Dinosaur in Trouble: proudly serving Twin Cities music geeks

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

I Felt the Illinoise

Sufjan Stevens

I know, I know. You can’t pick up a zine nowadays without reading about Sufjan Stevens, and you can’t walk into a coffee shop without hearing Illinois. The last thing you want right now is to see Sufjan make an appearance on Dinosaur in Trouble. Sorry, I’ll make it quick then. [By the way, you’d think that with all the talk, people would’ve at least learned how to pronounce his name by now – it’s Soof-yahn (sorry Chris, it most definitely is not Surf-John).]

Sunday’s show (9-18-2005) at First Avenue was actually really, really good (I can’t make up my mind if I’m surprised by that fact). Liz Janes (who also plays in Sufjan’s band) opened the show. Her quiet, folky arrangements and powerful voice would have perfectly set the mood…if she was opening for Cat Power. The subtle beauty of her music, however, did nothing to prepare us for the circus that was to come next.

By 9:45, the stage was crowded with eight musicians dressed as University of Illinois cheerleaders (sans the racist Chief Illiniwek). The band stayed in character throughout Sufjan’s entire set – every other song was introduced with a clever cheer complete with pompoms and choreographed hand gestures (the band was even successful at topping off a human pyramid at one point).

I thoroughly enjoyed the gimmicks, but the show would have been just as strong without them. Sufjan’s brilliant compositions were competently interpreted by the band, and the diverse selection of songs ensured that there was never a dull moment. Sufjan Stevens finally won my heart.

There, I’m done writing about Sufjan. But I’m warning you…if you’re sick of all the hype now, just wait until the year-end lists!

The Illinoise Makers


Blogger Shawna said...

I'm sorry I missed Sufjan Stevens. I noticed the City Pages wrote about the STNNNG and I remembered you wrote about them before. Way to be in touch with the music here.
ummmmmm would you and Chris and anyone else want to go to the 7th street entry Oct.1? Call me.

12:09 AM


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Sunday, September 18, 2005

The Lazers Have It Forever


It’s no secret that we here at Dinosaur in Trouble gots mad cred. Seriously, our opinions are highly regarded and virtually indisputable. But we’re not naïve; we realize that somewhere in this world there might exist a hater or two. Well, here’s our message to all the haters out there: if you’ve never believed a thing we’ve said, and if you think we’ll never say anything of worth…fine. But before you pass us off completely, we ask you to trust our judgment on just this one thing: the best music being made in the Twin Cities right now is coming from two brand-new, closely related bands – lazer.forever and The Haves Have It. If that’s the only counsel from Dinosaur in Trouble that you ever take to heart, you’ll get along in life just fine.

You know what’s awesome? Lazer.forever and The Haves Have It just played a show together last Thursday at the Triple Rock opening for Clair de Lune. I dare you to find a more solid lineup than that!

Lazer.forever wowed us with their pretty harmonies, dancy guitars, and violent drumming. Their set was so exciting that I was finding it hard to keep my pants on. Thankfully, I kept myself in check. (However, in an effort to stalk the boys from lazer.forever, I followed them to a party last night. At the party, they dropped jaws by delivering an even more impressive performance. My pants were just about to come off when the police shut the party down. Oh well, maybe next time.)

...and ever and ever

Dustin of lazer.forever (doubles as the drummer for The Haves Have It!)

Clint and Adam of lazer.forever

And then the band of the year: The Haves Have It. You have to see them to believe them. Incredible! This show marked a new high for them (which, if you’ve seen any of their other shows, is ridiculously high). I don’t think I’ve ever pounded my fist in the air with that intensity. Hell yeah!

The Haves Have It

Portia of The Haves Have It

Jenn of The Haves Have It

I was fully energized and ready to jam out to Clair de Lune, but then I remembered that I needed to wake up at 5:00 the next morning. So I stuck around for two of their songs – which sounded great – and then headed home. When I reluctantly woke up the next morning, I wondered why several buttons were missing from my pants.

The Haves Have It @ The Triple Rock: August 12, 2005
The Haves Have It @ The 7th Street Entry: July 9, 2005
The Haves Have It and lazer.forever @ house party: May 21, 2005


Anonymous Anonymous said...


As you may or may not have heard, I'm moving back to Minneapolis. Perhaps we could attend something together, for fun.


11:12 PM


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Funk at the Fred


The great thing about living blocks away from one of the largest college campuses in the country is that I can easily take advantage of all the free events without actually having to be a student (and no one will ever know). One free event that I never miss is the annual welcome-back-to-school concert inside the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum called Funk at the Fred. This year’s show (9-9-2005) didn’t divert from Funk at the Fred’s tradition of a solid lineup topped off by a high-profile local headliner.

For reasons inexcusable, I missed the opening act, TomHanks. Fortunately, I was able to drown out my guilt with the free pretzels and pop offered by the University. I’m sure it would’ve been an interesting set, though. TomHanks is the electroclash solo project from Grant Cutler, the uber-distinct vocalist from the “sexy rock and roll” band, Passions. Not something I’d normally want to miss.

Lucky for me, the dance party wasn’t yet over. After months of intention, I finally got to see smooth IDMers, Digitata. The trio includes knob-twiddler Ryan Olson, and drummer Andy Christopherson (both of Mel Gibson and the Pants). But singer/keyboardist Maggie Morrison makes the band. Her shiver-inducing vocals translated very well into the live setting, and made for a very gratifying show.

Faux Jean was the headliner. I was looking forward to their set because I hadn’t seen them since they reformed with the blonde girl. Well, shortly after Digitata’s set, the power of the entire block went out, effectively ending the show. What a bummer. I made up for the loss by getting my picture taken with local celebrity, Todd Trainer (that fashionable guy from Shellac, Rifle Sport, and Brick Layer Cake). He’s a celebrity, right? Or am I just living in my own little world?

Lee and Todd Trainer

Passions @ The 7th Street Entry: February 12, 2005
Rifle Sport and Brick Layer Cake @ The 7th Street Entry: February 26, 2005
Shellac @ First Avenue: April 13, 2005


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Saturday, September 17, 2005

The Vets, Valina, and Cell Phones

The Vets as seen through my cell phone

The Of Montreal show had finished, but the night was still young, so I decided to hang around the Triple Rock for the late show. I was due for another show by The Vets, but the thing that really sold me was that math rockers Valina flew all the way from their homeland of Austria to kick off their US tour in the Twin Cities.

The Vets rocked as usual. The things people are doing with their guitars nowadays…wowee. Andy Larson (who also plays in a band called hand) and Adam Burt (who also plays in a band called, umm…STNNNG) are on their way to becoming official guitar gods (but in the good Thurston Moore way, not the *yawn* Eddie Van Halen way). I like ‘em.

Valina as seen through my cell phone

Valina’s set was enthralling. Yeah, they’re a guitar band too, but their drummer was definitely the center of attention. Yikes, he was loud (but in a good way, not the *yawn* Alex Van Halen way). Almost as entertaining were the German lessons offered by the singer (when he was translating what the bass player was saying to their Austrian sound guy).

Sicbay was the headliner, but I couldn’t stay. It had been a long day, and I needed to wake up really early the next morning. I know, I’m becoming a party pooper.

By the way, I rebounded from forgetting my camera by using the camera in my cell phone. Just as good, right?

Sicbay @ The Triple Rock: July 21, 2005


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Of Minneapolis

Kevin Barnes and Bryan Poole (photo taken by my roommate, Elyssa)

Last time I saw Of Montreal, I promised myself that I’d bring my camera the next time they came to town. Considering that they are one of my favorite bands and they come through the Twin Cities quite frequently, it’s ridiculous that I don’t have any good pictures of them. Guess what. Yep, I was so excited about their show at the Triple Rock on September 3rd that I forgot to bring my camera. Way to go.

Anyway, I think that Of Montreal has developed a strategy of getting people to believe that they are a serious band by having even sillier bands open for them. Of Montreal seemed as serious/mature as, say, Fugazi when compared to openers MGMT. MGMT’s corny electro-trash-pop songs were complimented with insincere rock star posturing and superfluous instruments. Thankfully, the rest of the Triple Rock had a sense of humor – the audience even played along and chanted M-G-M-T to the beat of their last song.

After MGMT, DJ Jester the Filipino Fist treated us to some mash-up turntablism until he was joined by the MCs from Grand Buffet. Grand Buffet (who describe themselves as “the Kermit and Fozzy of underground Hip Hop”) were hilarious. It would have been worth the price of admission just to hear their between-song banter. I wish I had a transcript of everything they said. The only thing I can sorta remember was that they claimed to be sponsored by an environmentally friendly popcorn brand where one kernel could take the place of an entire meal. They then handed the bag of popcorn they were eating into the audience and asked everyone to take one kernel each. I passed.

Finally, Of Montreal. What more can I say about Of Montreal that I haven’t said before? They have proven to be one of the most creative indie pop bands of this decade (not to mention last decade). And their shows are extremely amusing. Kevin Barnes’ shirt was off by the second song, and it was only up hill from there. They even paid tribute to local heroes, Morris Day and The Time, by having a band member present Kevin Barnes with a mirror mid-song. So cool. With the exception of a few new songs, the entirety of their set consisted of songs from Satanic Panic in the Attic and The Sunlandic Twins, which was completely fine (even for an old fan like me). Did I mention that I love Of Montreal? That’s right, I’m not at all afraid to admit it.

Of Montreal @ The Triple Rock: April 30, 2005


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Maudlin Returns!

Maudlin rocks the Terminal Bar

One of the negative aspects of me getting a real job at the end of last month was that I couldn’t keep up with the demands of Dinosaur in Trouble (I also couldn’t go to shows as often). My weekly mp3 feature, Dino Porno, was hit the hardest. Three weeks have now passed since the last Dino Porno. But don’t worry; it’ll be back – it’s just resting until I can get my shit together. Fortunately, the last band featured in Dino Porno was Maudlin, and their song “Dancecaster” should be enough to hold you over until the next Dino Porno.

Speaking of Maudlin, shortly after they appeared in Dino Porno, I had the privilege of experiencing their long-awaited return to the Twin Cities live circuit (August 26th at the Terminal Bar). What a solid performance! David and Priscilla’s apt vocal interplay and impeccably crafted pop songs energized the Terminal. I was on the verge of singing and dancing along (especially during their updated rendition of “Dancecaster”), but I didn’t have the guts to draw attention to myself in front of the 15 other people in the bar. I’m positive that the other people in the audience were feeling the same urge. So perhaps I’ll be brave next time and start dancing. I’m sure everyone else will be quick to join in.

I desperately needed to find an outlet for the energy injected into me by Maudlin, so I decided to head over to a party I heard about earlier in the week. When I arrived at the party, I learned that another one of my favorite local bands, The Haves Have It, had just finished rocking the house with an impromptu set. I didn’t think I’d ever miss a Haves Have It show, but I guess even Dinosaur in Trouble can’t be on top of everything. I’m not complaining; I got to see Maudlin, that’s more than enough excitement for the night.

Maudlin @ Dino Porno #2: “Dancecaster”
The Haves Have It @ The Triple Rock: August 12, 2005
The Haves Have It @ The 7th Street Entry: July 9, 2005
The Haves Have It @ house party: May 21, 2005


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Smog Ain't Too Much to Love

Jim White, Bill Callahan, and Colleen Burke of Smog

Bill Callahan’s Smog has been a vital force in the world of lo-fi indie rock for the past 15 years. So it’s a damn shame that I waited so long to write about Smog’s August 23rd show at the 400 Bar. A show of that caliber deserves a detailed review in Dinosaur in Trouble. Alas, it’s too late now. You’re all gonna have to settle for a brief description so I can move on to writing brief descriptions of the other five shows I’ve neglected.

Mason Jennings’ little brother, Matt Jennings, opened the show. I wish I could say his performance was spectacular, but it was just a guy with an acoustic guitar who sounded like Mason Jennings – something that can be found at any college dorm party. Perhaps I’m being unfair. Apparently, Matt taught Mason how to play guitar. So maybe it’s Mason who sounds like Matt.

Smog; now there’s a different story. Spectacular for sure (trust me, beautifully executed subtlety can be referred to as spectacular). Live, the mostly acoustic songs of Smog’s excellent new album, A River Ain’t Too Much to Love, were beefed up with a full backing band. Jason Dezember provided some color on his electric guitar while We Ragazzi’s Colleen Burke held the low end. But Bill Callahan’s undisputed costar for the night was the one and only Jim White (the drummer from Australia’s Dirty Three). Jim’s drumming style is so loose that I’d describe him as a rag doll, if I didn’t already decide to describe him as the long-lost third Super Mario Brother. I felt the urge to close my eyes and get lost in the music, but that would mean that I’d miss out on Jim White’s ultra unique showmanship. My eyes remained wide open.


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Thursday, September 08, 2005


Honestly, I’m not lazy. I’ve just been extremely busy. Extremely busy. As a result, Dinosaur in Trouble has been feeling a bit neglected. I sincerely apologize.

Two Wednesdays have passed since the last Dino Porno, and I haven’t gotten around to writing about a handful of excellent shows (including Smog, Maudlin, Of Montreal, and The Vets). Hopefully within the coming weeks, I’ll be able to get my life in order, and Dinosaur in Trouble will thrive once again.

Until then, check out Minneapolis’s top-ten entry in Schools That Rock: The Rolling Stone College Guide. Now, I won’t give my opinion of Rolling Stone. And I won’t spend any time debating the quality of the research [why is there a picture of an Englishman and a mention of Motion City Soundtrack – a band from the Twin Cities – in the entry for St. Louis?]. But I will say that I’m satisfied that my favorite indie rock towns made the top ten (Minneapolis, Austin, Chapel Hill, Athens, Portland, and Seattle).

Be aware, however, that the synopsis of the Minneapolis scene is a little outdated. Let It Be Records closed its doors in June. And even though they mentioned my two favorite radio stations (Radio K and KFAI), they neglected to mention everyone else’s favorite public radio station (The Current).

What am I doing? I need to get back to work.


Blogger Shawna said...

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Blogger lil' ticket said...

Shawna, that is the funniest fucking thing I've ever seen.

I love you!

10:05 PM


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Monday, September 05, 2005

Happy Trails, Malachi Constant

Malachi Constant

The commute from Uptown to Midway was a quick one (thanks to the little devil on my shoulder). Despite the excessive St. Paul smoke, I felt a lot more comfortable in the Turf Club. I was back among familiar faces, and miles away from the frat party.

The show was actually a big deal. Malachi Constant’s drummer, Alex McCown, was leaving them behind to attend grad school in New York. Thus, Friday’s show (8-19-2005) was to be Malachi’s last for a long while. Needless to say, Malachi Constant had a strong cast of opening acts supporting them for this significant event. Even Model DownModern Radio’s newest addition – drove all the way from Boston to play. I didn’t arrive, however, until The Chris Danforths were on their very last song. And what a great last song it was!

Fortunately, I caught the entirety of Superhopper’s set. Contrary to what Superhopper would have you believe, the Midwest is “new and fresh,” as evidenced by this showcase of St. Paul’s finest. Even though I’ve seen Superhopper, like, a million times, their utra-hyperactive keyboardist, Alan Smithee, never ceases to amuse me. I figured that after the time in the Entry when I saw him slice his foot open he’d at least put some shoes on. Nope. I guess remaining barefoot helps him stay nimble.

In response to my last post, there is a correct way to do pop punk. The City PagesPeter S. Scholtes summed it up perfectly in his review of Superhopper’s latest album, Does This Sound Exciting Yet?:

Maybe you have to loathe snotty pop punk as a genre, which I do, to really appreciate the exhilarating exceptions. Like fellow Minnesotans the Soviettes, Superhopper know their way around a bridge and take extra care to make their hooks sound like no one else's (not to mention write them in the first place).



Malachi Constant: probably the only math-rock inspired band that you can dance to. Hopefully their hiatus won’t be too drawn-out. Thankfully, I can rest assured knowing that they won’t disappear completely. They can’t – their new album is almost ready for release. In fact, a lot of the songs they played on Friday were from their new album. But their set was also packed with the classics. During perhaps their most recognizable classic, “Risks,” Carl Wedoff (singer/guitarer) was confronted onstage by an angry audience member (earlier in the set, Carl playfully threw an empty plastic cup – the flimsy kind that are given out at keg parties – into the audience. Apparently the cup hit the angry man on the head). The band extended the intro for a few minutes while Carl consoled the whiny man. When Carl was able to hop back into the song, we were all reminded why Malachi Constant will be sorely missed.

For their last song, Malachi Constant was joined by Andy Larson of The Vets on guitar. Andy was soon followed by a swarm of audience members who brought the dance party onto the stage. Afterwards, an encore seemed very appropriate, but since Alex had thoroughly destroyed his drum set, the cries for more songs were in vain.

Left to right: Ben, Andy (The Vets), Alex, Sean, Carl


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Blogger Lee said...

In the true spirit of punk rock, Dinosaur in Trouble believes that the health of our culture is inversely proportionate to the level of capitalistic involvement. Therefore, in our ongoing efforts to support the indie culture of the Twin Cities, Dinosaur in Trouble will no longer serve as a platform for impertinent advertising.

In other words, I’m turning on word verification to prevent future attacks by comment spammers.

4:25 PM


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