Tis the Season for Your Complete Concert Calendar: Dec. 12-17
Pretty much all the live music you can catch in the Twin Cities this week.
10:42 AM CST on December 12, 2023
The holidays shows are rollin' in, and from VocalEssence filling Orchestra Hall with sounds of sweet reverence to Impaler noisily extolling the joys of Krampus at the Turf, there's a little something for everyone.
Tuesday, December 12
- bar italia with Ava Levy @ Turf Club—As you might expect for a band named after a Pulp song, this trio is British. (No way I’d come anywhere near a U.S. band named for a Pulp song.) Bar Italia released their Matador debut Tracey Denim in the spring, and its followup, The Twits, in November, and there’s no discernible growth or drop off: This is a band that has its sound and it’s sticking to it. There’s something wobbly and cobbled together about that sound—the guitars add just enough dissonance to the tunes, typically resonating at a midpoint between Wire and Sonic Youth, while trying to walk the relatively straight line the drums lay out for them. Just as striking is the vocal contrast between dry and cool Nina Cristante and her more desperate male counterparts Jezmi Fehmi and Sam Fenton. Not that Cristante doesn’t have her own worries—“I can't just pick up a story/And make it the whole of who I am,” she laments—but icy decrees like, “You're just not worth the time/You're too scared to immerse yourself” are more her speed. Of course, a lot of the time I can’t tell what they’re singing about, whether it’s because voices are drowned in the din, the lyrics are too cryptic, or their content is too British. But with a band like this a little opacity is part of the charm.
Wednesday, December 13
- Aqua @ Fillmore—What’s more American than a good ol’ fashioned cash grab? Danish Europop band Aqua have capitalized on multiple cultural moments since originally breaking up in 2001—first with the rush of '90s nostalgia, and now with the Barbie zeitgeist that uniquely fits their only hit. After the campy “Barbie Girl” attained ubiquity in the summer of '97, Mattel sued MCA Records; "the parties are advised to chill" Judge Alex Kozinski said while dismissing the case in 2002. These days Aqua seems to be on friendly terms with the toy giant. “Barbie World,” their Barbie soundtrack collab with rappers Nicki Minaj and Ice Spice, has earned 374 million Spotify plays, a No. 7 Billboard position, and two Grammy noms. The U.K. tabloids claim that while Lene Nystrøm, René Dif, and Søren Rasted look “unrecognisable” from their Clinton-era heyday (that’s the passage of time for ya), the Aqua trio “delighted fans” on their current reunion tour. Expect plenty of blasts from the past, considering the dance-pop group hasn’t released an album in over a dozen years.—Jay Boller
Thursday, December 14
- KC Rae (of Now, Now) with Athletic Assistants @ 7th St Entry—There’s a bit of a “lonesome cowboy” vibe to KC Rae’s lyrics on her first solo project, Think I’m Gonna Die, for which she learned to play the mandolin and banjo. (She plays every instrument on the record apart from bass and drums, which are handled by her bandmate in the alt-rock/pop duo Now, Now, Bradley Hale.) Rae’s sitting by the phone knowing it won’t ring; she’s lying in a parking lot, listening to the bark of a lonely dog; she’s got a “masochistic imagination,” dreaming of kissing someone who’s “got your mind changing/What’d you go and do that for?” To be clear, Think I’m Gonna Die isn’t a full pivot to country. Rather, the genre weaves through Rae’s indie pop, coming across stronger on certain songs than others, as she deals with some hard shit. She questions her reality, contemplates disappearing; she thinks the sadness will go away if she ignores it. (It won’t.) At times she sings, heartbroken, directly to you, but the you is prismatic, reflecting Rae’s discontent back to herself. Read our full interview with Rae here.—Lydia Moran
- Nelly, Ja Rule, Ashanti, and T.I. @ Target Center—A little sad to these once-dominant hitmakers all clumped together in the hopes of filling an arena, but such is pop.
Friday, December 15
- Robert Glasper @ Dakota—A jazz pianist born late enough (1978) to come up on hip-hop and neo-soul, Glasper is probably best known outside of jazz for his keyboard work on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly, which was integral in defining that album’s sound. In the past two decades, he’s achieved crossover success at Blue Note with his feature-heavy Black Radio releases, the third of which, released last year, offered Killer Mike, Jennifer Hudson, Me'Shell Ndegéocello, Q-Tip, Esperanza Spalding, and many, many—many—more guests. It’s tempting to call Glasper’s music “fusion,” but that term implies the forced yoking of disparate styles; instead, Glasper treats contemporary Black music as a smooth confluence of genres. He just played a three-night stand at the Dakota in January, and he must have liked it because he’s back for another three nights
- Impaler with Dumpster Juice, Plague of Stars, and New Rocket Union @ Turf Club—The veteran local shock-rockers return as they do each holiday season to celebrate the rampages of Krampus.
Saturday, December 16
- Durry with DNM @ First Avenue—Racket had the scoop on Durry’s wildly viral 2021 rise, when the brother-sister local band blew up with 200,000 plays on TikTok (that figure now soars past 1 million). A grunge-pop shoutalong with vocals that alternately summon My Chemical Romance and Post Malone, the song “Who’s Laughing Now” stirred up attention from “very big name” management firms; the band was booked solid with industry Zoom meetings, and the single scored placement on Spotify-curated playlists. Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit and Chris Riemenschneider of the Star Tribune are fans. Durry debuted that July at a sold-out 7th St. Entry, just as live music began its comeback, with singer-songwriter Austin Durry predicting the “post-TikTok” concerts will be wild. He wasn’t wrong: Durry has since graduated to the Mainroom.—Jay Boller
- Mark Mallman Presents: Peace on Earth (7th Annual Rock Concert of Joy) @ Icehouse—The consummate showman and earnestly over-the-top pomp-rocker brings you glad tidings once again.
- Heiruspecs with Dosh, Lady Lark and DJ Eddie Sizza Hans @ Turf Club—Some say Heiruspecs and their annual "Holiday Classic" are the reason for the season.
Sunday, December 17
Monday, December 18
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