Top 12 Concerts of 2012
2012 was another fantastic year for the always amazing Minneapolis music scene. This year I photographed 25 concerts and saw a handful more without my camera. I am forever grateful to be living and working in such a wonderful city. Here is a list of my top 12 concerts from 2012. Cheers to 2013!
- Japandroids at The Entry, July 3 – With the release of Celebration Rock in 2012, the Vancouver, BC duo Japandroids catapulted from an indie-rock buzz-band, to a legitimate must-see band. Their performances are known to be energetic, and on this incredibly hot and sweaty night at the 250 capacity Entry, the band raised the roof with the most powerful rock show I attended in 2012. Everything seemed to come together perfectly. This was much better than when I saw them in December at Triple Rock Social Club. That show was good, but this show at The Entry in July was absolutely incredible.
- Matt & Kim at First Avenue, November 7 – Who doesn’t love a good booty shaking ultra-pop rock show? I was fortunate to see Matt & Kim twice this year, and while their performance at Somerset Festival was certainly enjoyable, this show at First Avenue took the cake. After this show it took days to wipe the grin from my face. Keyboards, simple drums, booties, wooooo! Even though it was all ages, the crowd at First Avenue raged and danced along all night. It was so much fun!
- Metric at State Theatre, September 11 – The Toronto, Canada electro-rock band Metric is no stranger to Minneapolis. Singer Emily Haines recounted some of the band’s past experiences in the Twin Cities in a few brief pauses between an extremely upbeat and fantastic set at the beautiful State Theatre in downtown Minneapolis. This show was wonderful, and made me a big fan of Metric, and I feel very fortunate to have photographed it. Opening band Half Moon Run was very good as well. Check out their debut album Dark Eyes.
- Social Distortion at First Avenue, April 27 – Social Distortion kicks ass, plain and simple. The punk-rockers from California have been lighting up clubs since the late 70s, and I was extremely grateful who have been given a pair of tickets to the added second show at First Avenue after the first night sold out quickly. A majority of the capacity crowd was in their 40s, but that didn’t stop anyone from rocking out with little regard. The pit of First Avenue had fists and beers raised all night. This show was absolutely awesome, I am very glad to have finally seen Social D. 90s rock band The Toadies opened the show and brought back memories as well.
- Silversun Pickups at State Theatre, September 20 – Going into this show, I wrote off Silversun Pickups as a band that was never going to do much for me. After this show, I was blown away and very happy I was there photographing it. This band from Los Angeles puts on a tight, high-energy rock show. The back lighting was also fantastic, giving me the opportunity to capture some unique shots. School of Seven Bells opened with a great set, and set the tone for a wonderful night of music. A highlight of this evening was seeing the young family to my left with two kids having so much fun.
- Of Monsters and Men at Fine Line Music Café, March 29 – Icelandic band Of Monsters and Men took the US by storm in 2012 with the release of their debut, My Head Is An Animal. I was extremely fortunate to have seen them at the small and intimate Fine Line Music Café back in late March. This show was well sold out, and even though the debut record was a week from being released, somehow, a majority of the crowd knew every word and sang along all night. The band was very appreciative and blown away by the warm response. Of Monsters and Men is awesome, and I hope they keep making music.
- The Hold Steady at First Avenue, November 24 – Seeing The Hold Steady at First Avenue is a rock-n-roll ritual that every music fan would be lucky to witness at least once in their lives. I have seen The Hold Steady at First Avenue several times now, and this show just two days after Thanksgiving I was very thankful for. The Hold Steady does not change their shows up much, so it’s the energy they bring on any given night that is the deciding factor on whether the show is a hit or a flop. This show at First Avenue was a hit. It was a home-friggin-run, and way better than their headlining set at Rock the Garden in June. For that show, the band sounded off, and perhaps even a little nervous. This First Avenue show was the opposite. The band was spot on and the crowd raged all night. What a great show, and what a great celebration of Minneapolis.
- My Morning Jacket at Somerset Amphitheater, August 10 – What a fantastic night this turned out to be. My Morning Jacket headlined this show with the great Band of Horses, and local Minnesota heroes Trampled by Turtles opening. After a very hot stretch of summer, this night started off sunny and cooled down beautifully as the sun dropped. My Morning Jacket has long been a favorite of mine, and they did not disappoint on this night. Between songs in their two-hour set, singer Jim James stated several times about how beautiful of night is was. Hardwood smoke blew in from the nearby campgrounds, and the stars were out in full. It was a fantastic, and at times very psychedelic performance. I really hope My Morning Jacket plays this venue again, as this show was well worth the money, especially considering the powerhouse lineup.
- The Smashing Pumpkins at Roy Wilkins Auditorium, October 20 – Like many, I was a huge Smashing Pumpkins fan in the 1990s. And even though Billy Corgan is the only remaining member of that original band, I still can’t help but feel a nostalgic appreciation for The Smashing Pumpkins of 2012. This 2.5 hour show at Roy Wilkins Auditorium started off slow but built to a climactic ending that left most attendees with a smile. The venue was maybe two-thirds full, but that didn’t stop Billy Corgan from unleashing a fine performance which started out with the band playing the new album, Oceania, in its entirety. By the end, the band cranked out some of its older hits, and the crowd livened up—pushing me near the front of the stage where I was able to get an abundance of great shots. Although the Pumpkins aren’t the same, Billy Corgan still deserves praise in my book.
- Trampled by Turtles at Rock the Garden, June 16 – Trampled by Turtles is a true Minnesota gem, and it is great to see that they are making such a big name for themselves nationally. 2012 was a big year for the band. After releasing their sixth (and best) album Stars and Satellites in April, the five-piece from Duluth went on to make their network television debut on Late Show with David Letterman. Their hour long set in the late afternoon at Rock the Garden was a burner. The band tore through an amazing set, mainly of new tunes and their road experience was evident as fiddle player Ryan Young improvised off of the other players, grinding away like I’ve not seen him play before. Their Stars and Satellites cd release show at First Avenue in April was also great. But in front of 10,000 attendees at Rock the Garden, the band was explosive and even better.
- Umphrey’s McGee at First Avenue on February 2 – Over the last eight years or so, Umphrey’s McGee has been my favorite band. Since 2006 I have not missed an Umphrey’s show at First Avenue. In 2012, their multi-night run at the best rock club in the Midwest was solid, far trumping the two shows from 2011. The second set of night one was a rager that started with a Pink Floyd medley of “In the Flesh” > “Another Brick In the Wall”. After that the band absolutely killed it. An extended version of their rock song “Red Tape” on this night was spectacular. The first set of the second night was also remarkable. I am very excited for their show at First Avenue on February 7, 2013. I am also a bit disappointed that they are only playing one night after seven years of multi-night runs at First Avenue.
- Bloc Party at First Avenue, September 22 – The British dance-rock band, Bloc Party put on a fun and very upbeat show at First Avenue back in September. This was my first Bloc Party show, and it will not be my last. Lead singer and guitarist Kele Okereke commanded the stage with a smile, and it seemed every person in the crowd sang along to every song. Bloc Party made a new fan with me on this night.
Other notables of 2012
- Jane’s Addiction at The Brick, March 19 – Jane’s Addiction in a small club is normally is a recipe for an amazing concert. Too bad the new AEG Live venue The Brick was so bad that a large part of the crowd couldn’t see, and singer Perry Farrell threatened to incite a riot if security didn’t calm down. This show ignited so much backlash that the owners ultimately offered a refund, shut the doors to remodel, and later completely renamed the venue to Mill City Nights. Nice try AEG, but this venue isn’t a good club for live music.
- Father John Misty at The Entry, May 11 – On tour to support Fear Fun, one of my favorite records of 2012, former Fleet Foxes drummer Josh Tillman (aka Father John Misty) played a fun show to a capacity crowd at The Entry. His set started off tight and ended a little drunkenly, but regardless, it was a great night of music. Minneapolis’ own Har Mar Superstar opened with an outrageously entertaining set (and of course strip tease) that set the tone. Father John Misty returned to Minneapolis two more times in 2012, but I’m glad to have caught him at The Entry which he has already outgrown.
- Marilyn Manson at The Myth, May 18 – I’m not gonna lie, there was a time when I liked Marilyn Manson’s music a lot. This was especially true of their first three albums, so when they returned to the Twin Cities in 2012 I was happy to go and reminisce. In May, the band returned to The Myth in St. Paul for a high energy metal show in support of their 2012 album Born Villain. I was disappointed that photo passes were not approved for this tour, but you can read my full review for Twin Cities Daily Planet by clicking the link above.
- Quilt at 400 Bar, July 9 – Quilt is a young rock band from Boston, MA with a vintage psychedelic sound that reminds me a lot of Beachwood Sparks. Seeing them play at the now closing 400 Bar was great, as they put on a nice and intimate show to the small crowd in attendance. Check this band out.
- Ben Folds Five at Orpheum Theatre, September 29– A Ben Folds Five show is just good clean fun. After avoiding Minneapolis for the last 13 years, I was very happy that the band got back together and finally made it to town again. This show was spot on, and very entertaining. The Australian opener Kate Miller-Heidke was also fantastic, especially her cover of Eminem’s “The Real Slim Shady”.