Top 10 Twin Cities Shows of 2011

posted by MP Johnson

This was a weird year. Some of the shows I expected to be the best fell short. While it’s lame to blame the crowd, because it’s partly the band’s responsibility to draw a crowd, the reality is that bands feed off the crowd’s energy and vice versa. If there’s hardly anybody at a Sick Of It All or Agnostic Front show, and those who are there sit in the back drinking beer, it just doesn’t work like it’s supposed to. Thankfully, there were a lot of good shows to pick up the slack.

My list of the best shows of 2011 in Minneapolis and St. Paul, in chronological order:

Culo, Brain Tumors, Getting Even – Rathole – 2/11

This reminded me just how awesome basement shows can be. Brain Tumors and Getting Even (RIP) took their places among the best hardcore bands in the twin cities. Smashing a bottle on the ground in lieu of an introduction, Culo blew through a microscopic and mighty hardcore set that sent heads spinning.

Robyn, Diamond Rings, Natalia Kills – First Avenue – 2/13

Somehow, Robyn‘s music seems like it has always been a part of my life, even though I just started listening to it. This was the first of three triumphant Diamond Rings sets in the Twin Cities, each of which was awesome. I missed most of Natalia Kills, but her CD is one of my favorite pop albums of the year.

Off!, Trash Talk, Much Worse – Triple Rock – 4/3

I loved the contrast between the old schoolers in Off! and the new schoolers in Trash Talk.

Agenda, Formaldehyde Junkies, Pink Reason, Condominium, Manipulation, Culo – Rathole – 4/22

More people showed up to this show in a tiny basement than a lot of club shows I’ve seen, and for good reason. Every band on the lineup was perfect. Personally, I loved all the hardcore kids who fled when Pink Reason started. Slow and scary wins the race. And clears the room.

Night Birds, Much Worse – House o’ Lard – 6/11

Another packed and insane basement show. Night Birds combine horror and hardcore in a way nobody else has.

Go-Go’s – Minnesota Zoo – 6/14

After hours of pouring rain and delays, the show finally started and the sun came up, not literally, but metaphorically. I ran to the front and stood within five feet of Belinda Carlisle and the band as they played songs I’ve loved for a looong time.

Bob Mould – Dakota Jazz Club – 6/15

I’ve seen Bob Mould play songs like “Wishing Well” many times. This show was different. Listening to him read from his autobiography and tell the stories that lead to the creation of these songs gave them a huge emotional punch, beyond that which he usually delivers.

Rihanna, Cee Lo Green – Target Center – 6/16

Capping off a great run of shows, I high-fived Rihanna.

Evergrey, Sabaton, Powerglove, Blackguard – Station 4 – 9/27

Sabaton is everything a good power metal band should be. The band played to a half-full Station 4 as if they were playing to a packed arena. They so fully blew my mind that I had to leave early, knowing that Evergrey could not possibly follow them. Sabaton’s return to Station 4 in the spring is my most anticipated show of next year, so far.

Skeletonwitch, Quincy Punx, In Defence – Triple Rock – 12/15

Skeletonwitch had a day off from their tour. So they called the Triple Rock and asked what was going on, drove hours out of their way and played this show, without raising the door beyond the announced $5. In Defence demonstrated exactly why they’re the best hardcore band around and the Quincy Punx sang songs about beer and zombies. Waaaaay more than $5 worth of fun was had.

Monday, December 26th, 2011 at 2:26 pm