VGM CON, MSPIFF, The War and Treaty: This Week’s Best Events
So many acronyms!
11:56 AM CDT on April 10, 2023
Welcome to Event Horizon, your weekly roundup of the best events in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Rick Bronson’s House of Comedy
Last year this razor-sharp Brooklyn comedian made his Tonight Show debut and, perhaps of less consequence, appeared locally at the 10,000 Laughs Festival. Wakim pops up more frequently to his growing TikTok audience of over 20K. Onstage he’s a total natural, delivering smart bits about race and culture with a winking assurance that we’re all in on the joke. In his Tonight Show closer, Wakim rope-a-dopes the audience with an earnest, devastating story about the overt racism he endured growing up Middle Eastern in ‘00s Indiana, before unleashing a pumpkin-spice hummus punchline that skewers the performative wokeness of corporate America. There’s a reason this young comic has been chosen as an opener for Kyle Kinane, Todd Glass, Moshe Kasher, and Nikki Glaser. $24/$59.40. 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 9:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday. 60 E. Broadway, Bloomington; find more info here.—Jay Boller
Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Fest
The Main Cinema
For the past 42 years, MSPIFF has brought a mind-boggling number of films to Minnesota. We’re talking about movies from over 50 countries in over 50 languages. Whew. Special collections include dives into new Asian, African, and Latino cinema. There’s a showcase celebrating women filmmakers, another focuses on LGBTQ flicks, and yet another is all about Minnesota makers. Highlights include Dreamin’ Wild, Bill Pohlad’s latest directorial effort examining the late in life success of Donnie Emerson; and It’s Only Life After All, a documentary covering the 40-plus year careers of Indigo Girls Amy Ray and Emily Saliers. There’s also a new movie about Mary Tyler Moore, and the buzzy Chevalier, about a Black violinist/composer who had a love affair—and falling out with—Marie Antoinette. Stay tuned at Racket: We’ll be covering the fest, which is mostly taking place at the newly(ish) renovated Main Cinema, but will also be popping up at the Landmark Center and the Capri Theater. Check out the complete schedule online, and stay tuned at Racket as Keith Harris will be taking in as many screenings as he can. 115 SE Main St., Minneapolis. Through April 27—Jessica Armbruster
Backyard Trailer Explosion
Movie trailers are an art form—hell, sometimes they’re better than the movie itself. With this in mind, trailer enthusiast Mark Har of Casket Cinema brings us Backyard Trailer Explosion, an ongoing series featuring deep dives into B-movie teasers, drive-in commercials, and miscellaneous promo materials, all spliced together into one beautiful sizzle reel of schlock. This installment features all kinds of bad stuff: biker gangs, criminal activity, kung fu blowouts, murderers getting up to no good, and more. Expect clips from familiar hits, like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, as well as bits from lesser-seen stuff like Italian zombie flick Dr. Butcher and Starcrash, a 1978 sci-fi movie featuring a pre-fame David Hasselhoff and, ironically, women in space bikinis. There’s gonna be a lot of weird shit on the screen tonight, so leave the kids at home. Admission is free, but all donations go to Casket Cinema so they can keep unearthing this majestic crap. 8 p.m. 681 17th Ave. NE, Minneapolis.—Jessica Armbruster
Spring Junk Bonanza
Will this junk justify the pricey cost of admission? That’s the roll of the vintage dice you’re taking with Spring Junk Bonanza, a collection of 150+ vendors selling old-timey wares down at the ol’ racetrack. We’re encouraged by the vendor application, which stipulates that merchandise must be over 40 years old, thus eliminating the racks upon racks of new crap you’ll often encounter at so-called thrift stores. Photos from past bonanzas also appear to be mostly encouraging. Not interested in antiquing but have a speedy dog? We’ll use this space to note that April 15 is the final day to register for Canterbury’s Dog Race Days. $12/$25. 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. 1100 Canterbury Rd., Shakopee; find more info here.—Jay Boller
VGM CON: Oops, All Zelda
Crowne Plaza Minneapolis West
Minnesota's Video Games and Music Convention is back in 2023, with open gaming, a speedrun marathon, lots of live music, visiting artists and exhibitors, and more. More, you say? Yep! There’s stuff like the Game Music Remix Awards, for which hundreds of tracks have been submitted by musicians from all over; they’ll be critiqued by a panel of guest judges in hopes of being crowned the winner in one of 10 categories. (If you can’t make it, don’t worry—the awards, like most of the weekend-long event, will also be streamed live on Twitch.) "We have more musical acts and thoughtful presentations than we've ever had before and are so excited for an incredible weekend,” says VGM CON director of programming Austin Colden. “The amount of creativity and talent being poured into our event by the community is incredibly humbling." Find tickets and more info here. Tickets start at $32 in person; online events are $0-$55. 3131 Campus Dr., Plymouth. Through Sunday—Em Cassel
Eric D. Johnson has made a nice little career of re-twisting soft-rock tropes and tricks in an indie setting over the past 25 years. You can hear how far he’s come as a songwriter and recording artist on the compilation Sometimes a Cloud is Just a Cloud: Slow Growers, Sleeper Hits and Lost Songs (2001–2021). His latest, River Running to Your Heart, is on the peppier side of AM gold, radiating a contented warmth and a sort of reluctant restlessness. “The words of this song/Though geographically specific/They could apply to anywhere,” he sings, namechecking Tacoma and Los Angeles and no doubt referencing other unnamed places he once lived or visited. And speaking of places, Johnson is known to spend a good amount of time in Minnesota—his sister lives in Minneapolis, his parents in Brainerd—and he’s performed with various Twin Cities musicians. With V.V. Lightbody. $25/$30. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; find more info here.—Keith Harris
Saint Paul Art Crawl
Since 1991, the Saint Paul Art Crawl has been inviting people to explore the studios, galleries, and artists’ lofts in our capital city. That makes it the longest running event of its kind in the nation. The crawl began as a Lowertown showcase, but over the years it has expanded and grown to encompass 10 different neighborhoods to be enjoyed over the course of about a month. Things kick off this weekend with happenings on the West Side, Cathedral Hill, and Summit Grand, followed by weekends on West Seventh, downtown and Lowertown, and in South Como, Payne/Phalen, and Merriam Park. Hours vary per venue, but in general each weekend they are: 6-10 p.m. Friday; noon to 8 p.m. Saturday; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Find more details here. Through May 7—Jessica Armbruster
This Portland rage-rap surrealist (if you wanna be fancy about it) and/or plain old weirdo (if you want to be realistic) dropped his third album, Afterlyfe, two days shy of his 23rd birthday last month. That release joins four mixtapes and a half-dozen EPs that have fired up a committed teen fanbase that you'll want to stay well out of the way of at the Armory, all on a mission to make 28-year-old rap fans feel old. He’s a guy who can rap “I made a song for the Minions, uh/How much they paid me? A million, uh” one minute, then detail his druggy excesses the next. The genuinely ancient among us are just amused: as ragers go, he’s fairly tame; as weirdos go, he’s a spacey joker; and as surrealists go, well, he’s a guy who did a song for the Minions soundtrack. All ages. $57 and up. 8 p.m 500 S. Sixth St., Minneapolis; more info here.—Keith Harris
Hook & Ladder
We’ll state it here for all readers and potential advertisers to see: Racket loves weed. So much so that we devoted an entire week of programming—Weed Week—to the wacky stuff. It’s safe to say the CannaWomen Collective feels the same way, as evidenced by the pre-4/20 THC blowout they’re throwing at The Hook. Cannasesh will feature live glass blowing with Legacy Glass, LED grow light demonstrations, games, food trucks, and vendors offering free samples of gummies, treats, and seltzers. Dangerous Man, Kite Soda, Eastlake, and Higher Vibez will be there, and there will also be music from some of the best DJs in town: Shannon Blowtorch, Sophia Eris, IzzieP, and Bootsy Ballins. 21+. Free. 3-9 p.m. 3010 Minnehaha Ave., Minneapolis; find more info here.—Jay Boller
OMNI Brewery & Taproom
It ain’t too late to poke your beer! OMNI’s Bock Party invites you to partake in a trio of beer releases—Bock Party, Doppelbock, and Märzen—all of which would welcome a nice jab from a hot poker. They’ll also have live music from The Jugsluggers and The Squires Band, with eats from Adventure Bowls and Northeast Pretzels. If you’re still not familiar with beer poking, the Strib recently went long on the ancient and presently popular practice, which involves heating a metal rod over a fire and then plunging it into a frosty mug of beer, caramelizing the malt sugars in the process. But all you really need to know is: beer, outside, around a fire. The good stuff! Free. Noon to 5 p.m. for poking; foods trucks and tunes ‘til 8 p.m. 9462 Deerwood Ln. N., Maple Grove.—Em Cassel
30 Days of Biking Halfway High Five
Graze Provisions + Libations
A few weeks ago, Em Cassel wrote this about the 30 Days kickoff ride: “The forecast is showing sunshine and a high of 37 this Saturday—better weather than we get some years for the start of 30 Days of Biking.” What the weather reports weren’t telling us yet at the time of writing was that we were going to get a blizzard the day before. And so, for the first time ever (in our memories, at least) 30 Days’ opening ride was canceled because the roads were unsafe and unrideable. Despite that minor delay (that snow melted fast!) folks have been working on their pledge to ride their bikes every day in April. To celebrate, the 30 Days gang is hosting a redo ride, a family-friendly trip that will mark the halfway point of the challenge. It departs from Graze Provisions + Libations in the North Loop. Leaders will take riders on a 4’ish-mile cruise along the Mississippi, and ending back at Graze to enjoy drinks and snacks. The forecast this time says to expect a high of 48 and some rain–sounds better than last time, at least! Free. Noon to 4 p.m. 520 N. Fourth St., Minneapolis.—Jessica Armbruster
The War and Treaty
There’s nothing quite like a husband-wife vocal duo—somehow the heartbreak cuts deeper and the pledges of love soar higher when you know the singers are going home together at the end of the night. Married Michiganders Michael Trotter Jr. and Tanya Trotter first made a splash in 2017 with the cello-driven “Hi Ho” (keep those Lumineers comparisons to yourself) and slowly accrued wider interest until last May they signed to UMG Nashville. Their fourth album, Lover’s Game, released in March and cut with prestige Nashville producer Dave Cobb, is the best sampler yet of their supper-club gospel blues drawled with a down home feel. The writing isn’t quite as classic as the music, but certain moments—when Tanya offers to bring a six-pack over and watch Golden Girls reruns, or Michael tells his angel “you make me want to make out at your altar”—sure have the spirit. With William Prince. $26-$56. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; find more info here.—Keith Harris
Message from Our Planet: Digital Art from the Thoma Collection
Weisman Art Museum
Good news, everyone—it’s spring. At least at the Weisman, whose spring 2023 exhibition, “Message from Our Planet: Digital Art from the Thoma Collection,” opens this week. Inspired by the Voyager 1 spacecraft, which was used as a repository of human culture on Earth, the idea is to offer a sort of time capsule from artists working in digital media to the people of the future. To that end, the exhibit gathers the work of 19 artists who use software, video, and light technology as their media. Among those featured are Hong Hao, Jenny Holzer, Lee Nam Lee, Christian Marclay, Tabita Rezaire, and Robert Wilson. 333 E. River Pkwy, Minneapolis; find more info here. Through May 21–Keith Harris
Fluidity: Identity in Swedish Glass
American Swedish Institute
Glass artist Jo Andersson doesn’t just want you to gaze upon her works. She wants you to experience them as a meditative tool for self reflection. “Being is a light installation which is intended to help bring individuals into the present moment,” she says via artist’s statement. “I wanted to create a safe space where viewers could lose themselves and fully experience the work as well as their responses to the work.” So, what does that entail? At ASI, you’ll enter a dimmed room full of glass sculptures filled with water. You’ll be encouraged to use camera phones to illuminate pieces and place with the lighting. From there? Take some time for self reflection. (If nothing else, this show should make for some good visual ASMR.) In addition to Andersson’s ambitious installation, the exhibition will also showcase pieces by female glass artists from the museum’s permanent collection. Friday’s opening night party will feature an artist’s talk, live music, an outdoor glass and fire installation, and a hands on glass activity from 6 to 9 p.m. Tickets are $25. 2600 Park Ave., Minneapolis.Through May 28–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 Place, Minneapolis. Through July 16, 2023—Jessica Armbruster
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