Armed with nothing but phones and instincts honed from years in the trenches of the local punk and DIY community, the folks at UnderCurrentMPLS have amassed nearly 2000 videos in the past three years. They've documented everything from 12 Rods' triumphant return to First Avenue to unsanctioned warehouse shows featuring bands you've never heard of. Strictly non-profit, despite their jokes about being Pepsi-sponsored carpetbaggers from L.A., the folks at UnderCurrent do it all for the love of the music, and you can see that love shine through in these clips.
In honor of UnderCurrentMPLS's ongoing residency at the Triple Rock, we compiled a list of our 10 favorite gems from their massive YouTube archive for your viewing pleasure.
Kitten Forever - "Diamond Ring/Blood Song" at Perplexed Fest (May 17, 2014)
The riot-queen three-piece is one of UnderCurrent's favorite groups to film, and this two-song video from the annual Art-A-Whirl backyard Perplexed festival shows exactly why. Kitten Forever's kinetic live shows rely on a spartan equipment setup no larger than a basic drum kit, a bass guitar and a mic made from a telephone receiver, matching the stripped-down intensity of groups like Japanther while sounding wholly unique. While the UnderCurrent folks love Kitten Forever enough to have a whole YouTube playlist devoted to their videos, this one is a special treat. Not only do we get a mic drop and mid-song instrument switch, but the summer sun and day-drunk crowd make for a killer backdrop.
Brain Tumors - Hexagon Bar (June 9, 2014)
Brain Tumors don't so much play shows as stage royal rumble melees with their audiences, soundtracked by their blistering hardcore attack. Watch frontman Drew Ailes get tackled, picked back up, slapped, spanked, and force-fed PBR. His bandmates assume the classic defensive position with their backs to the crowd and pound away at sub-two-minute blasts of filth and fury, while the Hexagon's music area seems to transform into one giant mosh. There's also a great moment around 3:30 where Ailes takes a long, baleful look directly into the lens and almost smashes one of UnderCurrent's phones in a feat of drunken rage.
The Blind Shake - Hexagon Bar (May 2, 2014)
The methamphetamine surf-punk of the Blind Shake takes on an almost cartoonish quality in this video, thanks to the synergy of trio's matching shaved heads and black outfits, and the snappy, bouncy editing from Gravey. The trio just wrapped up a high-profile tour with San Diego rock god Swami John Reis, but this video captures the band on the home turf at the Hexagon. Known for their ludicrous, amp-climbing, guitar-chucking stage presence, the 'Shake keep things relatively well-tied up in this performance, blazing out complex surf licks with a maniacal determination.
Waveless - "Broken Arrow/Lucid Nightmare" at White Page (January 17, 2015)
Waveless's songs are already haunting, but this blown-out, grainy and colorless video has all of the creeping dread of a snuff film. Shot during a DIY show at the the White Page gallery in Powderhorn, this is one of UnderCurrent's more stylized videos, but the artsy embellishment matches the setting and sounds perfectly. The drums echo like the band is playing from the bottom of a well, and the creepy harmonies between guitarist Dustin McChesney and bassist Hannah Kathleen add to the chilling atmosphere. Thankfully, everyone appears to be alive at the end.
Disasteratti - "White Trash" at Fuck Mountain (July 22, 2014)
Contrary to popular belief, plenty of basement shows don't devolve into a crusty version of Wrestlemania. This is just a killer performance by Disasteratti doing their thing about three feet from somebody's laundry machine. Marvel along with us at how tight the band's desert-punk sound is, despite having absolutely nothing going for them in the way of monitors or even lights to see their instruments by. Guitarist Dari Kaveh tears off an absolutely monstrous slide-guitar solo in here too, and the basement looks to be at least 125 degrees, judging by the condensation on the walls.
The Drug Budget - "Default Mental Tempo" at 7th Street Entry (September 2, 2014)
The Drug Budget are one of Minneapolis' most bizarrely beautiful creations, half cult and half performance art freakout masquerading as a 12-piece band. Their sound is almost impossible to pigeonhole, falling somewhere in between the cracks of psychedelic, prog and funk, with a horn section, shredding guitars, and an army of intimidating back-up songstresses, led by the rabid street-preacher intensity of frontman Cedric Kangas. From UnderCurrent's up-close-and-personal vantage-point, the stage looks like a constantly revolving circus, with costumed members dipping in and out of the shot, struggling to fit their massive personnel list onto the Entry's minute stage. Oh, and just before this video was shot, Kangas dropped trou and attempted to scale the venue's rafters before falling directly onto his face, breaking his cheekbone bad enough to end up into the hospital later that night. The madman seems completely unfazed however, commanding the stage and leaning into the camera to show off his massive, swollen bruise.
France Camp - "My Warpaint" at FMLY Fest [In the Heart of the Beast Theater] (August 8, 2014)
The acid-damaged projections and weird glowing crystals set up by the FMLY Fest crew as show decor suit the bad-trip vibes of this France Camp tune perfectly. Joined by special guest guitarist Rupert Angeleyes for this set, the bratty garage punks in France Camp plow through one of their heaviest songs menacing intent, while their titular frontman paces the stage and eventually walks head-on into the audience. For a special treat, pair this video with the other one shot at the same event to watch France Camp (the man) climb a dangerously tall stack of monitors with the fearlessness of a man possessed.
Animal Lover - "Now is the Time" at 7th Street Entry (December 23, 2011)
This one is a blast from the past, back when UnderCurrent was a single-camera affair helmed solely by founder Gravey and Animal Lover was fresh out of the van from their original home of Fargo, North Dakota. Some bug in the lighting or the editing gives this video an eerie, warped-VHS quality -- like it was filmed for a '90s public-access documentary. Animal Lover would go on to become one of UnderCurrent's favorite bands to film, netting their own playlist and a slew of videos to boot, but this blistering cover of the Wipers' classic "Now Is the Time" was a great introduction to these noisy savants.
STNNNG - "What's the Secret?" at Turf Club (May 4, 2014)
Filmed at one of the Turf Club's final shows before the legendary St. Paul rock 'n' roll bar was rehabilitated by the good folks from First Ave, this set from St. Paul's reining noise-rock kings STNNNG helped close one era of the bar with panache. Always magnetic and dangerous, singer Chris Besinger opens his shirt Fabio-style before tearing it to pieces over the course of the song with his microphone. The band's twin-guitar attack toys with a bit of classic rock bombastics throughout the still-unreleased tune's tenure, and the sound is captured perfectly with the help of local tape-archivist John Empty.
Uranium Club - Hexagon Bar (October 7, 2014)
The enigmatic Uranium Club is the exact kind of band that UnderCurrent was made to promote. The four-piece band is so averse to publicity that they refused to field so much as a Bandcamp page for their music, forcing fans like the UnderCurrent crew to take matters into their own hands. After playing a series of shows that set whole scene on its ear during the summer and fall of 2014, Uranium Club has faded back into the shadows, leaving nothing more than a limited-run, hand-distributed as a record of their presence. Videos like this one reflect the UnderCurrent founder's original mission for his website: to act as an archive of live footage of awesome musicians who don't really give much a of a shit about how good they really are.
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