If Twin Cities Semisonic fans are feeling strangely fine today, it’s only because the locally bred “Closing Time” hitmakers have announced their first concert in over four years -- a January 7 date at First Avenue. Adding even more intrigue to the event, the three-piece will be performing their 1996 debut, Great Divide, in its entirety.
Semisonic -- made up of singer/guitarist Dan Wilson, bassist John Munson, and drummer Jacob Slichter -- formed in Minneapolis in 1995 under the name Pleasure, and released the first of their three albums for MCA Records the following spring. Neither Great Divide nor any of its singles performed up to the major label’s expectations (as hilariously recounted in Slichter’s music industry memoir So You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star), but a No. 1 hit was just around the corner with 1998’s “Closing Time.”
Despite its commercial shortcomings, Great Divide is a fantastic record, from the endlessly catchy opener “F.N.T.” to the darkly tinged “Down in Flames” and the Minnesota State Fair ode “Falling.” The wistful breeziness of Wilson’s songwriting seems custom-built for autumn in Minnesota, while Munson and Slichter’s warm tones should keep everyone from freezing to death while waiting in line on the first Saturday in January.
“The record reflects a lot of who we wanted to be as a band -- dreamy, groovy, and skronky,” Slichter tells City Pages from his home in New York. “More than that, it was in the context of performing the songs off of this record that we became known to our first listeners, so when Dan, John, or I listen to those songs, we remember the special feeling of becoming a band on stage.”
Semisonic last played together in 2012, headlining the Current’s Minnesota Music-on-a-Stick concert at the state fair and rocking Our Lady of the Lake’s Blast Block Party in Mound, Minnesota.
Wilson has kept pretty busy in the interim, writing and producing songs for everyone from Taylor Swift to Weezer and touring his latest solo record, 2014’s Love Without Fear. Meanwhile, Munson has been no stranger to the local music scene, playing with his bands the Twilight Hours and the New Standards and serving as the musical director on Minnesota Public Radio’s dearly departed variety program, Wits.
$30 tickets to Semisonic's reunion gig at First Ave will be available for pre-sale 10 a.m. Wednesday and Thursday (details here). The general public gets a crack at 'em noon Friday via the venue's box office and Etix.