Archive for July, 2009

Random Stuff from a Few Weeks Ago

July 21, 2009

Sweeney’s

On the Fourth of July, we decided we wanted to go out for dinner. Many of our attempts were foiled, because a lot of restaurants were closed. I wasn’t sure if this was normally the case or if a lot of them made that choice because of the economy, although a lot more people were staying in town this year. We drove around to a few different places before deciding on Sweeney’s in St. Paul. We weren’t settling at all because they always have good food and beverages. We ordered the fried pickles with ranch dressing, and we indulged in their 50 cent tacos, one of the best dining deals around. The tacos have a crisp shell and are filled with ground beef, lettuce, tomato, and cheese. They have a little bit of a kick to them (but not too much for a wimp like me), and they’re cheaper than Taco Bell, and you can get tasty adult beverages to accompany them. They have a wide selection of Three Olives vodka, which is a bonus.

No Doubt/Paramore/Bedouin Caravan

My friend Sarah won tickets to see No Doubt and Paramore on Sunday 7/5, and she was kind enough to invite me along.

Xcel Energy Center only had tickets on the club level and lower (including general admission on the floor), and it was only about 2/3 full.

We were surprised to see a third band on the bill, because I hadn’t seen them mentioned in any of the reviews until the day of the show. Bedouin Caravan was fine. You could tell they had been to Jamaica a few times and really loved Bob Marley.

Paramore had a ton of energy. They performed a solid set, although the pauses between songs seemed just a tiny bit too long. They had an extremely acrobatic bass player performing backflips, with their lead singer running back and forth onstage. They sounded really good and had a mature stage presence as if they’d been performing for a long time.

No Doubt was outstanding. I can’t believe Gwen Stefani has those kind of abs, especially after having two kids. (I have no such excuse.) The set was all white and very futuristic looking. The band was great, performing all their catchy hits and showing colorful videos on the giant screens. They sounded fantastic and the show was visually entertaining. It was a fun excuse to shake our collective groove things and the band seemed to be enjoying themselves too.

American Burger Bar

We met at American Burger Bar before the concert. I tried their version of the Juicy Lucy. It’s called the Klucy and is made of Kobe beef. Not only did it have cheese on the inside, but it was covered with cheese on the outside. It was delicious, but it had too much cheese– so rich I couldn’t finish it. I also had a delicious Surly Furious and sweet potato fries. Still my favorite place to go for dinner, drinks, or both before a concert at Xcel Energy Center.

Fountains of Wayne/Jon Auer

Tim and I took in a rare Fountains of Wayne acoustic show at Cedar Cultural Center.

There were several really young children in the audience, including a toddler about three rows ahead of us. Fortunately the kid was better behaved than the drunk guys at the last show I attended at the Cedar, but it’s a lot to expect of a kid that age to sit still for three hours. His mom ended up taking him outside halfway through both the opening and main sets.

Jon Auer from the Posies opened, and was very entertaining. He used up a lot of his set time with banter, but he was a good storyteller so I didn’t mind. He performed some new material which was quite good, and an amazing cover of Swingin’ Party. He also swore a lot, which made me wonder if the young ones picked up some new words to use at daycare.

Fountains of Wayne was excellent. I’m excited to see them in a more rocking venue in the future. They made everyone stand up for the last two songs before the encore, and the place definitely had more of a club feel. They delivered a solid list of songs, and everything worked acoustically because the melodies were so strong, even though I love the production on their albums. They performed a hilarious version of “Stacy’s Mom” with Chris playing guitar and singing lead, and Adam playing piano and echoing the lines Chris sang. I left the show with a tremendous amount of respect for them as performers and storytellers and songwriters. It’s amazing what a rich catalogue they have, and while love songs are wonderful, they go so much farther beyond that in their material.

Heavenly Soles, R.I.P.

July 12, 2009

I am sad to report that after 14 years of business, Heavenly Soles on Lake Street is closing. They were a victim of the economy and the construction on Lake Street that took months longer to complete than the city anticipated.

Their remaining merchandise is 50% off, so stop in while you can for shoes and gifts. They are located in the same building as Hair Police, so I would always stop there before haircuts to browse, and I would rarely walk out empty-handed. They had a great selection of footwear, but I was always drawn to the gift section. Previous purchases include my “What Would Bacon Do?” spinner, zombie finger puppets, and slang flash cards. I picked up some magnets and a lovely cocktail book on my most recent visit, and I’m sorrowful that it was my last.

At the 7/11 Where I Was Taught…

July 12, 2009

Green Day at Target Center

July 11, 2009

It had been almost four years since Green Day had played the Twin Cities, and I was giddy with anticipation.

We arrived at the arena a little after 7:00, anticipating that there would be a huge line for will call, but there wasn’t. There was a bit of a wait to get into the arena, but after about five minutes of shuffling through people, we made it in. After a quick stop for refreshments, we seated ourselves in section 129, row Z. We were the first section over from the stage on Mike’s side (schwoon) and we were in the very last row of the first level. We were a little relieved to have nobody behind us– it was nice to not be sandwiched between rows.

Before the show, people were sending text messages and photos to be displayed on the jumbotron. Pictures of pets were popular, and I sent a photo of my dogs. Soon, ten thousand people were looking at this:

Otis and Zoe

The music before the show varied from Sinatra’s “My Way” to Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” to “Don’t Stop ’til You Get Enough” but it was all good.

The Bravery came on first, and they were pleasant. I wasn’t bowled over by them, and I doubt I would go see them the next time they came to town, but they had some good songs. I was only familiar with “Time Won’t Let Me Go” and “An Honest Mistake” but the rest of their songs were catchy, including two songs they played from their upcoming album.

The Bravery set list (courtesy of GreenDayAuthority.com forums):

  • Unconditional
  • Swollen Summer
  • Believe
  • Hate Fuck
  • Red Hands and White Knuckles
  • Time Won’t Let Me Go
  • Every Word Is A Knife In My Ear
  • An Honest Mistake

The music between sets was more upbeat, including Cheap Trick’s “Surrender”. Then they played The Ramones’ “Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio” at a higher volume than the other songs, and we knew it was time for the real fun to begin.

The crowd was fantastic. People were attentive during the opening act, and once the main show started, everyone was on their feet singing at the top of their lungs, pumping their fists into the air. The two women beside me were really into it, and we all proceeded to rock our collective asses off.

Set list (courtesy of Star Tribune’s Pop Life Blog and GreenDayAuthority.com forums — the forums are an amazing source of information):

1. Song of the Century – I liked the way this began the main set and American Eulogy ended it, like bookends.

2. 21st century Breakdown – Oh, thank you god for answering my prayers, Mike is sleeveless. I mean, I knew there was a pretty good chance, but still…

3. Know Your Enemy

4. East Jesus Nowhere – Billie Joe called a 12-year-old boy onstage and “healed” him during this song. Then he set the kid loose with a Super Soaker on the crowd. I think this is also the part where I finally noticed Tre had bleached his hair, because I was so fixated on Mike’s biceps. I liked that they opened with three songs from the new album, like they did on the American Idiot tour.

5. Holiday

6. Static Age – This is my current favorite song on the album, and to see it live was amazing.

7. Before the Lobotomy

8. Are We the Waiting

9. St. Jimmy

10. Boulevard of Broken Dreams – I had initially seen this as part of the encore, but it fits really well here as part of the main set.

11. Hitchin’ a Ride – One, two, one, two, three, four!

12. Crazy Train (Ozzy Osbourne cover, intro only) – The band was goofing around and teasing the crowd with several introductions to songs.

13. Iron Man (Black Sabbath cover, intro only)

14. Master Of Puppets (Metallica cover, intro only)

15.Let’s Go Crazy (Prince cover) – Then they launched into this song for real, and played the entire song except for the guitar solo at the end. I was impressed with Billie Joe’s guitar work in the middle, though.

16.  Brain Stew

17. Jaded

18. Longview – They called three different people from the audience to sing this song. The first two were girls, and the second girl repeated the first verse. Then they called a guy up who completed the song and did a stage dive (with encouragement from the band) at the end.

19. Basket Case

20. She

21. King for a Day (including Shout/If My Friends Could See Me Now/Swannee/I’ll Be There/Stand By Me) – The band went into several different snippets of songs in the middle, which was fun. They all put on silly hats, and Jason Freese (playing sax) was dressed up like Michael Jackson and attempted to moo. Some people might say it’s too soon for that, but it was all in good fun and he was already present in other ways, when they played one of his songs before the show and when they put a bit of “I’ll Be There” in the medley.

22. 21 Guns – Lots of pyro during this one, including a sheet of sparklers falling from the ceiling above the stage.

23. American Eulogy

ENCORE

24. American Idiot

25. Jesus of Suburbia – They called a girl up to play guitar through the “Dearly Beloved” part. Although I’m glad she got to get up on stage with the band (and did a good job), this was the only part of the show that dragged, because they took a really long time to find someone who knew the song. From what I’ve seen, they normally have another person take over halfway through, too.

26. Minority

27. Minnesota Girl – This is an unreleased song Billie Joe wrote about his wife. He played it the last time he was here, too. We’re just lucky that way.

28. Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)

The banter contained tons of local references:

  • Billie Joe pointed to a fan who had been holding up an Oakland A’s hat and said, “Fuck the A’s! Twins baby! They kicked the White Sox’s asses the other night!”
  • Before one of the songs, Billie Joe came out dressed as a policeman and announced, “This is the Minneapolis police, the party is over” in a bit referring to the beginning of the album “Stink” by The Replacements.
  • Before singing “Know Your Enemy,” he remarked, “The day we recorded this song was the first day of the Republican Convention. The Republican Convention was here, right? We got those motherfuckers out of fucking office, right?” {The show wasn’t as cathartic as the previous show, when we were still under the Bush administration, and the whole Katrina debacle had just happened. It was still politically charged, and energetic, and I was still fully participating, just in a different way.)
  • After a reference to doobies (and perhaps after mooning the audience for the first time), he said, “My father in law isn’t here so I can say what ever I want!”
  • He also mentioned that he’s here a lot (his wife’s family still resides here), and he was in town on New Year’s Eve. (Seriously, if I ever ran into him at SuperAmerica or something, it would be the most awkward moment in my life. I would have no idea what to say and I’d be so completely awestruck that I’d probably pass out.)

Weird social commentary:

  • I loved the look of the people who were all called up on stage. None of them were posing and all of them had their hearts into it. Some bands would choose the thin, pretty, supermodel types, but the audience was really normal. Not to say that the people were hideous by any means, but everyone’s looks were attainable, and that felt refreshing. I just see so much airbrushed, contrived crap that on some level I start to believe that’s how I should be.
  • I loved the inter-generational feel of the show. I’m sure the band offended some people with swearing and masturbation references, but for the most part I think parents knew what they were getting into when they brought their kids along. Most of the kids were born after Dookie, so it was cool to see the band have a second revival with a new generation of fans. A lot of the text messages on the jumbotron before the show were from kids to parents (“thanks for bringing me to my first concert”) and vice versa (“enjoy your first show”). And how cool to have Green Day as your first live show?! They’d have some pretty high standards after that.
  • Did you know that we have two new saunas in the Twin Cities? The first is the Cedar Cultural Center, and the second is Target Center. Especially when the show involves lots of pyro, as it did at the latter venue. Not that it interrupted the fun, of course.

Links to other reviews:

Hell’s Kitchen Happy Hour

July 12, 2009

My friend Dave and I were looking for something off the beaten path before a show at Target Center. We decided Hell’s Kitchen was the way to go (and the band we were seeing also has a black and red design theme). Also, they’re one of the few places who have a happy hour 7 days a week. I had been there for brunch many times, but this was my first dinner/happy hour experience.

The bar wasn’t open until 5:30, so we opted to sit in the main restaurant area. There was no wait, but the restaurant was doing a decent business and was about 3/4 full.

To start, we ordered the sweet potato fries with chipotle mayo sauce ($3). They were lightly salted, and the dipping sauce was delicious. I only wish there had been a little more of it, because we exhausted the supply. The fries were delightful on their own, though.

We each had a mini turkey & brie on baguette with chips ($5). I didn’t have the chips (they looked like standard tortilla chips and didn’t come with any dipping sauce, although I’m sure salsa was available for an extra charge). But the sandwich was divine, and a little larger than I expected, so it was very filling.

We had a little more room in our stomachs, so we ordered the garlic-teriyaki wings with bleu cheese dressing and celery ($4) to ensure we wouldn’t be starving during the show. I could only eat two wings, but they were just the right amount of saucy and crispy on the outside, and juicy on the inside.

I should have written down the beverages we ordered, along with the ingredients, because they don’t have that information posted online. Here’s the best I can do from memory:

We each ordered a Tequila Mockingbird (tequila, sour, and grenadine). It was beautifully presented, with the grenadine on the bottom. I didn’t do the greatest job of mixing mine up, so sometimes I’d get a mouthful of tequila, and at other times I’d get a taste of grenadine. I like tequila, so I’m not complaining…

We then split two drinks. The first was called a something Fosse, and it was a martini with ginger-infused vodka and basil, with a giant basil leaf floating in the middle. It had a complex and refreshing flavor, with a little pepper kick at the end. For dessert, we had a peanut butter martini, which looked like chocolate milk with chopped nuts inside and chocolate on the rim of the martini glass. A very tasty way to end the meal.

The whole meal cost about $43, not including tip, so it was a steal for fine food and drinks in downtown Minneapolis.