New shit, all the time: That’s the mantra of New Sh!t Show Minneapolis. Every third Friday of the month, featured performers mount the stage with scratch paper and notebooks in hand, reading off of napkins or reciting freshly penned poetry, prose, and pontifications.
However, the Minneapolis version is different from sister factions peppered across the U.S. Here in the Twin Cities, performers are just as likely to saunter up with a guitar or a MIDI-controller, or even break into an a cappella composition.
Ahead of New Sh!t Show's third anniversary show Friday at Tatterwood Gallery in Uptown, City Pages set out to learn more about how a national literary series became a genre-hopping goldmine once rooted down in Minneapolis.
As it turns out, NSS Minneapolis has been fiercely interdisciplinary “since the inception of the idea,” producer/host Lewis Mundt explains. Without moving too far from it’s literary roots, the series intentionally incorporates musicians, comedians, and improv artists into the bill with regularity, adding more X-factors to an already unpredictable mix.
“There’s a difference between what music and live literature ask of an audience," Mundt muses. "Live literature asks for a lot of attention. By nature, the audience has to pay attention. With music, an audience can gravitate towards it on their own terms.”
Mundt stresses balance.
"It allows the audience to take little breaks and maintain a symbiosis between the stage and the audience," he says.
Electronic musician and composer Jake Rudin feels the NSS Minneapolis audience is especially engaged.
"It felt like performing at any other show except that the audience was receptive in a way that I don’t usually encounter," he says. "Maybe it’s not my place to say, but it seemed like because they experienced poetry beforehand, they were listening for different things in my music.”
Rudin describes the performance as "conversational."
"I was in dialogue with the other performers in a way that seemed to have meaning," he says. "It’s different than a purely music show because in those cases, you’re often paired with other acts for entertainment.”
While each month’s featured performers are carefully curated, NSS Minneapolis also includes an open-mic portion to each event. In doing so, the series bridges the space between established and upcoming artists in a way that feels effortless.
"it’s a truly open stage," Mundt says. "It’s so important to be keeping the doors open to the arts world – not just for specific people, but for everyone.”
The plan for Friday's anniversary show is for 30 artists to perform totally new shit for three minutes each -- to both contribute and celebrate all the strange, beautiful, awkward, heartbreaking moments that have graced the New Sh!t stage in the last 36 months.
"The show, by nature, is a gamble," a bemused Mundt explains. "You’re watching a bunch of performers do something that they’ve never done before in front of a crowd that has no idea what they’re about to see. I mean, why would anybody want to come to that? It’s like a mystery prize. People will show up for the unknown. People are out there, looking for ways to support creativity.”
New Sh!t Show Minneapolis
When: 8 p.m. Fri., April 21
Where: Tatterwood Gallery
Tickets: $5-$10; more info here