Here I am, back on an airplane for a 7am flight to NY, less than 24 hours after I got to MN. Officially my shortest ever trip home. But a necessary one. As I wrote yesterday, this was a last-minute trip to see my ailing grandmother. And while I’m not going to go into details, but she wasn’t looking her best. Yet, still seemed excited to see me.
It’s never easy to see someone you love – who you last saw in good spirits over the holidays – laid up in the hospital bed. But as I mentioned before, my gma (as I call her) is a stubborn woman. Her body may be fading, but her mind is still sharp, most of the time.
I spent nearly an hour with her, much longer than I imagined I would. I didn’t want to wear her out, but she was up for it. So my mom, sister and nephew hung out as long as felt right. And we weren’t the only ones. Gma had lots of visitors today. My cousin Angie came to see her this weekend from the other coast (San Diego). She and my uncle Andy were in the room when we arrived. Then they left, we spent almost an hour, and then we left gma to get some rest.
In the interest of full disclosure, I had to stop writing this for a good 10 minutes as I put my hat over my face and let out what I hadn’t been able to since seeing my grandma in the hospital. I kept it together in front of her, the rest of the day was family time, and then I went out to catch a band. I got home after midnight and went straight to bed since I had to get up at 5am. I simply hadn’t had time to let it out, until now.
I was fortunately able to round up some old friends to catch Lookbook with me. I got Johnny Wess, Rooney, his friend Nabeel – and Matt and Sarah for pre-show drinks (thanks for the drinks and donations everyone). I was equally as luck to be going to my favorite Minneapolis venue: First Avenue & 7th Street Entry. The only place worth seeing music in MN, if you ask me. Other venues get decent acts, and sound good. But they’ll never be First Ave.
This is the club where my parents saw Ike & Tina Turner when they were dating (called The Depot then). The club where Purple Rain was filmed. The club for who my friend PJ and I delivered comp tickets and calendars to local coffee houses and record stores in high school – in exchange for free tickets. The place I saw Pavement. And where I saw Radiohead on the Bends tour.
I missed the stars painted on the side of the building, each tagged with the bands that have played there: from Nirvana to Tool to Squeeze to Rod Stewart (flip thru pics above). I missed the rude, heavily pierced staff and checkered floor. I didn’t miss the shitty bathrooms though, that’s for sure.
Tonight’s show was in the 7th Street Entry side, a room/venue attached to First Ave, where lesser-known acts that haven’t made it to “Mainroom” status play. For those of you in NYC, imagine if the Mercury Lounge were attached to the Bowery Ballroom.
Earlier in the Mainroom they were hosting a “SXSW Sendoff” showcase, featuring a bunch of local bands who are headed down to Austin. That started at 5pm, so by the time I got there, it was pouring out. Bummer I missed this gig. Could’ve been a good one
But that’s ok because Lookbook was good, too. They are stripped down, electronic-based duo consisting of Maggie Morrison on vocals, and Grant Cutler on beats/loops and occasional guitar. Think Glass Candy on Valium. They also happen to resemble Kevin Drew and Feist, sort of. Which doesn’t really have any real bearing on the music, but still worth mentioning.
The first half of their set was nice, albeit a bit quiet and samey. The good news is they did pick up it halfway through. Bad news is the crowd never stopped pouring into the Entry. Clearly, Minneapolis wanted to keep the “SXSW Sendoff” going for hours, as a DJ set was up after Lookbook, to be followed by Vampire Hands after that. But I had to get home. I had an early flight back to NY, and Public Enemy to look forward to Sunday night.
Goodbye Minnesota, and gma, I hope to see you again, soon.