Etran de l’Aïr, Goats at Insight, CONvergence: This Week’s Best Events
It's a short but stacked week in the Twin Cities.
11:18 AM CDT on July 5, 2023
Welcome to Event Horizon, your weekly roundup of the best events in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Etran de l’Aïr
There’s no shortage of Tuareg “desert blues” available to US listeners—Bombino and Mdou Moctar may not be household names, but anyone with a passing interest in African rock has heard them jam. And as far as touring African musicians go these days, you’re as likely to catch a Saharan guitar-slinger on a local stage as you are a Malian kora-meister or even an Afrobeats pop star. No, wait, stay with me here. Even if nothing I’ve written so far makes a lick of sense to ya, anyone who likes electric guitars and propulsive grooves—not a small audience, right?—should check out Etran de l’Aïr. With their great 2018 debut, No. 1, this Niger family band secured their place among the premier practitioners of blues Saharan rock, with its circular melodies, triumphant ululations, and flashy improvisations. Their 2022 followup, Agadez, was even more impressive—a bit more virtuosic, the rhythms less choppy. On the album at least, they’re much less Hendrix-y than popular fave Moctar, but we’ll just have to see where their guitars go when they cut loose live. $17/$20. 8 p.m. 1601 University Ave. W., St. Paul; find more info here.—Keith Harris
Hyatt Regency Minneapolis
Fans of science fiction and fantasy have been gathering annually since 1999 for CONvergence, a multiday, multi-event celebration of all kinds of fandoms. Here you’ll find all the amenities a good gathering of this sort has to offer. There will be an artists’ alley and merch floor with items ranging from very niche to coveted by all. There will be guests, including author Maurice Broaddus, voice actor Colette Feehan, fashion designer Samantha Rei, and international cosplayer Michael “Knightmage” Wilson. In the evenings, folks can make their way to a room party, get fancy and attend the masquerade, dance to DJ tunes, or binge a series in a screening room. For tickets, the complete schedule, and even more info, visit convergence-con.org. $75; $135 weekend pass. 1300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis. Through Sunday–Jessica Armbruster
"So long as the music plays, we have no choice but to dance," Max Freedman declares on "Are You Free Tonight?" shortly before deciding to pop a pill. There's plenty on the San Francisco quartet's new Peace Loving People for indie old-timers and youth who think they swiped part of their style from Parquet Courts alike. It's unkempt and slack, artily mistuned, with vocals spoken, shouted, or drawled with just enough of that "do they mean it or not?" quotient necessary for their anxious diffidence to work. Messages include "Which losers today tomorrow will win?," "I got so much left to lose," and "I hate the players and the game." Local faves Scrunchies and Eau Claire-spawned indie experimentalists Gash open. $15. 8:30 p.m. 1601 University Ave. W., St. Paul; find more info here.—Keith Harris
First Avenue’s Rock Lottery
Whoever came up with this idea deserves a raise. For Rock Lottery, First Ave has gathered up 25 local musicians (it’s quite a crew, including rapper Student 1, Kerry Alexander of Bad Bad Hats, versatile sideman Jake Hanson, and a whole lot more), and tonight at The Depot (7 p.m., if you're interested) they'll be drafted into five different bands. Each group will then have 48 hours to whip up a set of new material for Friday's show. The results could be a mess. They could be brilliant. They could be a brilliant mess. In any case, this exercise in forced collaboration seems worth checking out. $15. 7:30 p.m. 701 N. First Ave., Minneapolis; find more info here.—Keith Harris
Funniest Person in Minneapolis
Acme Comedy Co. has thrown its Funniest Person in the Twin Cities contest for decades, but it appears the newer comedy room at Sisyphus is only focused on the younger, better, bigger city for its contest. (Come at me St. Paul subscribers—it’s my birthright to talk this trash!) In any case, this month-long standup throwdown will feature 10 to 12 contestants performing three-minute sets that might advance ‘em in the tourney. At month’s end, a scrappy upstart will emerge from the heap with the titular honorific as their prize. Sisyphus is also booking nightly headliners to ensure this won’t be a total amateur hour. Arrive early to ensure you snag a seat at this no-cover event. Free. 8-11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. 712 Ontario Ave. W. #100, Minneapolis; find more info here. Through July—Jay Boller
Boom Days 2023
Boom Island Brewing Company
Boom Island is celebrating 12 years of beers this year with a two-day festival in their Minnetonka taproom. During the weekend, they’ll have special beers on tap, games to play, and a local vendors’ market. They’ll also have food trucks (Taco Way, Northeast Pretzels, Deep Roots, and 612 Teppanyaki on Friday; Chili Lime, Griddle on the Go, Pronto Pups, and Jamo's Pies on Saturday) and lots of live music (Spaghetti Monetti and the Sauce, Bill Patten Trio Friday; GUYTANO Saturday). Free. Noon to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 5959 Baker Rd. #320, Minnetonka; find more info here.—Em Cassel
Return of the Goats
Michael Jordan and Lebron James making a joint appearance at a northeast Minneapolis brewery?! Not quite… but we’ve got the next best thing: Honest-to-god barnyard goats from animal therapy operation Goat Shine kickin’ it, petting zoo-style, all day at Insight. Also making appearances are the Northeast Minneapolis Farmers Market, The Cherry on Top ice cream truck, and the Market BBQ Food Truck, the latter of whom better keep smoked goat off the damn menu, at least for today. In an effort to puff up this fairly straight-forward blurb, please enjoy these 10 amazing facts about goats. Free. 1-8 p.m. 2821 E. Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; find more info here.—Jay Boller
Summer Haus Party
Bauhaus Brew Labs
Get ready for an alliterative good time thanks to Bauhaus Brew Labs and Backyard Boombox. At this “Haus Party,” they’ll have DJs Proppa (Chicago) and Nolephant (Eau Claire) plus a long list of local artists: Tommy Hill, Cyber Kinetic, Alvin Stone, Contribe, Immersa, Bok Choy Boi, Stereogo, odd fashioned, Pearlescent, Davilla, Elle, and Skanr. There’ll be beers and seltzers, of course, and they’re dialing up the energy by partnering with Eklipse Production to create a “festival-style atmosphere with mesmerizing sound and lighting.” (Sounds like maybe a THC seltzer is in order, mmm?) Think Bauhaus’s Liquid Zoo Art-A-Whirl shows, dialed up even further. Find more info and RSVP here. Free. 1-10 p.m. 1315 Tyler St. NE, Minneapolis.—Em Cassel
Franconia Sculpture Park
I mean, come on. You don’t need to hear our little song ‘n’ dance about why this event totally rules. You’ve got an endlessly watchable masterpiece from Stanley Kubrick which, this writer can affirm from a recent re-viewing, holds the hell up; you’ve got the funkiest, most outdoorsy public art space in the state. In the grand peanut butter/chocolate tradition, these great things will go great together. True Shining-heads might wanna pregame with Room 237, a conspiracy-fueled 2012 documentary that attempts to unpack the meaning behind that fateful winter at the Overlook Hotel. Snacks and drinks will be available for purchase. Free ($5 per car parking). 9-11:30 p.m. 29836 St. Croix Tr. N., Shafer; find more info here.—Jay Boller
Driveway Tour Theater
In the summer, theater troupes take to the parks, lawns, and lakes of the cities to perform free shows for the sunburned masses. That includes productions for kids, thanks to Open Eye Theatre, which heads to your neighborhood driveways, backyards, and front lawns each year. The 2023 lineup will feature two plays: Tucker’s Robot (June 10-July 16) tells the tale of a kid facing his fears thanks to a time-traveling mechanical friend, while Molly and the Magic Boot (July 19-August 27) is about tech-free adventures on a farm. Open Eye estimates that they visited around 51 communities in 2022, and that number continues to increase. Locations vary from week to week; this weekend they’ll be popping up at Dancing Bear Chocolate on the north side and Arbeiter Brewing in south Minneapolis. Do you have a rad backyard? You can even sign up to host a show. All events are free and open to the public (donations are accepted). You can find the complete schedule at openeyetheatre.org/driveway-tour. Through August 27–Jessica Armbruster
Unicorn and Llama Races
Unlike Vegas, which ditched its 1990s attempt at appealing to families with the the more honest “What Happens in Vegas” tagline, Canterbury does a genuinely good job at providing activities for kiddos and their vice-seeking adults. Case in point: The zoologically diverse summertime racing series that sends dogs, ostriches, and, this week, “unicorns” and llama flying down the track for our amusement. (Canterbury doesn’t come totally clean on what these so-called unicorns are; we’re guessing horses with cones affixed to their heads, but we’ll be happily surprised if they wrangled actual mythical beasts.) The fun isn't limited to novelty racing either, as Family Day also includes: face painting, pony rides, arts 'n' crafts, an arcade, facetime with the llamas, and the opportunity for human children to race the track (don't wager on 'em; it's wrong). $5-$8. 10 a.m. 1100 Canterbury Rd., Shakopee; find more info here.—Jay Boller
Much Ado About Nothing
Classical Actor’s Ensemble is heading back to the parks this summer to bring free Shakespeare to the unwashed masses, as it was originally intended. This year’s production is Much Ado About Nothing, a 1600’s romcom that pulls out all the greatest hits: mistaken identities, unwanted flirtations, masquerade shenanigans, raging small town gossip, and, ultimately, love. Sorry to spoil it for you, but we all know these things usually end in marriage (if it’s a comedy) or mass death (if it’s a tragedy). The plot: A group of rowdy soldiers end up in a small Sicilian town. Will the evil Don John succeed at cockblocking? Find the list of dates and locations at classicalactorsensemble.org. Through July 16—Jessica Armbruster
The Nicollet xChange
Our city leaders really want us to go to work in downtown from Tuesday through Thursday. Who knows if that’s going to happen; it’s ultimately up to your corporate overlords. But, if you are one of those people who has to sit at a desk in downtown for money, it’s nice to know that this cool weekly event is returning for the summer. Every Tuesday, the Nicollet xChange will turn the Mall into a mini street fest, with a focus on swapping goods and selling sustainable fashion and home items. Bring things to trade, from art to sports equipment, and take something new (to you, at least) home. There will also be live music, a market featuring local makers, freebies, and food trucks lining the Mall. Free. 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. 901 Nicollet Mall (9th and Nicollet), Minneapolis. Through August 29—Jessica Armbruster
Wild Nights at the Minnesota Zoo
Imagine a zoo with nary a child, one where you can sip wine and watch animals do their thing as the sun sets. Impossible, you say? Nope! We’re talking about Wild Nights at the Minnesota Zoo, a summer series for grownups. During these events folks can explore all the trails and exhibits until 8 p.m. (hilariously, they note that food and drink is not allowed in the Llama Trek walk-through exhibit). Each installment will feature a variety of concerts, all themed that night around a specific genre–country, hip-hop, blues, ‘80s New Wave, etc. Tonight’s music is brought to you by Malamanya, which will play old-school Afro-Caribbean tunes. Upcoming highlights this summer include Chastity Brown (June 22), the Cactus Blossoms (July 6), Joyann Parker Band (July 20), Nur-D (August 3), Information Society (August 17), Frogleg (August 31), and Kat Perkins (September 14). Find tickets and more info online. 18+. $40. 6-10 p.m. 13000 Zoo Blvd., Apple Valley. Through September 14—Jessica Armbruster
Skyline Mini Golf
Walker Art Center
Are we a mini-golf town? Signs point to yes, as we have trendy bar mini golf (Puttery, Arts + Rec), campy mini golf (Can Can, Betty Danger), old school mini golf (Big Stone, Golf Zone), and, yes, museum mini golf. For over 15 years, the Walker’s Mini Golf has been a sign of spring, whether it’s popping up in the sculpture garden or its more recent home on the skyline terraces. This year’s installation features 10 holes total; highlights include a Hmong textile-inspired hole created in collaboration with the Asian American Organizing Project’s Youth Action Team, and two holes from Native Youth Arts Collective. Returning hits include the hot dog hole, the one where you have to bounce off of ping pong paddles, and the one where you become the obstacles and hazards. Find more info at walkerart.org. $12. 725 Vineland Place, Minneapolis. Through October 1—Jessica Armbruster
Paul Chan: Breathers
Walker Art Center
Can those inflatable tube guys used to drive people to sales be art? If it’s in the Walker Art Center then, yes, it can. But that would be oversimplifying the work of Paul Chen, a Hong Kong-born, Nebraska-raised, NYC-based writer, publisher, and artist. In the ‘90s and ‘00s, Chan garnered attention releasing videos, animations, fonts, and more, often for free on his website, nationalphilistine.com. These pieces explored pleasure, war, politics, and human interactions. But by 2009, he had burned out, tired of looking at a screen. Relatable. Five years later, after a brief, you know, “breather,” he found a new way to explore movement and meaning without a computer, instead using physics, fabrics, and fans to create shapes that move about in interesting ways (and, thankfully, won’t try to sell you a car). You can see these kinetic sculptures at the Walker; the show will also include some video installations as well as pieces from his publishing company, Badlands Unlimited, which releases poetry, erotica, artists’ writings, and more. 725 Vineland Pl., Minneapolis. Through July 16, 2023—Jessica Armbruster
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