It was a birthday party fit for a king, as a sold-out First Avenue was jam packed with a lively crowd gathered to celebrate the 5th Anniversary of local radio station the Current. But with an all Minnesota line-up, the night was just as much an appreciation of burgeoning local talent as it was a recognition of the importance and impact of the Twin Cities best radio station. While a few of the performances didn't quite live up to the occasion, having Prince, R.T. Rybak, Chris Coleman, and Chris Osgood all present (as well as taped testimonials from Dan Wilson and Bob Mould), it's hard to issue too many complaints about what ended up being a truly memorable evening.
Local two-piece Lookbook played a lovely, atmospheric set that was heavy on synthetic beats and the angelic vocals of Maggie Morrison. Their simmering set started out slowly, but eventually managed to catch fire, with a great version of "Wild At Heart" really standing out. The swelling crowd was still in the process of settling in, however, and the band's moody music was often lost amidst the growing din.
Just when it seemed the crowd was finally comfortable and ready to let loose and have a good time, Mason Jennings came out to play a solo acoustic set, which, while pleasant enough, didn't really do much to elevate the energy level of the proceedings. His covers of Bruce Springsteen's "Atlantic City" and the Louis Armstrong classic "A Kiss To Build A Dream On," were definite highlights of his somber, austere set. But the crowd clearly wanted a release that Jennings' performance unfortunately didn't fully deliver, even with rumors of Prince's recent arrival spreading like wildfire throughout the crowd. (Prince hung out in the owner's box in the balcony of the club for most of Jennings' set, and then left before P.O.S. took the stage.)
So, it was up to P.O.S. to thoroughly ignite the festivities. His set started a bit unevenly, though, with Stefon perhaps trying too hard to impress the Purple One. His early songs were cut short in order to try and get the crowd involved, instead of letting them try and match the energy of his often furious lyrical pace. But he eventually steadied himself, and set the place off with fiery versions of "Drumroll (We're All Thirsty)" and "Purexed," which never fails to slay live. Thankfully, P.O.S. gave the night its much needed spark.
Sadly, Solid Gold made the crowd wait an interminably long time before finally taking the stage at well past midnight. The band more than made up for the delay by starting their set with a phenomenal cover of the Stone Roses "I Wanna Be Adored." They mixed in plenty of hits from their stellar debut Bodies Of Water (including "Get Over It' and "Armoured Cars") as well as new tracks from their just released Synchronize EP. But the brilliant covers were what everyone was talking about after the show, with the band delivering an impassioned version of Kenny Loggins "Danger Zone," as well as a raucous, appropriate take on the Dandy Warhols' "Minnesoter" (with Maggie Morrison on backing vocals and tambourine) that closed out the night strongly.
All in all, the evening was a celebration of the great radio station we are fortunate to have here in The Current, as well as the fantastic array of musical talent continually on display in the Twin Cities. We are lucky to live in an area where music not only matters, it is revered. And, on a cold January night in Minneapolis, an appreciative crowd was able to give thanks.