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Year In Music 2015: A rock 'n' roll timeline of Minnesota music

Hippo Campus: Jake Luppen, Nathan Stocker, Zach Sutton and Whistler Allen

Hippo Campus: Jake Luppen, Nathan Stocker, Zach Sutton and Whistler Allen

Between the mega-concerts (Rolling Stones, Janet Jackson), the legacy wins (Dylan mural, Rhymesayers turns 20), the random happenings (Sisqó lives in Maple Grove? Buy a Craig Finn PS4 controller?), and countless killer local shows, it was impossible for Twin Cities music fans to become bored in 2015.

Local acts like Lizzo and Allan Kingdom continued their quests for global domination, sure. But Hippo Campus, the young indie-rock risers from Woodbury, loudly made their name known this year. Among the Hippos' victories: performing on Conan, playing Lollapalooza, touring the U.K., and even scoring favor with the hard-to-impress A.V. Club comment section with their cover of Electric Light Orchestra's '70s rock classic "Don't Bring Me Down."

Having scientifically determined that Hippo Campus "won" the year in local music, we asked the Hippo players to share their year-end favorites. And, of course, read on and let our timeline recapture the excitement, sorrows, and crowdfunded Sleep Number beds that made the year great.

Jake Luppen

Favorite album (national): Currents by Tame Impala.

Favorite album (local): Ones and Sixes by Low.

Atmosphere at Rhymesayers 20

Atmosphere at Rhymesayers 20

Favorite meal or drink on tour: Satdha in Santa Monica, California — gorgeous weather, perfect Thai food.

Favorite 2015 Hippo Campus memory: I would be lying if I said anything but headlining First Avenue. Lollapalooza, Red Rocks, and London were all right up there, too.

Whistler Allen

Favorite album (national): Ones and Sixes by Low.

Favorite album (local): Ones and Sixes by Low.

Favorite meal or drink on tour: Meal = beef pho and salt and pepper squid at Huong Restaurant in London. Drink = coconut water.

Favorite 2015 Hippo Campus memory: Every single day since June 2, 2013.

Nathan Stocker

Favorite album (national): South EP by Hippo Campus.

Favorite album (local): South EP by Hippo Campus.

Favorite meal or drink on tour: Water.

Favorite 2015 Hippo Campus memory: Playing shows.

Zach Sutton

Favorite album (national): The Dongo Durango by Sun Club.

Favorite album (local): Psychic Reader by Bad Bad Hats.

The Dylan mural in downtown Minneapolis

The Dylan mural in downtown Minneapolis

Favorite meal or drink on tour: Vegan Thai food at Satdha in Santa Monica, California.

Favorite 2015 Hippo Campus memory: LOL'in with my boys, and quitting school and work to make music.

Below, find our month-by-month recap of all the music news you needed this year, and still need now, in case you forgot.

January

Happy 2015, jazz fans! New St. Paul club Vieux Carré (pronounced "view-ka-ray") becomes the spiritual successor to shuttered venue Artists' Quarter when it opens its doors on New Year's Eve.

First Avenue's Best New Bands of 2014 — Hippo Campus, PaviElle, Sam Cassidy, Suzie, Warey, Tiny Deaths, and ZuluZuluu — storm the Mainroom. "If their BNB performance was any indication, Hippo Campus could easily keep their local momentum going on a national level," write the oracles at City Pages in their review of the concert showcase.

The Mac proves sufficiently back in St. Paul. Our reviewer Tatiana Craine and her pops join forces to cover Fleetwood Mac at Xcel Energy Center, where Boomer fans lap up the freshly reformed Christine McVie-era lineup. Their once-divided band seems friendly, and they even play "Silver Springs" for an encore. Nice.

As part of its 10th anniversary celebrations, 89.3 the Current takes to Reddit for an "Ask Me Anything" session (AMA, if you're down). "It seems like about half the songs played on the Current are some variation of Beards with Banjos," states one user, to which the Current responds, "Someday people will shave and pick up a guitar." So look forward to that!

PaviElle at First Ave's Best New Bands showcase

PaviElle at First Ave's Best New Bands showcase

Speaking of the Current, the station cans beloved DJ Barb Abney, a move that shocks the local music community. "There's nothing to say," Abney tells City Pages. "They want to go in a different direction and no longer have room for me." Newish radio station and Current competitor Go 96.3 eagerly scoops up Abney the following month.

February

Shit-starting City Pages writer (and musician!) Drew Ailes writes a post titled "Six reasons musicians don't deserve to get paid,"  and the scene reacts accordingly. "Dear asshole: Fuck you," writes one commenter who isn't tickled by Ailes' list, which culminates with reason No. 1: You care too much.

John Kuker, owner of Cannon Falls' famed Pachyderm recording studio, dies of a suspected heart attack at age 40. Nirvana recorded its final album, 1993's In Utero, at Pachyderm, which had fallen into disrepair before the Anoka-reared Kuker purchased and began rehabbing it in 2011. "John was a visionary," local musician Darren "Kid Dakota" Jackson tells City Pages of Kuker, who also owned Minneapolis' Seedy Underbelly studio. "He loved Minnesota music and that's why he bought Pachyderm and brought it back to life."

City Pages critic Keith Harris remains convinced Sleater-Kinney is the greatest rock band of the past 20 years. At First Avenue, the recently reunited trio harnesses the chaotic intensity of youth without letting it consume them, Harris writes, on a tour that has local rap star Lizzo as the high-profile opening act.

Minnesota's own pint-sized music deity "wins" the Grammys! That's according to former CP music editor Reed Fischer, who like many Grammy watchers is smitten with Prince's exasperated smirk while presenting the award for Album of the Year. "Albums still matter," the Purple One states. "Like books and black lives, albums still matter."

Hippo Campus

Hippo Campus


March

Hippo Campus score a huge career win when they perform on Conan. Woodbury's fresh-faced, pop-rocking exports own their cable TV debut with a killer performance of "Suicide Saturday," prompting Conan O'Brien to exclaim, "I like these guys!" Months later, you pick up a City Pages with the Hippos on the cover.

Thomas "Tommy Gunn" Alsides — best known to Twin Citians as the drummer for Paradox, John Eller & the DTs, and the Bowie-themed Rock For Pussy benefits — dies at 52.

Citing "lack of available time and resources," organizers shut down the Lyn-Lake Street Festival for 2015.

For his first Twin Cities gig in 27 years, pop music icon Stevie Wonder treats Target Center to his 1976 double-album, Songs in the Key of Life, in its entirety. "Like that best-selling classic recording itself," writes City Pages reviewer Keith Harris, "the live performance didn't simply justify its excesses but rendered them essential, expressing the star's boundless creativity and insisting that an inexhaustible abundance of joy exists in the world for anyone willing to seek it."

Dessa at Doomtree Zoo

Dessa at Doomtree Zoo


April

First Avenue celebrates its 45-year anniversary with Sonny Knight and the Lakers, Sims, the Cactus Blossoms, and Har Mar Superstar, who rocks red Zubaz with a gold shawl. The ceiling appears intact.

89.3 the Current host Mary Lucia, a longtime Twin Cities radio favorite, begins a leave of absence to deal with the legal and emotional fallout of being stalked. She writes the following in an open letter announcing the move: "Do you know what it's like to feel unsafe watching a band at First Avenue? To worry any time a stranger approaches you? To not be able to sleep or eat properly? That's what my past year has been like."

Neil Diamond, Sufjan Stevens, and Neko Case dominate the spring concert calendar.

Your favorite alt-weekly unveils its Best of the Twin Cities picks for music, including Best Album of the Past 12 Months (The Stand4rd's The Stand4rd), Best New Band (Hippo Campus), Best Rock Club (Turf Club), and much, much more. You're sexier and smarter for having read it.


May

Beasthead get their shit stolen! Thieves snatch "several thousand dollars" worth of gear from the local band, spurring an outpouring of support from the music scene. Bright-side bonus: The group works with the Minneapolis PD on sting operations to retrieve the stolen gear from Craigslist crooks.

Lifter Puller

Lifter Puller

The hyped reveal of Target Center's latest mega-concert — Times Square billboard! Gabbo-like teasers! — ends up just being Billy Joel. But, ultimately, the 66-year-old piano man doesn't disappoint, as he spoon-feeds nostalgic fans all the BJ jams, capped with dad-like dance moves during an encore presentation of "Uptown Girl."

Your 2014 Picked to Click winner, rapper Allan Kingdom, clicks in a serious way when he collabs onstage with Kanye West at the Billboard Music Awards. Kim's little sisters — Kylie and Kendall Jenner, familial heirs to the tabloid throne — are subjected to a volley of boos as they introduce their brother-in-law's jam, "All Day," but young Kingdom appears unfazed. Van Halen's performance of 1984 hit "Panama," an ode to David Lee Roth's car, proves less controversial.

Baby move your butt, butt, butt ... to Maple Grove, Minnesota? Turns out motherfuckin' Sisqó lives a sleepy suburban existence in the Twin Cities suburb. "There's not a lot of distractions," the "Thong Song" hitmaker tells Northwest Community Television, "just basically like a real calm, quiet neighborhood where families are just living and exercising and riding bikes — no thongs out here!" Amazing.

June

"Their forms are inconsequential — the almost deathless allure of their music reigned uninterrupted." That's City Pages writer Jerard Fagerberg summing up the Rolling Stones at TCF Bank Stadium, the first Twin Cities gig from the U.K. rock 'n' roll titans since 2005. Fagerberg, a non-Boomer, has issues with the show, but concludes, "What was at hand was an intensely important concert — quite possibly the Stones' last show ever in the Twin Cities. Viewed with that fatalism, it was intoxicating."

Cryptic/spray-painted lettering seen on frontman Paul Westerberg's T-shirts during the Replacements' Back by Unpopular Demand tour reveal (yet another) breakup notice: "I have always loved you. Now I must whore my past." The Minneapolis rock legends' three-year reunion period officially ends June 5. Elsewhere, another back-from-the-dead Twin Cities rock legend, Babes in Toyland, perform a thunderous Rock the Garden set.

Two high-profile Minneapolis gigs get squashed, as Lil' Wayne bails on his scheduled performance at the Venue an hour ahead of the show, and a throat cyst robs us of Nickelback's July 25 stop at Target Center.

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President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, along with 500 of their closest celebrity and political friends, enjoy a private Prince concert at the White House, the Washington Post reports. We've heard of meeting with Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, but this is ridiculous! White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest — possibly the most conveniently surnamed man alive, career-wise — downplays any charges of ridiculousness, telling reporters the event was "an opportunity for the President and First Lady to host some of their friends at the White House at a party that they paid for themselves."

July

Twin Cities post-punk heroes Lifter Puller (aka Craig Finn's band before the Hold Steady) reunite for a short-but-sweet set outside Triple Rock for D-4th of July.

Fresh off a (reportedly lip-synched) set at the Halfway Jam music fest in Royalton, Minnesota, deeply troubled Puddle of Mudd frontman Wes Scantlin flees Renville County police at speeds around 100 miles per hour. Police manage to stop the former rock star around 4 a.m., and arrest him after his blood alcohol content measures 0.31 percent — almost four times the legal limit. Scantlin, 43, was tossed off an outbound flight from the Twin Cities hours earlier. "All I can tell you is Wes is out of jail, he's on his way home, and he's playing all of the remaining scheduled shows," Puddle of Mudd manager Chris Majors informs City Pages.

The recording studio, rehearsal space, video set, quasi-legal show venue, art gallery, and creative hangout known as Sound Gallery closes after more than a decade in Minneapolis' North Loop. The space that once housed Sound Gallery will soon become a mixed-use building combining residential, commercial, and artist studios, because gentrification.

Justin Lowe — guitarist and co-founder of Twin Cities metalcore band After the Burialis found dead near the St. Croix River, discovered by a hiker beneath the Arcola High Bridge connecting Arcola, Minnesota, and Somerset, Wisconsin. The 32-year-old native of Vadnais Heights, Minnesota, had recently quit After the Burial in a long, paranoid-sounding Facebook post. He had been reported missing and suffered from mental health issues. "Our dear friend, our brother onstage and off, has fallen into a very broken state of mind," a statement from his bandmates reads. "A state that, despite our continued efforts, we have been powerless to get him out of."

August

#BedForBob! The jolly internet pranksters at Click Hole, the Onion's BuzzFeed parody website, successfully crowdfund a brand-new Sleep Number bed for Bob Dylan, which he never asked for.

Bad Bad Hats, Picked to Click 2015

Bad Bad Hats, Picked to Click 2015

Iconic Minneapolis nightclub First Avenue evacuates after portions of the ceiling collapse on audience members. The debris from a 30-foot-by-30-foot portion of ceiling injures three or four concertgoers during a show by Canadian rock band Theory of a Deadman, a "shocked" First Ave General Manager Nate Kranz tells City Pages the night of the incident. None of the injuries are serious, and the club reopens later that month with a new ceiling.

Minnesota native Alicia Bognanno, the force behind Nashville band Bully, continues her quest for indie-rock domination unabated, as she shreds and wails majestic on TBS' Conan. "I like them a lot," raves Conan O'Brien after Bully tears through "Trying."

With an injured Dave Grohl sitting atop his elaborate Game of Thrones-inspired throne, Foo Fighters "couldn't wait to move on to the next chart-topper" during a guitar marathon at Xcel Energy Center, writes City Pages reviewer Alex Rice. The show underwhelms Rice, a FF superfan, but fellow fans gobbled up the arena-rock script.

September

Patrick Kelly pleads guilty to felony stalking and terroristic threats against 89.3 the Current DJ Mary Lucia. The 56-year-old Eden Prairie resident told the court, "I want to take full responsibility." Lucia returns to the Current in November, announcing the move with a note that reads, "As Bob Plant said, 'Been a long time since I rock and rolled.' Thanks as always for your kindness and thoughtfulness. Your friend and mine, Looch."

Ever use Tidal, the music-streaming service launched in March by Jay Z? If you're like most people, of course not. But the fledgling, megastar-owned subscription music player scores exclusive rights to Prince's 38th album, HitnRun, released September 15. "Jay Z and I did a deal in 90 days. He gets it. And there's no matrix," Prince tells writer Smokey D. Fontaine of his decision to cozy up with Tidal in an article posted to Medium.

Financed by the capitalist dark lords at Goldman Sachs and managed by Hennepin Theatre Trust, the towering, $50,000 Bob Dylan mural painted by Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra emerges complete at the corner of Fifth Street and Hennepin Avenue in downtown Minneapolis.

Taylor Swift's three-night extravaganza comes to Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. "The 25-year-old pop megastar's good-vibing pandering made her feel less like a genuinely talented songwriter/entertainer, and more like an expertly curated brand experience," writes yours truly in a review that attempts to balance props for Swift, a truly gifted pop-culture force, with cynicism toward a show, admittedly, intended for tweens.

The Rolling Stones at TCF

The Rolling Stones at TCF

Gifted Twin Cities filmmaker Andre Durand, known for his work on music videos with Bon Iver, dies unexpectedly in a rooftop accident in Brooklyn, New York.

October

Twin Cities rap crew Doomtree throws their first-ever Doomtree Zoo festival at CHS Field in St. Paul. Our discerning critic, Ryan Warner, explores the all-day Zoo's pros ("This was a fantastic, one-of-a-kind event and one that could only have been hosted by Doomtree. As a Cool Guy, I'm driven by some honor code not to like the mega-popular local group, but their charisma was undeniable") and cons ("One place the strangely pervasive Law of Rock Shirt does not exist is at a Doomtree concert, where the group's fans are eager to show off their gear").

An entire stadium's worth of music fans see Madonna perform at Xcel Energy Center. A much, much smaller number of lucky bastards see Madonna in the wee hours afterward, when the Queen of Pop pops into Prince's Paisley Park studio/venue to see the Purple One play for "roughly 60" people," reports Andrea Swensson of 89.3 the Current. Later in the month, Prince invites your WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx to Paisley for a private victory concert that all-star forward Maya Moore calls "unbelievable."

Craig Finn struggles to understand a Craigslist ad for a Playstation 4 controller that his hands allegedly graced (selling for $400!). That is until City Pages blows the story wide open, revealing it to be a prank by local comic Justin Colucci. The good-humored rock 'n' roller is down to clown, though, even later naming his touring band the Uptown Controllers.

Sleater-Kinney at First Avenue

Sleater-Kinney at First Avenue


November

November 1, 2015, is forever Janet Jackson Day in Minneapolis, decrees Mayor Betsy Hodges at the pop megastar's breathless Target Center concert. "There's the unspoken sense that the Janet we're seeing on stage has gained some form of relaxed, older-sister wisdom and clarity in her seven-year absence," writes critic Marcus Michalik, citing Jackson's weaponized musical efficiency and a return to her '80s sensibilities honed in Minnesota with producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. "It's great to have her back in Minneapolis."

Recently former Replacements frontman Paul Westerberg offers up surprise news: He's formed a new band, the I Don't Cares, with fellow indie-rock lifer Juliana Hatfield. The smirky duo even drops a debut single titled, "1 / 2 2 P." The I Don't Cares will release a proper album, Wild Stab, "soon."

With popular 89.3 the Current DJ David Campbell gone from the station and his role as the host of The Local Show ("It's frustrating for them; it's frustrating for me," Campbell told City Pages, referencing a brain condition that made his job unmanageable), the Current names in-house blogger and former City Pages Music Editor Andrea Swensson as host/producer of The Local Show.

Plucky indie-pop trio Bad Bad Hats win over our cast of more than 100 music critics, photographers, promoters, and scenesters participating in the 25th edition of Picked to Click, a year refreshingly dominated by women.


December

Pioneering Twin Cities indie-rap record label Rhymesayers Entertainment throws its 20th anniversary concert at Target Center. Ahead of the stellar show, former RSE artist Cristalle "Psalm One" Bowen — the only female solo artist in RSE history — slams the label, telling City Pages, "It'd be nice to have a few vaginas onstage [at RSE's anniversary show]." RSE CEO Brent "Siddiq" Sayers dismisses many of Psalm's charges in an open letter, including claims she was called a "dyke" in the RSE offices, but pledges "my people and I can do better" with regard to representing women.

Scott Weiland — the former lead singer of rock bands Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver — is found dead of apparent cardiac arrest in his tour bus in Bloomington, Minnesota. He was 48. His bandmate, Tommy Black, is arrested and charged with felony drug possession for cocaine discovered on the bus.

Kanye West single "All Day," featuring 21-year-old St. Paul rapper Allan Kingdom and some guy named Paul McCartney, is nominated for two 2016 Grammy Awards — Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song.