Friday, August 13, 2010

An A&R's Minneapolis Dream: "Last Kiss, Mpls."

In lieu of a regular post today, I felt the need to highlight the convention of the best Minneapolis unsigned artists held last night that was "Last Kiss, Mpls."  As a writer and musician, it is even hard for me to describe the breadth of talent that was compressed into one room for what some would call an emotional farewell show to successful Minneapolis local artist, Ari Herstand, as he ships off to Los Angeles.

Its funny, because I would argue that the Minneapolis music scene has been the industry's best kept secret for as long as I can remember.  As a young musician, I used to follow my favorite Minneapolis artists thinking to myself:  "How is this artist not known on a larger scale?"  "Isn't it easy to make it big?"  Sadly, I had no idea at the time what being a musician really meant.  The journey, the sacrifices, the indescribable hard work, and not to mention raw and developed talent.  To this end, the Minneapolis music scene has become an elite group of individuals who have put in years and an immeasurable amount of heart into developing themselves daily in order to make a career out of something that they love.  This type of determination is sometimes so rare that this group of artists can sometimes all fit on one stage, and last night, they did.

Looking around the room at the collected musicians:  some had already been there and back, some were still on their way or just starting, some starting new projects, some had moved on from music in general.  No matter the category, each might have their own story of being jaded or uplifted at any given moment in their career.  Regardless, each brought with them to the Varsity Theater a huge chunk of what continues to build the Minneapolis music scene everyday.

Additionally interesting is the inbred experience of each band that takes the stage.  In a sense, as a young listener rather than participator at the time I felt I had discovered each of these bands individually, viewed them as completely separate entities when in reality each has had some integral part of each others career.  Careers that were built by not stepping on each others shoulders.  An inspiring concept to say the least.

Herstand performing at his farewell show "Last Kiss, Mpls."
Photo by:  Acacia Flory
Inspiring still, in a quick scan of the kids in the audience, I couldn't help but notice the overwhelming amount of fresh faces here to watch original music, a concept that terrifying enough has continued to wane over the past decade.  As each band took the stage the show simply seemed to flow, each of Ari's friends (bands on the bill) performed their own music in an immaculate presentation, with a humble sense of reality to their existence as artists. 

To be expected, Herstand's performance was solid, but to his amazing credit he really didn't make the show "about him."  It was seen in his performance and actions on stage that this was his thank you to a town and music scene that helped foster his career.  During Herstand's show he took every opportunity he had to share the stage with each of the musicians he had met over the years, each bringing a unique element to his show and filling out his sound to album quality in a live setting.  The show culminated in a remarkably organized collaborative performance with every musician that had performed throughout the night pulled onstage to help sing Herstand's song "Last Day." What appeared to be an organized riot turned into a one song showcase of the undeniable support of a legion of Minneapolis talent for a good friend and equal contributor to the scene that has been built here in the past 10+ years.

"Last Kiss, Mpls." was more than just a Herstand farewell (or goodbye for now as he might call it) it was a demonstration, a convention and testament to the idea that Minneapolis holds undeniable talent whom will continue to be some of the hardest working, bright eyed talent in the industry.

Performers for Last Kiss:
Ari Herstand, The Alarmists, White Light Riot, Dan Rodriguez, Gabriel Douglas, Sarah Winters, ReadyGoes, Chris Koza, Joey Ryan, Roster McCabe