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Vita.mn SXSW Send-Off

6 Mar

Last Friday night about 1200 people filled the First Avenue Mainroom and 7th Street Entry in order to catch eight local bands who are either heading down to or hoping to head down to Austin, TX next week for South by Southwest. It was the Vita.mn SXSW Send-Off and the CakeIn15 crew were there because, well, Staciaann booked it and since someone has to run a merch table and he likes local music, c.a.s. was there too.

The lineup was a cross-section of the variegated talent that the Twin Cities hold, bands that are popular here at home and some, also across the country. The Entry was reserved for the three top vote-getters in the “Are You Local?” poll, rapper Xavier Marquis and his crew, punk rockers The Japhies and the post-grunge outfit Prissy Clerks, formed with members of Red Pens and Total Babe, who wound up winning the day party spot and played another set on the big stage. In the Mainroom, recent transplant and hire-wire, neuron-firing and whiskey-spilling rapper Astronautalis headlined, Jagjaguawar-signed electro-folky act Peter Wolf Crier played a subtle and complex set, the heavy-rocking trio of The Blind Shake tore everything up on stage, Pink Mink brought their punk-rock prom swagger and Fort Wilson Riot (who, for full disclosure, c.a.s. has worked with as an actor on the Idigaragua stage show and in PR and associated promotional activities) flew back in from Arizona to test out some new songs and pierce the March grey with their vocal harmonies.

So that’s who was there playing, and it’s our opinion – and yes, we have a vested, conflicted interest in that opinion – that that’s a wildly diverse and fairly representative line-up of really great stuff percolating around here. It’s the kind of thing that makes us feel good about living in Minneapolis and what makes us even happier about all these bands is that they tour and get out of Minneapolis. Because they are good bands, they play their hearts out onstage, they work to make their records sound the best possible they can with the resources they have on hand. And if Jordan Gatesmith of Howler hates any of them, so be it. As Gabe Douglas of The 4onthefloor (who won the SXSW Send-Off last year) tweeted out in response to some of that targeted ire, “nothing but heart.”

Bands that play well in this town sometimes don’t play well elsewhere and bands that make it big elsewhere (Motion City Soundtrack seems to be a specifically pertinent example) sometimes don’t do as well here. Do we have a “gatekeeper problem”? Maybe – we all want our friends to succeed, but hopefully not at the cost of other talents – but if there is any point to all this, it’s to get out of town if you really want to test yourself. Don’t settle for being local famous, because it’s better for Minneapolis if you get wide-spread famous, or barring famous, build a network of fans in other cities so that there can be a DIY exchange of music, so that bands have friends in other cities to set up shows, crash on floors and generally go about the hard business of being a musician and artist. Why do you think Astronautalis moved here? It’s not because Doomtree sat around and planned parties for local media folks. The currency of disdain is easily traded, and also easily de-valued. So tour. Make the best records you can, we’ll try and write about them and you and come to shows as much as possible and get you the momentum to get out on the road. We may also not like your band. That’s ok too, you don’t have to like how we write. But we get to do it and we love it. Nothing but heart.

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