The Current Effect, in progress

Photo by Dan Corrigan
Mayors RT Rybak and Chris Coleman at the Current's 5th birthday party

Last May, when Mumford & Sons blasted through town with a very sold-out show at the Varsity Theater, the impact that Minneapolis Public Radio's contemporary music station has on our concert ticket market became so overwhelmingly clear that I

coined it "the Current Effect."

It's a theory I've been mulling over ever since, and a force that feels more palpable some weeks that others, but it was especially clear today during a totally run-of-the-mill, ordinary trip downtown for lunch, which just so happened to coincide with the exact moment that Atmosphere sold out its two-night stand at First Avenue.

Here's a play-by-play:

12:38 p.m. Get in the car, turn the key, flip to the Current. Barb Abney casually mentions that she read on "either Facebook or Twitter" that the Atmosphere show might be about to sell out. Already happen to be heading to the Depot (First Avenue's restaurant) for lunch, but don't think anything of it.

12:45 p.m. Pull up to the Depot, park car, go inside, cozy up to the bar.

12:47 p.m. A woman walks up to the bar. "Do you have Atmosphere tickets?" Bartender Natalie Coates says they have 13 tickets left for the 18+ show; all ages show is sold out.

12:50 p.m. Two more people form a line at the bar for Atmosphere tickets, followed by two more. The phone is ringing off the hook.

12:53 p.m. A man sits down at the bar. "You need Atmosphere tickets?" "How'd you know?" "I can tell by the desperation in your eyes," Natalie cracks, laughing between phone calls.

12:55 p.m. Natalie asks if I need tickets, says she only has three left. I tell her I'm set. Meanwhile, at least five people have called the bar and are en route to try to nab the remaining tickets.

"This was nothing," Coates says, shaking her head. "You should have seen it for Mumford and Sons. It was our craziest ticket sales ever, the line was out the door."

Sure, today's example was a small one -- radio DJs likely make comments that boost ticket sales all the time -- but it was a fascinating display, nonetheless. Sometimes, you just happen to be at the right place at the right time, and on a day like today it gave me an insider's glimpse at the power that is wielded by a station that still, against all odds, considers itself an underdog on the radio dial.

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