“For any newcomers, I’m Hannah von der Hoff and this is what I do.” The woman who has made a local name for herself as a model and part of the frontwoman team for the now-defunct SEXCAT took the stage at the Dakota Jazz Club to do what she is doing now – turning her preternaturally talented singing into her own voice.
For the second of her Late Night Dakota shows, von der Hoff was outfitted in an aquamarine Kjurek dress (available to purchase, she noted, at the new Showroom boutique in Uptown) and accompanied in an unfussy manner by a hollow-bodied white Gretsch. The Gretsch was new, purchased after her old Fender suffered an accident that saw it lose its headstock. That led to tuning and chatter about the 24-hour trial period, but the hollow body had the same quality as von der Hoff’s own voice – full, with a deep richness and the ability to hit just the right piercing note at the height of a run and cut deep to the soul.
Von der Hoff ran through two sets of her own material, peppered with some choice covers that highlighted how her voice can transform songs that already have indelible renditions. She took on the vulnerability of Elliott Smith’s “Between the Bars” and gave it a confident defiance at the end, imbued Feist’s quavering but poppy “The Limit To Your Love” with a more earthy directness than James Blake’s stripped down version, and ended her night with “Came A Long Way” from Heartless Bastards, her favorite band. You can hear the Heartless Bastards influence in von der Hoff’s own songs; as if Erika Wennerstrom’s vocals had a smoother, jazzier bent to them, held up by the simple guitar lines. With Garrett Neal from USONIA guesting on keyboards on the second set, the atmosphere of encompassing, nostalgic intimacy of the late night jazz club was perfectly captured in the candlelight flicker of the Dakota.
Von der Hoff has said that she “doesn’t have a Plan B,” and songs like “Sunday Afternoon” and “Marcela” (performed with the namesake seated in the front row) carry an exciting promise of the seductive honesty that’s to come. In that spirit, Von der Hoff announced that she will be releasing a live EP next week and is working on a full record, as well as future show dates. She also ended the night with a plea to tip the servers well, because she herself was working a double tomorrow. It’s the work that artists do to get by as they work to get their voices and talents to lift themselves up as much as they do us in the audience.
CakeIn15.com is happy to announce our next house show at our brand new Cake Shop, and it’s with a regular Cake Shop attendee with a new musical project. Singer-songwriter Cobey Rouse has teamed up with Shannon Frid, violinist from Cloud Cult, and Eric Carranza (keys, guitar and ukelele) of Better Bones to form batteryboy, playing what they call “an acoustic outpouring of hope, energy and emotion.” batteryboy’s record Up For Air will drop later this summer, so now is the chance to see the duo in the intimate house show setting.
This concert will be limited in capacity, so reserve your space today! Space reservations are $10, and please log into PayPal and send your payment to CakeIn15@gmail.com. Please mark your payment as a “GIFT” in order to avoid PayPal fees. This is money goes directly to Cobey & Shannon, so please don’t short-change the band!
Your reservation to this special show is confirmed ONLY when you receive an email both confirming your payment and giving you the house address. This email must come from CakeIn15@gmail.com and NOT Paypal (so make sure to check your spam filter). Guests are invited to bring a beverage of their choice to enjoy.
When: Saturday, June 1, 2013 Time: 7:30 pm Where: The Cake Shop, location upon RSVP (NEW HOUSE) How much: $10 reservations
The Cake Shop is dedicated to providing artists and audiences with a unique and intimate experience that allows artists to freely experiment with new material. Shows at The Cake Shop directly financially support the musicians playing. Previous performances include Caroline Smith & Jesse Schuster, Communist Daughter, Spirits of the Red City, Zoo Animal, Dark Dark Dark and Elephant Micah, Pezzettino, Roma Di Luna, Jeremy Messersmith, The Pines, Ben Kyle & Carrie Rodriguez, We Are The Willows (Peter Miller), and Chastity Brown.
“Math Rock” is a hard genre to define, particularly these days. For a long while, merely displaying any technical capabilities in a “punk” format (see: NoMeansNo, RKL, etc) was enough to get a foot in the door, but the game seems to have changed. I was first introduced to the genre by Temporary Residence’s “By The End Of Tonight” at age 13 and progressed from there. They ended up being something of an outlier in the genre, but introduced me to a good number of other bands, the best of the bunch being Tera Melos, easily. With a unique sense of humor and the ability to not only maintain fantastic energy with their technicality (never flaunting it), the group easily differentiated themselves from the pack.
These days Math Rock seems to simply mean “using that crazy tapping technique” and changing time signatures now and then. Hell, there are even tutorials online on “how to play math rock” as if it has become that formulaic. Well, perhaps it has. My greatest worry with Tera Melos is that they would fall into the same pitfalls of their contemporaries, something that seemed very easy to do. Last week’s show at the 7th Street showed, with incredible clarity, that such was not to be the case.
Opening was Self-Evident, a group that could count themselves as a peer to some of the early bands of this current wave of Math Rock. It’s fortunate that they formed so early in the scene, because if this band had been playing new material I would have been horrified. Their material was all incredibly dated, not intricate enough to keep up with current trends by any means, but not unique enough to differentiate themselves in any other way. Their music went from interesting instrumental passage straight into melancholic and “emotive” (read: emo (read: tired and old)) post-punk clean channel nonsense, borrowing from the most boring bands of the 90s.
If it were not for the stage presence of Tom Berg (Bass) and some highlights of “rhythmic interplay” (their words, not mine) their set would have been for naught. Berg held the band together while Conrad Mach (Guitar) sang what could have been some of the most amelodic passages since atonality was discovered. This band quite aptly showcased what I worried could become of Tera Melos, occasionally interesting ideas slaughtered by completely uninteresting vocals and post-rock derivative sections that only serve to slow things down further.
The turnout for the night was as eclectic as ever, but as This Town Needs Guns prepared to take the stage, things got a bit odd. I had been confused as to what TTNG sounded like before they began playing. I remember listening to them before, but couldn’t remember if they were “that one sort of mathy band with the scene band vocals” or “that one nutball instrumental band that had nine minute long songs.” Much to my chagrin, it was the former. I was wondering why the one guy that only liked Avenged Sevenfold in high school showed up, the guy that liked American Football, and a good dozen girls still trying to keep the “neon scene” years alive with ridiculous blonde hair.
The group took the stage, and the first thing I noticed (other than their British accents) was the vocalists’ six string bass guitar. Not a good sign. Yeah, they were the band with the scene vocals. Clean guitar over clean vocals. Obviously there is nothing inherently wrong with that, but I can’t stand it personally. Sure, you can mix up the time signatures a bunch, sure you can add some wacky tapping over the top, but at its core you’re still playing music that was tired in 1999. People try to tell me “emo” in the 90s stood for just being emotional, not all of the baggage tied to the word now, but the connection between the two is quite clear. While the band was playing there was much more talk about how “cool” the guitar player was and how he was going to blow everyone away, while the substance and core of the music didn’t get much attention. Besides, how much “emotion” can you express without even raising your voice? To this day, whining is a very apt description of this style. Why this genre didn’t die completely in the 90s is completely beyond my comprehension. Obviously, the songs are competently written and they are incredible musicians, technically, all around, but there’s no emotion (ironically). Suffice to say, they’re not my bag.
Anyway, a double whammy of suck was served at the end of TTNG’s set as it was announced that Tera Melos had been robbed at gunpoint. Luckily, only a phone was stolen, but it did mean we had to suffer through one more TTNG song so I count it as an overall loss. With that over and with the caked up scene kids out of the venue for the most part, the remaining crowd witnessed Tera Melos’ set up, which most notably included a massive “hot dog man” being set in the middle of the stage and a Freddy Kruger scarecrow-type thing hanging stage left.
After a brief description of the thief as told by Nick Reinhart (“some worthless piece of gristled shit…”) the show began. The set consisted almost entirely of material from their new record. I have to admit that I confused some of the performances of the ambient songs on “X’ed Out” as just pauses for Reinhart to get in tune or something, but when they launched into their more “proper” songs, it was a sight and sound to behold. “Sunburn” played as a blazing fast surf rock song with some math that was so catchy I wasn’t sure if it was a cover or not. The only songs from their back catalog they played were “Trident Tail,” a personal favorite of mine, and “The Skin Surf.” It had been mentioned earlier in the show that Tera Melos was performing their set slightly different live than on record (as has always been the case, particularly during their early days) and while they did not wander astray as much as I was expecting, the small variations and improvisations were very well executed.
As a band, despite what happened only an hour or so earlier, they were spot on. Flawless technically and more spirit and energy than the first two bands combined. Despite the fair number of people who had left, by the time they had finished the crowd wanted an encore, and Tera Melos delivered. I have to admit I don’t even remember what song it was (Party With Gina? Hmm…) but it served as an apt ending to the night regardless. So here’s to Tera Melos, and their future endeavors. To be honest, I had my doubts going into the show (the only tracks I had heard from X’ed Out were the more experimental pieces) but at the 7th Street Tera Melos showed that their new material works, at the very least, live.
At the second of two nights of sold out performances, Cloud Cult gave the crowd a good taste of their new album “Love,” as well as a handful of favorites from the past. Some fans pushed toward the front for a better glance at the paintings being created live by Connie Minowa and Scott West, while others bounced around completely oblivious except for the rhythm in their shoes. Craig Minowa gushed happily about being back in the band’s hometown, while the rest of the band grinned from ear to ear.
So, The Dakota is pretty much acknowledged as a great place to see a show by now. I mean, any joint where Prince chooses to hold surprise late-night jams and gets a nod for “Best Local Concert” from City Pages is pretty much an open secret, yeah? It’s not just an old-school jazz club with a delicious menu at a price range from discount apps to “I just signed to a label” that sells out Bad Plus shows around Christmas, but also a great spot to see acoustically sparkling late-night tunes from local hotness like Fort Wilson Riot, Zoo Animal and Hanna von der Hoff. We know this by now, right?
So go check out a show at The Dakota – not because we told you to, but because a couple of our local faves are playing there tonight and tomorrow. Fresh off of shows in Europe and Winona, Caroline Smith & Jesse Schuster play the room tonight at 7pm for $15. We’ve loved The Good Night Sleeps for years and their evolution from folky to sultry is getting all the buzz. Tomorrow, the 26th, The New Standards kick into gear at 8pm for $30 – that’s New Standards pricing, but you know that the dry-suited humor and technical prowess of Munson, Poling & Roehm deserves a room like the Dakota. And it’s finally Spring, which this year should be considered a statewide holiday, so we don’t need to reserve The New Standards for Christmas.
Lianne La Havas charmed the hell out of the Varsity Theater on Sunday night, seducing anyone in the packed room who wasn’t already a devotee. After making a stop in the studios of 89.3 the Current last winter as part of a TV media tour, the English singer made her first proper stop in the Twin Cities in style. Outfitted with black vinyl Mickey Mouse necklace, gold six-inch platforms and belt around her asymmetrical white cocktail dress reading “WHEN DOVES CRY,” which was fitting, because Prince was watching from up in the balcony.
His Purpleness would have seen a performer comfortable in her own skin, with an authentic exuberance and a burgeoning, fanatic fan base. With her lilting guitar and blend of soul, folk and Caribbean rhythms, La Havas had a shimmy in her shoulders and a push in her voice that more than filled the room. Backed by a solid band with drums, keys and guitar and backup singer, the group had the chops to keep the room alive, from the quieter to tunes to the big numbers. From La Havas exhorting the crowd on to join in the claps and stomps of the title track to her debut record Is Your Love Big Enough?, to the conflicted desires of “Tease Me,” a song she said she wouldn’t feel comfortable playing for her parents and “Lost and Found,” a song that was sensual and defiant, she worked the crowd like the with a wistful, subtle key changes, and soaring runs.
“You saved my soul!” one concert-goer shouted towards the end of her set and although La Havas may not be icon-ready yet, she definitely is worthy of the moment. Commenting on the crowd at the end of the night, she beamed out, “Lots of “I love yous.” Lots of love in Minneapolis. I love love…I’m Lianne La Havas, and I love my job. Because of you.”
Check out Staciaann’s photoset on Vita.mn (link coming soon!)
Well, it’s that time of year again. SXSW! I’m in sunny (thank God) Austin, Texas and ready to rock. Well… sort of. To be honest, I’m sort of over this whole thing. I look back and shake my old lady “get off my lawn” fists while remembering my first few years in 2007-2009 when it was fresh, new, full of friends, and just smaller. Yes, there’s been numerous articles more well-written than this about the same topic, but still, here it is. The whole over-corporatized over-saturated thing is just the tip of why this festival – yes, festival – just isn’t what it should be. Didn’t this used to be a conference? That weird dreaded “I’m going for work” word used by my boss when we’re off to things that I’m generally sort of ambivalent to. Not that there’s not information to be gleaned from said conferences, but festival is just an entirely different connotation.
Leavin’ on a jet plane…
I had a good conversation on my way to the hotel from the airport with the cabbie. He lamented how SXSW has grown and brought up some good points about the change in attendee, the age gap, and the way it’s no longer about finding and supporting smaller bands and increasingly about pimping bands that already have a following. Why go see some unknown band when you can see Prince?
My fav! Best Wurst with lots of curry ketchup!
This isn’t to say SXSW has “gone bad” or fails in some way, it’s just that it’s changed and it’s shifted, even in the short seven years I’ve attended things are different. Noticeably different. For some, that’s a great thing. They like having all these crazy big bands around town. They like the free Lone Star and the scramble to get a few free tacos. I’ve been there and that’s completely awesome. BUT. There’s part of me that wants to wander around and find new music by hearing something flowing from a doorway. I know I can still do that, but it’s increasingly harder and harder to get there.
Yipes! Look who I found wandering around SXSW
Now, there are fun things to do here. There are awesome strangers on 6th Street in costume and great posters and some ridiculous music. There are bands I can’t wait to see, the trade show, a few decent-sounding panels, and friends to hang out with. I’m looking forward to all of that. So I can’t say that SXSW has me bummed out, or that I totally don’t want to be here, but it’s just different. Different is ok, but when it begins to sway what used to be an industry conference more toward an all out party-down festival it starts to lose focus. That’s where I start to drift.
Well, at least I sort of saw Grumpy Cat at SXSW
This year, I’m down here for work. It’s a great job and I’m super excited for the students down here. We’ve got a killer lineup, a great venue, wonderful weather, fun sponsors and I’m really honestly looking forward to our show. Plus, it’s going to be awesome seeing these guys get their confidence going and really put in work to make this show happen. So that’s where the original spirit of SXSW lives on. It’s this new crop of people learning how to run the music industry in its current state. Realizing that things are constantly changing and moving and being able to roll with it. I’m hopeful they learn what they need to do to make their way in this world of music. I think SXSW is still a good step to making that happen. If only to get themselves embedded in the real world and outside the classroom.
Divine Fits at the Moody ACL Theater
Cirque du Soleil at the Moody ACL Theater
Today I’m all in. I’m heading over the Convention Center for a panel with Amanda Palmer. We’ve been talking a lot about her Kickstarter and Ted talk in my Promotions & Publicity class, and I hope that her talk will add to my knowledge of her as a case study. Then it’s off to the trade show, Flatstock, and some shows. I’m really hoping to catch Iggy & the Stooges, but there’s a 3-4 hour wait in line potential there, and I’m not into that any more. I’ve seen Mr. Pop and so it goes. See, there I go feeding right into the “larger band” machine. But so it goes. More tomorrow…
…and this is what makes this whole trip worth it for me:
Perhaps the most provocative thing about Shá Cage’s performance, N.I.G.G.E.R., now playing at Intermedia Arts, is that it is not really provocative. It is evocative. It is necessary. It doesn’t tell us anything new, and that is what is most astounding about its power. It is a teaching reminder. It tells us stories that many wish were relegated to history, but carry on. It is past, in that way that William Faulkner put it, isn’t even past.
Cage is masterful in her storytelling, gathering snippets of interviews around the word in question (which she pointed out in talking afterwards, she was not using as the title of the piece as license to say freely, as emphasized by the periods and strikethrough) and through a mix of embodying different characters, her own poetry as well as Gil Scott-Heron, and video interviews, creates a kaleidoscopic picture of the word’s complexity. Supported by the excellent dancer Alissa Paris and by musician Chastity Brown providing the blues (Chrys Carroll on Saturday on Sunday) the performance purposefully poses contradictory viewpoints and leaves more questions and conflict than answers, epitomized in a phrase coming out of the mouth of an 85-year-old character, “The soup tastes different in everyone’s mouths.”
The soup may taste different, but it is piping hot. The recent arrests of MC Hammer and the frisking of Oscar-winning actor Forest Whitaker belie the structural racism that exists in “post-racial” America. As one attendee asked in discussion afterward, how are we are a post-racial society when President Obama got on TV after the Sandy Hook massacre, only to have “People dropping the ‘N-Bomb’ on him because they want to watch football?” As Ta-Nehisi Coates put it in the op-ed in the New York Times:
“I am trying to imagine a white president forced to show his papers at a national news conference, and coming up blank. I am trying to a imagine a prominent white Harvard professor arrested for breaking into his own home, and coming up with nothing. I am trying to see Sean Penn or Nicolas Cage being frisked at an upscale deli, and I find myself laughing in the dark.”
Cage creates nervous laughter in the dark with tumultuous boxing match against a poetic, riffing list of free-associative names, an jarring collection of shadow puppet projections of stereotypical images recalling Kara Walker’s paper cutouts and full-blown rending trauma with stories of love and death in the plantations. If all this leaves an audience unsettled, nervous, discursive, angry and questioning, N.I.G.G.E.R. has succeeded. The more teaching, the less forgetting of history we do, the more we can move forward, lurching confusedly, poetically into the future. We need it, and we need brave storytellers like Cage, and brave audiences.
Jesse Schuster and Caroline Smith at the Cake Shop in 2012
Have you ever wondered why we put on the Cake Shop shows, how we go about doing it and what other house show options there are out there in the Twin Cities? We’ll now’s your chance to jump in on that conversation! This Tuesday, March 12th at 6:30pm at Republic Seven Corners, Springboard for the Arts (c.a.s.’ daytime employer) is hosting a panel discussion on house shows! The event is Pay-What-You-Can and you can register here.