Local music roundup: Groups ask First Ave to ax Viet Cong concert

Viet Cong

Viet Cong

Update (Sept. 18): First Avenue sent City Pages a note about controversy surrounding the upcoming Viet Cong concert. "We take the concerns of the organizations who contacted us very seriously," the statement reads. "First Avenue prides itself on being an active member of our entire community, a place that fosters art, music, and entertainment for all. We passed the email we received along to the band who will be discussing it directly those organizations."

Update (Sept. 21): Viet Cong, feeling the heat, decided they will change their name. "Art and music are about creative expression," the band says in a statement. "However, our band name is not our cause, and we are not going to fight for it. This is not what our band is about."


The bloody horrors of the Vietnam War weren't enough to stop Canadian post-punk band Viet Cong from naming themselves Viet Cong. Multiple Vietnamese-Minnesotan organizations are taking notice, urging First Avenue to cancel the band's September 24 show at the 7th St. Entry.

Eight groups issued a letter/petition to the "legendary institution," arguing that a performance from the "all-white male Canadian punk band" would be "inconsistent with the strong values held by Minnesotans to welcome our refugee communities and to uphold an independent spirit in music.” The letter references the lingering "suffering and trauma of the Vietnam War where hundreds of thousands of people were killed by the Viet Cong and millions were driven from their home countries." 

The crass genesis of the band name, as described by the Guardian in February, won't win over critics: 

One thing that [Viet Cong] never intended to become a statement is the band’s name. They took it from [Mike] Wallace’s offhand description of [Matt] Flegel bouncing around while playing, and “kind of shooting his bass like a gun. I said: ‘All you need is a rice paddy hat and it would be so Viet Cong.’ We stopped on that sentence and thought it was a good idea, and now we get hate mail at every single fucking show,” concludes Flegel.

Earlier this year, Oberlin College canceled its scheduled Viet Cong show, citing the group's "offensive" name. The critically lauded band issued something resembling an apology, saying, "We never intended for our name to be provocative or hurtful." The Vietnamese Student Association of Minnesota is hosting a public discussion of the issue Sunday at the University of Minnesota's Coffman Memorial Union. Viet Cong played the Entry in March. 

In other Minnesota music news ... 

Always fan-first, Prince began selling the physical CD version of his new album Hit-N-Run ... for $25.58. The Purple One artifact is available at local big-box outlets, record shops, and on Amazon for reasonable prices ($14-ish), but true suckers can cop it from Tidal, the exclusive streaming partner, for $25.58. Reviews of the disc have been pretty brutal.

Rising local psych-rockers Carroll are streaming their eponymous debut album at Consequence of Sound. The record, produced by Jon Low (War On Drugs, Mumford and Sons), will be celebrated Friday at Triple Rock Social Club with Night Moves

The culturally specific old-timey vibes of A Prairie Home Companion's free street dance this Saturday will get a little louder. That's because throwback rock 'n' roller JD McPherson, last seen wearing a jacket in the scorching Rock the Garden heat, will cap an evening of meatloaf, dancing, and Garrison Keillor musings outside of St. Paul's Fitzgerald Theater. Click here for more info.    

Think-y, experimentally inclined local hip-hop faves Kill the Vultures just announced their first new album in six years. Composed of rapper Crescent Moon and producer Anatomy, KTV will drop Carnelian via Totally Gross National Product on Oct. 23. The duo will test-drive the new LP Sept. 26 at Icehouse

Finally, yesterday saw the release of videos from two local standouts: rockabilly scorchers L'Assassins and buzzy indie-poppers Bad Bad Hats. The latter video emphasizes the recent Women Laughing Alone With Salads meme. What a world.