Flotsam River Circus, Art Vid Fest, Cheap Parking Lot Beer: This Week’s Best Events
Plus art fairs, music shows, and weed parties.
12:09 PM CDT on July 31, 2023
Welcome to Event Horizon, your weekly roundup of the best events in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and beyond.
Billy Woods and Kenny Segal
Woods released two terrific albums last year, Aethiopes and Church, each of which showcased how his use of dense, allusive rhymes had crystalized into an unignorable style. Turns out that was only a warm-up. On Maps, his 2023 collaboration with producer Kenny Segal, the New York rapper flaunts his idiosyncratic ability to combine the abstract and the hyper-specific, rapping bout “smokin’ alone in a cardigan” at his desk while overhearing the commotion after a Carti show empties out, singing the praises of "NYC Tapwater," and wrapping things up with a verse about pondering his mortality while watching his kid play on the jungle gym that's striking in its directness. A nice get for the newish Uptown venue. $25. 8 p.m. 2923 Girard Ave S.; find more info here.—Keith Harris
Brandon Commodore with L.A. Buckner Trio and Omar Abdulkarim Quintet
Cross-genre drummer Commodore, whose credits include Sounds of Blackness and Mint Condition, closes out his month-long residency at Icehouse by selecting two great young local bandleaders to showcase. Buckner is a hard-hitting but nuanced drummer from the North Side with gospel-funk roots, and his musicianship knocked me out at two separate Dakota shows. One was with his quintet, Big Homie, earlier this year; the other was backing former astralblak soul man MMYYKK last month. Trumpeter/flugelhornist Abdulkarimat came to my attention at the latter, where his solos were among the evening’s highlights. I know I’m just catching up here, but I’m curious to hear what Buckner can do with a trio and Abdulkarim can do as a bandleader. $12/$15. 8 p.m. 2528 Nicollet Ave. S., Minneapolis; find more info here.—Keith Harris
Did you hear? We legalized it, man. That fact isn’t lost on the organizers of Legalized It, a star-studded marijuana celebration that’ll benefit The Great Rise. Headliners include Rep. Ilhan Omar and "the Music Rockers," a group that's apparently a re-branded version of longtime experimental bruisers Marijuana Deathsquads. Also appearing are local reggae vets New Primitives, rapper-turned-lawmaker Maria Isa, jazz/funk quintet JoJo Green, and a whole mess of DJs. No narcs allowed! Wanna continue the THC fun at an identically named party at Insight Brewing? See Saturday’s listings. $4.20-$12. 5 p.m. 701 N. First Ave., Minneapolis; find more info here.—Jay Boller
Xcel Energy Center
There’s something that’s been very healing to me about watching Hayley Williams and Paramore thrive. (I know, I know, parasocial relationships are bad and weird, but… what about ParaMOREsocial relationships?) She literally invented having bright orange hair , and now she runs her own super-cute dye brand. Just last year, she started performing “All I Wanted” live, something fans long speculated would be impossible given the dramatic vocal range the song requires. There’s just a tremendous sense of ease, and also joy, about her these days, and from the live videos I’ve seen it’s translating into an incredible show-going experience. This is gonna be a good one. All ages. $46.50+. 7 p.m. 199 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul; find more info here.—Em Cassel
Cat Video Fest
When the Walker Art Center hosted its first Internet Cat Video Festival in 2012, little did they know that they were hosting an epic event that would have legs. While the museum moved on in 2016, the cat was, uh, out of the bag and couldn’t be put back in. So the event moved from a grassy hill to a baseball stadium, with myTalk 107.1 picking up the organizational mantle. This year they’ve partnered with America’s Funniest Home Videos to bring you even more cats! Thursday night they're airing a delightful mix of cat photos, cat videos, and cat TikToks. Folks will be dressed in their feline best, be that a cute skater skirt with kitties on it to full-on (family-friendly) furry looks. Come as you are or come as a cat, as this is, ironically, a cat-free event (no seriously, don’t bring your cat). Find tickets and more info at catfestmn.com. $10; $75 VIP (includes A/C areas, food, and adult beverages). 6 p.m. 360 N. Broadway St., St. Paul.—Jessica Armbruster
Since 1994, the Fringe Festival has brought thousands of artists to the stage for hundreds of productions that have entertained millions. Artists local, national, and international come to town each summer to present theater in pretty much every format, genre, and topic imaginable. You should be able to find basically anything your heart desires via their online show finder, be it a pop-culture comedy, a one-woman monologue, a queer romcom, a political satire, a dystopian sci-fi, or a comically bad piece you can’t escape fast enough. Hey, there’s a lot of stuff here, so there will be duds with the delights–that’s half the fun. (And most shows hit around 30 to 45-ish minutes, so if you end up at one of those, at least it will be over soon.) Plan your Fringe by checking out the schedule at minnesotafringe.org. This year’s venues include Crane Theater, the U of M, Augsburg College, Mixed Blood, Bryant-Lake Bowl, Hook and Ladder, and others. Through August 13—Jessica Armbruster
The Teskey Brothers and Joy Oladokun
A queer, Black child of Nigerian immigrants based in East Nashville, Oladokun offers great support for “not all country music” arguments, though she’s a bit too stylistically hybrid to slot neatly as Americana. What’s most country about her latest album, Proof of Joy, is how she conveys sincerity through plainspoken commonplace lyrics like “If we can't be family/Better friends than foes.” Key to her effectiveness is emotional restraint. The tiniest bit of self-pity would sink a memory like “In the school yard when I was a kid/I gave everyone my address/Said come on over/And it turns out that nobody did. Swimming alone's how I spent my eighth birthday.” As sung it’s as devastating as the upbeat “We’re All Gonna Die” is inspiring. Co-headliners the Teskey Brothers are soulful and bluesy in the engaging, brawny manner of Chris Stapleton, though hardly world-altering. With idiosyncratic hometown rocker Thomas Abban, who’s been playing out much more recently. $25-$75. 7:30 p.m. 17 W. 7th Place, St. Paul; find more info here.—Keith Harris
Flotsam River Circus
Bohemian Flats Park
How freaking cool is this? Follow-up: What the hell is this? Per SFGATE, “The playful, hour-long show features a cast of nine gallivanting around their makeshift vessel, performing circus tricks, aerial antics and puppetry to a vaudeville-style soundtrack provided by a band featuring violin, trumpet, percussion and accordion.” Formed in 2019 in the Pacific Northwest, the Flotsam crew have taken their floating circus down a couple West Coast rivers, and their current 30-city, six-week Mississippi River trek is their “biggest tour yet.” Can’t make this one? You can follow ‘em downriver for six more Minnesota dates in the coming six days. Free. 6 p.m. The location is listed as “semi-secret,” though the provided map coordinates seem to indicate the northern part of Bohemian Flats Park at 2150 W. River Pkwy. in Minneapolis; find more info here.—Jay Boller
Carbone’s Music Fest
Live music? Outside? At a pizza pub? With beers that cost below $10, which somehow became the going rate at venues around town when we weren’t paying attention? Carbone’s Music Fest has it all, folks. Co-presented by Carbone’s and Fulton Brewery, this rain-or-shine, no-cover music fest features 16-ounce Fulton drafts for $4, food specials, prizes, and giveaways. And then there’s the music: Tori Evans and Dan Israel on Friday, followed by Aidan McMaster, Robert Everest & Michael Bissonnette, John Magnuson Trio, Trevor McSpadden, and J. Bell & the Lazy Susan Band on Saturday. Find the full rundown of set times here. Free. 7-10 p.m. Fri.; 1-10 p.m. Saturday. 4705 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis. Also Saturday—Em Cassel
Powderhorn Art Fair
It’s art fair weekend in south Minneapolis. Meaning, don’t even think about going to the Uptown Cub or Lunds. But you should think about venturing into the fray of these art fests. Uptown is a business district and a destination location for folks outside of the Twin Cities, so expect a slightly more corporate and/or suburban feel at the nearly 60-year-old Uptown Art Fair, where they’ll host tons of artists from around the country traveling the arts circuit. Meanwhile, the relatively younger 32-year-old Powderhorn Art Fair is a little more local focused, with slightly less intense crowds (though you’ll still probably want to avoid traffic around the area–hop on a bike or a bus). Both will offer food truck eats, family-friendly fun, and hundreds of artists working in pretty much every medium. Go to one, go to both (I think you can tell where I’m headed), but don’t expect to grocery shop. Free. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sat.-Sun. 3348 14th Ave. S., Minneapolis. Through Sunday—Jessica Armbruster
The Big Lebowski
The Parkway Theater
“Now this a-here story I'm about to unfold took place back in the early '90s—just about the time of our conflict with Sad'm and the I-raqis. I only mention it because sometimes there's a man—I won't say a hero, 'cause, what's a hero? But sometimes, there's a man—and I'm talkin' about the 'Dude' here. Sometimes, there's a man, well, he's the man for his time and place. He fits right in there. And that's the 'Dude' in Los Angeles. And even if he's a lazy man—and the 'Dude' was most certainly that, quite possibly the laziest in Los Angeles County, which would place him high in the runnin' for laziest worldwide. But sometimes there's a man, sometimes, there's a man. Wow, lost my train of thought here. But, aw, hell. I've done introduced him enough.” $10. 10 p.m. 115 SE Main St., Minneapolis; find more info here.—Sam Elliott (as the The Stranger in The Big Lebowski)
Legalized It! Party
It’s Stoner Christmas this week thanks to Minnesota legalizing the Devil’s lettuce. Meaning, you’re not just limited to THC bubbly, cookies, or gummies; you can now go ham with your green thumb, shop for paraphernalia without shame, and get the green stuff delivered straight to your home like an Door Dash order (more on that last item later this week in Racket). To celebrate, Insight is throwing a party for weed. Legacy Glass will be stopping by, welcoming local glass artists to set up shop and give a few glass blowing demonstrations. Should you get hungry, El Jefe food truck will be serving eats, and Christian Kivrel will show up in the evening for a fire spinning performance. Add in free munchies, live music, and a tie-dye booth and you have yourself a proper party, whether you’re high or not. Free. 3-10 p.m. 2821 E. Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis.—Jessica Armbruster
Parking Lot Party
We’re noted fans of Bull’s Horn, the peerless south Minneapolis dive bar helmed by Doug Flicker, whose previous effort, Piccolo, was once the hottest fine-dining spot in town. “Bull’s Horn is obviously a keeper,” Flicker told us last month. “I don’t see a difference between Piccolo and Bull’s Horn, it’s just more sustainable.” In conjunction with Nokomis Days, da Horn is throwing a party that, in practice, will be just like it sounds: tunes from DJ Truckstache, special “smoked pork butt corn” (we also have no idea what this is; keep an open mind, folks!), and a flea market, all outside in the damn parking lot. Neighboring Venn Brewing even collaborated with Flicker & Co. on a “Nokomis lager” they’re calling Bull Brand, which’ll debut on the lot. Free. 2-5 p.m. 4563 S. 34th Ave., Minneapolis; find more info here.—Jay Boller
Romeo and Juliet: A Pickup Truck Opera
For the past 15 years, Mixed Precipitation has brought accessible opera shows to parks, community gardens, and wineries throughout the metro and beyond. (The “pickup truck” in their name is a nod to the 2011 Ford Ranger Pickup that serves as their ride and, often, as part of their stage.) This year, they’re reimagining Romeo and Juliet via Vincenzo Bellini’s 1830 opera, I Capuleti e i Montecchi (The Capulets and the Montagues) for the modern day. In 2023, Juliet is a social media guru, helping folks live their best lives with DIY videos, recipes, and reviews while banished Romeo is sharing his carefully curated van-life from the road. Will the two manage to elope without creating a wave of murders and suicides? (We all know how this thing ends.) Despite the name, this isn’t an opera-only operation: Tunes will include hits from the Fugees, the Pixies, and Fleetwood Mac. Make reservations at mixed precipitation.org. $10-$20 suggested donation. July 29-September 10—Jessica Armbruster
Sociable Cider Werks
We’ve seen plenty of Shakespeare in the parks, but what about Shakespeare at a pub? This summer, Sociable’s patio will become a stage, as the Gray Mallard Theater Company will present a free show close to nightly over the next few weeks. You can grab a cider and some food truck eats and enjoy the antics of Twelfth Night, a comedy featuring mistaken identities, love triangles, and twin shenanigans. Click here for the complete schedule. Free. 7 p.m. 1500 Fillmore St. NE, Minneapolis. Through August 6–Jessica Armbruster
Proper, functioning cities should rock. With the annual, free, weekly, outdoor Lowertown Sounds program, St. Paul is privy to this in ways Minneapolis could really learn from. When this year’s lineup was announced, organizers noted that over half of the acts are new this summer. Non-musical offerings include great beer from Utepils and Wabasha Brewing Co., wine from Alexis Bailly Vineyard, and a rotating cast of 20 food trucks. Free. 6-9:30 p.m. 221 5th St. E., St. Paul; find more info here. Thursdays through August 24—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
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
Open Streets Minneapolis
East Lake Street
Summertime road closings kinda suck… unless we’re talking about Open Streets, where the lack of traffic just means there’s more room to party. This season’s installment will feature five neighborhood locations where the main drags will be closed to cars, but open to people on foot, on bike, or on other non-motorized modes of travel. Along the way you’ll find a variety of stuff to see and do, including parking lot concerts, sidewalk sales, middle-of-the-road yoga sessions, and pop-up beer gardens. Things kick off Saturday, June 10, on East Lake Street, followed by Glenwood (July 16), Cedar Riverside (August 20), West Broadway (September 16), and Lyndale Avenue (October 8). Free. All events begin at 11 a.m. and run until 5 p.m. Find more details at openstreetsmpls.org. East Lake Street, from 2nd Avenue South to 22nd Avenue South, Minneapolis. June 10 through October 8—Jessica Armbruster
More from Racket
‘There Is No Room for Hiding’: How Krump Created a Dance Community in Minnesota
The L.A.-born dance style, built around communal support, has a home in Minnesota.
It’s Friday. It’s Lent. Let’s Talk Fried Fish on This Week’s Open Thread.
Time to talk about whatever you want here at Racket.
Food & Wine Experience
Freeloader Friday: 52 Free Things To Do This Weekend
Book sales! A Black-owned business market!
Folks… He’s Running
Plus 'The Daily Show' visits Duluth, Japanese burgers, and violent beer in today's Flyover news roundup.
Estate Sales: The Places to Buy Rare Antique Walking Peacocks—Or Anything Else
We talked to an expert for tips and tricks at scoring secondhand deals.