With so many shows, it's hard to just pick 15 shows to talk about... and I know there are a few that I feel bad about leaving off the list. I recommend looking over our list below and clicking on the shows you are most interested in reading and checking out for yourself.
With that said, here 15 favorite moments of 2015:
14 February 2015
This was my fourth time seeing Portland's Sleater-Kinney, and it was possibly my favorite. After "breaking up" in 2006, it was a bit of a surprise when they announced their reunion in October 2014 (with a new album No Cities to Love no less!). Of course, their entire 2015 North American show immediately sold out, but we were lucky enough to be there.... as were all the dedicated fans (who we haven't seen in quite a while).
We wrote, "I also wanted to mention that this wasn't just a SK reunion, but a reunion for all their fans. Personally speaking, I saw old friends I have not seen in nine years and it was all because SK came back to the music scene... so from the bottom of my heart, thank you Sleater-Kinney. "
24 March 2015
Similar to Sleater-Kinney, beloved The Decemberists disappeared from the music scene in 2011. We caught singer Colin Meloy solo in 2013, and although he did play some Decemberists songs, it just didn't feel the same. When the opportunity to see them live, after they announced an unexpected new album What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World, we jumped on board on the sold out show.
Their encore, with a giant whale, was a delight: "...then was a direct hit to the gullet, with their other folky mega-epic, the bouncy ‘The Mariner’s Revenge Song’ which stretched some twenty minutes. People were prompted to scream at a certain part ¾ of the way into the song, and the reaction was not unwarranted as a large cut-out profile of a whale ambled on stage to slowly eat each of the band members in a row, to the crowd’s shrieking delight."
29 January 2015/20 June 2015
My all-time favorite post-Britpop is Scottish band Belle & Sebastian. Although the band experienced some difficulties with their label (basically Jeepster Records didn't think they can grow beyond their cult-like status) and losing a few key band members (including sweet songstress Isobel Campbell), the band seemed to be in top form on this 2015 tour. They first hit the Enmore Theatre in Sydney, Australia, and eventually made their way to Minneapolis at Rock the Garden.
Personally speaking, as a diehard fan, I felt it wasn't their strongest performance in Minneapolis. They've been gone for 9 years from the city, and their song choices weren't what I wanted or expected. Still, despite all that, their two song finales were unfortgettable: "The two closing tracks, ‘The Boy With the Arab Strap’ and ‘I Didn't See It Coming’ were absolutely unforgettable. Murdoch walked on the front barrier and asked if anyone wanted to dance and encourage fans to come on stage. About thirty fans jumped to the stage and just had an absolute blast singing and dancing... and, yes, taking plenty of selfies."
24 January 2015
We were lucky enough to have caught Sam Smith right before his road to stardom: winning six Grammy Awards (in Feb 2015) - including Record of the Year and Song of the Year - and Brit Award winner for British Breakthrough Act and Global Success.
We wrote, "With his career just starting (though he mentioned he’s had a manager since age 12) and a strong chance that he walks away with several Grammys next weekend, Sam Smith’s local debut was worth the wait, with likely several more appearances in the years ahead, to come."
01-03 May 2015
The second annual Wizard World Minneapolis was a whole lot of fun. Unlike 2014's show, this year they had a few musical acts in conjunction to the comic book/geek fandom show: Critical Hit and our favorite Japanese Superhero band Peelander-Z. Unfortunately, due to a misunderstanding, the Peelander-Z show was cut short.
As we reported, "After just 25 minutes, the venue cut off the band's instruments!! Everyone in the audience and the band looked incredibly puzzled by the shutdown. The fans were screaming "One more song! One more song!" and Pink replied, "If only we could, but they won't let us play!"
12 June 2015
After Brian Ritchie sued singer Gordon Gano in 2007, The Violent Femmes broke up. It was only recently (2015) that they reformed, so we were more than happy to make that long drive to Treasure Island Casino in Red Wing, Minnesota, to see them. Embarrassingly enough, I thought this was my first time seeing VF, until I was reminded by a friend of mine that we had seen them in early 2000 at First Avenue. Suddenly, the memories flooded back! I will confess that I have a terrible memory.
Anyway, seeing VF was such fun! Everyone in the audience were singing to every word (expect for the two new songs), but I will also mention that I LOVE Colin Hay (from Men At Work) and he was definitely the highlight of the Barenaked Ladies' set. BNL aren't bad either, they were surprisingly a very entertaining band.
We wrote, "Say what you will about Canada's Barenaked Ladies, but they are a great live band. All those years touring, singer Ed Robertson has developed an amazing ability to randomly improvise some raps and songs. My personal favorite was the "Ring Ding Ding for Red Wing" rap, it's clear to me that they just actually thought of it while randomly shouting out rhymes."
13 March 2015/07 August 2015/03-04 December 2015
We were quite impressed with Go 96.3's very first show at Aria in early March 2015 (featuring New Politics and Banks). They spared no expenses, and it showed! They would later go on to book Go Fest 2015 (featuring Cold War Kids and Matt & Kim on 07 August 2015) and Go Snow Show (featuring Metric and Silversun Pickups on 03-04 December 2015). In fact, all the Go Shows are nothing less than spectacular. We speculate that they are possibly just losing money (thanks to their affordable pricing of "$9.63" or FREE), but we also think that getting their brand name out is well worth it.
We wrote, "So, with little Snow outside, but plenty Show inside, consider the inaugural Go96.3 Snow Show a success with the hope that this becomes a bigger and better holiday tradition, for years ahead. "
25 July 2015/20 October 2015/23 October 2015
Legendary Britpopster Blur is finally back in Australia, playing their first gig in 18 years in the country. The whole gang is back (including Graham Coxon), and we love the band so much, we travelled to Los Angeles and New York for Blur's final two US tour. It's hinted heavily that this was the band's final U.S.A. appearance. A sad reminder that for this megastar band in England... that they never really broke America.
We wrote, "I'll just say the show was bittersweet. Albarn plans to spend next year working on the band that did break the States, Gorillaz, and he has enough side projects to distract him from the band he first started out in. This may be their last concert in the country they couldn't break."
09 October 2015
FFS is the special project of Franz Ferdinand and Sparks. The two bands recorded an album and as expected with these type of one album-only tour, they basically played the entire album. As an added bonus, selective songs from their respective catalog was also played, including the wildly popular FF's song "Take Me Out" (the entire audience was bouncing and singing along to this number).
Of all the places the band could have chosen to play, they surprisingly added Minneapolis to their limited first-ever US tour... and it was well worth it for fans who showed up to catch this unique performance.
As we reported, "Both bands collaborated to produce some of the most interesting pop songs on the FFS album. It's smart, it's catchy, it's fun, and it's uniquely FFS. While I do not think there will be a sequel in the future, this was, by far, the most interesting team-up we've seen in a while."
20 September 2015
This is one of our favorite 2015 shows: Big Star's Third. Every show they do is different, mainly because they have different guests. With all these great guests, you would think they can easily screw up, but they were all surprisingly well-rehearsed and seemed to know their material and what they had to work with.
We concluded, "This show was such a massive pleasure to watch. Between a stage loaded with talent and music loaded with emotion, it was hard to walk away from this and not be inspired and heartened. Big Star created some of the most beautiful and timeless music of all time, the soundtrack to our lives. Stamey, Stringfellow and every single person who contributed to Wednesday night’s performance brought that soundtrack to life. "
10 December 2015
This was our third time seeing The 1975, fifth time if you count their two promotional appearance at Cities 97 and the Mall of America... and we called it long ago: This band is going to be massive! Not only have they sold out every appearance in the Twin Cities, but ahead of their sophomore album, they've already announced a date at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium. We think it's going to sell out, which very few bands have managed such a feat. We'll wait and see. If you need further proof that the band has made it - after we saw them at First Avenue, there were bootleg T-Shirt vendors!
As reported, "From the show’s early sell out, to the stage production, and the crowd’s intense reaction to every song, it was clear right away that the band has outgrown its club confines and is destined for bigger things (something we predicted when we first saw them too)."
We felt that the inaugural Festival Palomino last year was nothing short of perfect... however, the organizers (First Avenue and Trampled by Turtles) improved on perfection! We love the new setup and, based on these two successful shows, we're pretty sure they will be hard at work on a great 2016 Festival Palomino.
We praised, "If local festivals were racehorses, Festival Palomino is best in show. Again.
The Trampled by Turtles-curated festival, held again in the inside greens of the horse racetrack at Canterbury Park in the southwest suburb of Shakopee, triumphed once more in its sophomore year, as a prime example of a highly enjoyable, expertly-run day of music. "
24 September 2015
This was an odd-pairing, but we were really excited about UK's The Adicts' very first Minneapolis show. They were just super-duper entertaining. The band clearly has their live show down to a T, incorporating various fun stage props, various costume changes, and choreographic dance routines. The only down side to these shows is that they are practically the same routine every night, so if this is your second or third time seeing them, it'll get old fast... but personally speaking, since it was their first Minneapolis show: we loved it.
Worth the price of admission: "If anything, The Adicts is one of the most entertaining bands touring right now. I've never seen so many stage prop used on stage, from pounds of confetti (used in streamers, umbrellas, hats, etc.) to Chinese take-out cartons (used for "Chinese Takeaway"), playing cards (used for "Joker in the Pack") to light-up plastic glass (used during "Who Spilt My Beer?") to various costume changes (hats, gloves, shirts) to beach balls, to stuffed monkeys (thrown into the audience). Although this may seem gimmicky, you can't ignore that this was a first-rate production and worth the price of admission. "
29 March 2015/10 July 2015
We're big fans of Weezer since 1994. Admittedly, the band's outgrown us, but we still have a soft spot for the nerdy band. Seeing them at Burgerama IV in Santa Ana was a treat, but because Rivers' dad came on stage to sing "Back to the Shack" with the band. We caught them again locally at Basilica Block Party, and it's probably our favorite Basilica show in recent memory.
The fans loved it, "As soon as the first few chords of ‘Hash Pipe’ were played, the audience immediately recognized it and started screaming and singing. Other big hits blocks included ‘Surf Wax America’, followed by ‘Island in the Sun’ with personalized "Minneapolis" lyrics, and ‘Beverly Hills’ (which did gangbuster in California, but surprisingly did really well in Minnesota as well)."
25 November 2015
This one is still fresh in my mind, so it's one of my favorite music event I've attended. I can probably count on my hand the few plays and musicals I've attended (The King and I, Macbeth, A Christmas Carol, etc.), but watching Beautiful: The Carole King Musical was simply just magical. The seamless set changes, the constant costume changes (and one great "quick change" costumes), the great singing and music playing... they were just flawless! It probably helped that they act the same scene night after night for the last 200+ shows, but it was still pretty amazing to witness live. I have told people that it is like watching a movie, only it's completely live.
We concluded, "If you're a fan of live musical, you definitely will want to attend a show. It is a lot of fun, and the musical numbers will bring back a lot of wonderful memories."