Author’s disclosure: I am currently sick and not fully rested. My following post my ramble on or sound choppy. I apologize, but at the very least, enjoy the pictures and PLEASE check out the bands.
With the baseball season in hibernation mode in Minnesota, October turned into a decent time to check out some live music in my area. Although the concerts/artists themselves had nothing to do with baseball, there was a small tie-in, since I was unable to watch games 5 and 6 of the World Series… and due to the greatness of the shows, this was AOK.
Show #1 – Frank Turner – Wooly’s in Des Moines, IA (October 6, 2013)
Right off the bat you might be wondering why I was in Iowa. The major reason was for this show – since my wife and I were under the assumption that Frank was not performing in the Minneapolis area. The second reason was that we have a college friend that lives in Des Moines who was gracious enough to play host and show us his lovely town. The last reason was that my brother-in-law got married the night before in Rochester (where Paul is from!), so the show was not as far away compared to if we were in Minneapolis like most normal weekends.
***I understand that most of you will not know who Frank Turner is, so this is normally the area where I’d introduce you to his music via a youtube clip… but this was not my only Frank Turner show of the month, so I will save a special video until the second of the Frank Turner gig reviews.***
My wife and I drove to Des Moines with plenty of time to meet up with our friend and his girlfriend, chat for a while at his place, and then headed over to Zombie Burger. The burger was pretty fantastic and the visuals inside also made it a worthwhile stop. While in Zombie Burger I noticed a group of four or so guys, all dressed in similar clothes, kind of looking like band members. As it would turn out, they would be one of the openers at the show – The Smith Street Band.
Here is a flier showing the concert listings at Wooly’s that was hanging up at Zombie Burger:
After consuming the last burger (to date) that I had – wife and I have since started to embrace the vegan lifestyle – we walked over to the show with plenty of time to make sure we didn’t miss the first act, Koo Koo Kanga Roo. Had we missed Koo Koo, I would hate to think of what my life would be like today. That may be a bit of an overstatement, sure, but it’s not exactly a lie either. Throughout the night I would learn interesting facts about Koo Koo which led me to think of them as the “Band I Am Most Thankful To Discover In 2013.”
My buddy, we’ll call him Kent (OK, his name really is Kent), looked at me before even seeing Koo Koo Kanga Roo and said to me that (paraphrasing) “if this opener is a children’s act, we’re out.” So it was with great surprise that when Bryan and Neil came out and assaulted us with their indescribable sound that can only begin to be described as “ENERGETIC” and Kent stayed, you knew this duo was good… I mean REAL good.
Koo Koo, as I would learn in speaking to Neil, is from Minneapolis (?!) and they mainly do children’s parties, but have recently tried to expand their audience. If the crowds at the Frank Turner shows (and the bands they tour with) are any indication, Koo Koo has easily wormed their way into the hearts of all the 16-99 year old “little kids.”
***At this point I will ask that you click on the Koo Koo link above and play at least one of the following songs: Cat Party, Unicorns R Real, I Speak Whale, Ninja Training, Awesome Rainbows, Friendship Bracelets, Lava Tag, Dinosaur Stomp, Rollin’ In The Minivan, or LMNOP.***
***PPS: Most of the songs/albums on the page are free to download. Crank to 11 and share with a friend!!!***
I made sure to pick up a copy of a handmade CD from the Koo Koo guys and also took a photo with their traveling Koo Koo Kamera.
The first photo also included the newest release from P.O.S.’s new project, “Four Fists”, while the second picture is me and Neil! (…and some weird creepy photobomber.)
The next band, the one we saw at Zombie Burger, The Smith Street Band, performed their set, but for whatever reason the experience was terrible. The sound was mixed horribly – the vocals were undecipherable and the instruments were turned up way too loud (not in an “I’m getting old” kind of way, just a “This sounds like a mess” kind of way). I am glad we got another shot in just over 3 weeks to hear them, because the guys totally “redeemed” themselves – good job Smith Street and good job Varsity Theater sound crew.
Lastly, the main act, Frank Turner. Frank puts on great shows, plain and simple. He delivers a message of having a good time while respecting others around you, and that he is no different than you or I – we all make the concert possible and we all are “the music.” This was his first gig in Iowa, so it was weird to see him and this new crowd bond. The turnout for the show was not bad, but it was not what I was used to in Minneapolis. Overall, though, it was a very decent night of music in the otherwise inferior Iowa. (Iowa readers, feel free to write me hate mail. Wait, do you guys even get the internet down there?!)
Sorry for the rather low quality of this photo. The lighting was rather bad for photos.
After the show I was able to snag a setlist:
The setlist on the right is the 10/6/2013 show, while the one on the left was from a show back in 2012. And to compare music memorabilia to baseball memorabilia, the setlist are the most common giveaways, along with guitar picks. I am not sure if one or both would be considered the “baseball” in “music-hawking”, but if my collection of setlists and guitar picks have anything to say then it’s probably a fair comparison.
Show #2 – Frank Turner – Varsity Theater in Minneapolis, MN (October 28, 2013)
I mentioned above that my wife and I were under the impression that Frank was not making a stop in Minnesota. We were wrong. It just happened that the Minnesota and Iowa stops were 3 weeks apart due to tour design. Not willing to miss a good show in our “backyard”, Jael and I were in for our second Frank Turner show of the month.
Koo Koo Kanga Roo:
After falling in love with this band in Des Moines, I kind of got obsessed with them and played their CD at work and in my car… a lot. While in Des Moines, halfway through their set, I turned to my wife and said, “these guys kind of sound like ZibraZibra.” Keeping that thought in the back of my mind, I was not shocked when I saw that the lead singer of ZibraZibra was the producer for many of the Koo Koo songs. While I was not shocked, I was ecstatic and felt the weaving web of music-relations tightening around my musical tastes. I had to tweet the Koo Koo boys and relay my excitement for them and their producer, so when they said that ZibraZibra were one of two influences that made them START the band… *sigh* AWESOME.
The homecoming party for the Koo Koo boys was intense. The guys brought their families (grandmas included), and Minneapolis brought its A-game.
Have I mentioned how much i love these guys?! It’s a bit sickening, I know, but their music is just so innocent and enjoyable. If you cannot find the humor and do not smile, you are 100% evil.
The Smith Street Band:
It’s amazing what a semi-decent mixer/sound crew can do. The Smith Street boys told some great stories in their songs and Jael especially was won over by the Aussies. I do not have much more to say about the group, but I would not be saddened to see them open for another band I like.
Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls:
The Iowa show was enjoyable, but the Minneapolis show was miles above the gig 22 days prior. Maybe Minneapolis is just a hot-bed for Frank Turner-ites, or maybe Frank considers it an extension of his “home territory” (he LOVES many bands that came out of MN and isn’t embarrassed to confess that), or maybe the Koo Koo and Smith Street boys did a perfect job of warming up the crowd. Whatever the reason, the energy and vibe was top notch.
Remember how I promised a Frank Turner video? Well how about one that I shot at this show?
Though it is not a Frank Turner song, it is a tradition (as he says in the video) that he has kept whenever playing in Minnesota… playing the Hold Steady. Similar to my feelings of learning that Koo Koo Kanga Roo and ZibraZibra had a strong connection, having a favorite UK artist admire a local favorite of mine (Craig Finn, member of The Hold Steady and Lifter Puller) just makes the grand musical landscape seem navigable and friendly.
After the show I was able to pick up another setlist as well as get a photo of me with the Frank Turner Flag that is touring North America.
The amazing part of this flag is that it is being transported from show to show by fans, and NOT by members of Frank Turner’s band.
The new setlist (left) next to the setlist from the Iowa show. I even had Nigel Powell, Frank Turner’s drummer, write the encore on the bottom.
Show #3 – Kate Nash – First Avenue in Minneapolis, MN (October 30, 2013)
Coming off the high of two days prior, I was excited for Kate Nash, but thought that there was no way that Kate Nash could top Frank Turner’s show… I was (happily and thankfully) wrong.
Knowing that Kate loves Halloween (as you can see in her videos) I sent her a tweet asking if I should dress up like Bigfoot for the show. She had no concert lined up for Halloween itself for this tour, so I thought I’d celebrate it early and hopefully make her smile. Not only did Kate encourage me to dress up, but she did this:
Much like I do for baseball games and every other concert, I got to the doors with plenty of time to spare… OK, I was the first one. The Timberwolves were having their first game of the season right across the street, so I decided to hold out and get “dressed up” inside the venue. Eventually, I looked something like this:
Oh yeah, I also met Kate after the show. 🙂
As for the concert itself, the set was perfect, the songs were rocking, and I sweated my Bigfoot balls off. I finally took off the rubber mask and hands after 5 songs and was rewarded for my crazy behavior with a drink from Ms. Nash. If you do not know about Kate, her music, or what she has been trying to do for women/girls in music, look it up.
Isn’t she pretty awesome?! It’s always good to support artists that are positive and try to give back somehow. There are plenty of artists that I like that do not give back, that act like idiots, and separate themselves from their fans, and I get it. I still appreciate their music, but with Frank and Kate, it’s something different. I actually respect the individuals behind the music. by no means are they perfect, but the amount that I can relate and get behind what they stand for makes going to their shows and spending my money well worth it.
Going back to the show, just prior to the end of the set and just prior to the encore, Kate took my mask and wore it on stage. Although it was incredibly awesome, I also felt really bad; I can only imagine how much I stunk it up or at the very least coated it in sweat. Sorry, Kate!!
Like I said, I got to meet Kate after the show, talked to her for a little while, and took a few photos. She is such a nice person and stayed after the show and talked to everyone that stayed late – not all artists do that.
Again, I ended up with a setlist, as well as a guitar pick (used by Kate!!), and a free hat for dressing like a crazy person. Ms. Nash was also kind enough to sign a CD and the setlist. Also pictured are the setlists and tickets from the other October shows.
Let’s just say that the next time Kate is in town I will be doing all within my power to go to the show.
- Kent – for the place to stay and for being an awesome host in Des Moines
- Jael – for going to the first two shows with me and having a fun time (even when I was crazy with Koo Koo fever)
- Koo Koo Kanga Roo – for amazing me with awesome music
- Frank Turner – for not only putting on great shows, but for finding super supporting artists like Koo Koo Kanga Roo
- Girl Gang band – they rock… hard.
- Kate Nash – for the best show in October (and of 2013 overall?) and for taking time to talk to your fans