper influences, including Kraftwerk, Eurythmics, and even Radiohead.
Enemy Planes -- “Weightless” (lyric video)
Last week, I went on a bit of a tangent about how mesmerizing lyric videos can be. Maybe Minneapolis electro-indie band Enemy Planes took that as a challenge. Their lyric video for the Beta Lowdown track “Weightless” is presented in reverse: The words come to life as they’re destroyed in real time.
Brought about by the genius of band members Casey Call and Kristine Stressman, the video lends concrete imagery to a song that feels vast and sublimated. Though not a difficult band to listen to, Enemy Planes can soar into really opaque territory with their “trip-notic” style of music, and having the words as an anchor provides for a lifeline in their sea of reverb. Their label boss Scott Herold from Rock the Cause records indicates that the band’s upcoming record will be more “universal mainstream alt-rock” than the tunes on Beta Lowdown.
KPW -- “Hustling Metrics” (Ft. Mike Dreams)
Mike Dreams and hard-edged gospel rapper KPW continue their collaborative efforts in KPW’s most recent track “Hustling Metrics.” We’ve seen two videos from the pair in Local Frames in the past, but “Hustling Metrics” follows a new storyline, opting to tell a cautionary tale of a different stripe.
Championing wisdom over violence in the urban power struggle, KPW renounces the way of the streets in a tumbling, precisely timed verse. Aurora Borealis Pictures filmed and edited of the video, showing Dreams and KPW taking their rhetoric to the streets of St. Paul. The song comes from KPW’s 2015 album Black, The Default -- a bit of a throwback, but still relevant and empowering.
Astral Samara -- “Decentralize I” (Ft. Jeremy Warden)
The more esoteric a band is, the more exciting they can be. The truly beguiling Astral Samara – a product of Minneapolis/Eau Claire weirdo Alex Adkinson and his band of Rick Haneman, Ben Possi, Alex Leeds, Adelyn Strei, Cody Nelson, and Reb L. Limerick -- makes strangely undulating computer music that blends LCD Soundsystem, Bjork, and Windows 95 in a vortex of absurd musical moments.
To go along with the trippy music of “Decentralize I,” Dan Forke created a milieu of whirling 3D polygons and totems. Behind the non sequitur shapes and drastic zooms is a story that, according to Astral Samara, tackles “the relative nature of the perspective of self.” “Decentralize I” comes from the upcoming album/ontological theory booklet (?) Zonal Flows. They’ll be playing locally on April 14, but you’ll have to know someone to pass you the coordinates to the location.
Dream of seeing your video appear in Local Frames? Email writer Jerard Fagerberg at [email protected]