Midwest is the Best Part I: Minneapolis, MN

There’s something about the Midwest that just can’t be beat.  You email a band in Minneapolis asking to film their set, and the next thing you know they’re touring you around the city, taking you to their favorite beach hangout and asking if you need their car to do any bus errands.  I’m getting ahead of myself—let’s backtrack to our arrival into Minneapolis, Minnesota this past Saturday evening.  It was a long hot drive from Sayner, Wisconsin to Minneapolis but we made the best of the drive, stopping at Lake Hallie (bucket list check off for Locavaux member Hallie Kohler) and picking up some Wisconsin-famous cheese curds to snack on while driving.  As is the fate of most roadside snacks on the bus, the cheese curds did not remain for long.  We arrived to our friend and fellow Colgate classmate, Laura Jaffee’s, house in the Uptown district of Minneapolis that evening, greeted by not only Laura but an entire gaggle of friends!  Carter Cooper (another Colgate graduate) and a few friends from Laura’s hometown were there to hang out that evening having celebrated the Fourth of July in MPLS a few days prior. We quickly caught up, gave a tour of the bus, and headed to downtown Minneapolis’ most famed venue, First Avenue, to film a local band Laura had turned us onto:  Carroll.  Carroll was actually performing at a smaller stage connected to First Avenue, Seventh Street Entrance, but the gang took a look inside the famous main stage, first, just to see what all the hype was about.  First Avenue is among the most popular local venues in MPLS, bringing in up and comers from across the world to nationally renowned artists (of all genres!) to small, Midwestern-based independent groups.  Seventh Street Entrance, the younger sibling of First Avenue, is a small stage with an audience capacity of about one hundred people and is most famous for its showcasing of the underground punk and metal scenes (fun fact:  back in their early punk years, the Flaming Lips preferred to play at Seventh Street Entrance of all of the venues in Minneapolis!).  The Locavaux Crew got to Seventh Street Entrance in time for the opening act, Adelyn Rose, an indie rock band from Eau Claire, Wisconsin featuring a female lead singer, Addy.  Eager to get a female perspective on local music (having interviewed largely all-male or male-led groups), we sat Addy down and talked to her about the pros and cons of being a woman lead-singer in a small, up and coming, local Wisconsin band.  Carroll came on next, and it was clear from the emphatic cheering received by their first song on-stage that they were the local darlings of the MPLS indie rock scene.  The venue was packed as audience-members swayed to smooth, synthesizer-heavy sound characteristic of Carroll’s tracks. We had the pleasure of sitting down with the incredibly friendly and hilarious four friends that comprise Carroll following their set—we discussed the incredibly (almost to a fault!) supportive local music scene in Minneapolis, their days as Macalester students in neighboring St. Paul, and the awesome collaborations that take place in MPLS among musicians and artists.

And now to that part about that famous Midwestern friendliness.  The crew woke up sweltering in the bus (eighty degree mornings + closed windows + no air-conditioning = human oven, bus-style) and joined Laura and friends at French Meadow Bakery for an out of this world delicious breakfast.  Seriously—if I could eat there every day for every meal, I would, no question.  But for now, might I recommend the vegetarian huevos rancheros?  We then got a call from Carroll guitarist, Max Kalicke, asking if we wanted to hang out and see some of the sights in MPLS.  Already stationed at Calhoun Beach for some lake cooling-off and sunbathing, we met up with Max nearby, hopped in his car, got a quick tour of the Lake of the Isles area, and headed to a more “colorful” lakefront, Hidden Beach. On a separate note:  have we mentioned that whenever the Locavaux Crew gets in a car after traveling in the bus for while, it feels like we’re in a racecar?  Minivans even feel like the stuff of NASCAR.  We hung out with Max and friends for a while, discussing Carroll band members’ favorite memories of concerts and festival appearances, swimming about in the lake, learning about local hotspots in MPLS and St. Paul, and making a plethora of “I’m starting a new business” jokes.  Chase, Laura and I even took our chances and went swimming/wrestling in the natural mud pit found on the side of the lake—it got real messy, real fast.  We said out goodbyes to Max that afternoon and relaxed at Laura’s apartment, talking a walk later that evening in the Uptown area to survey some more local bars and music venues, and headed to bed on the earlier side.  We drove Laura to work the next morning (best arrival to work ever), enjoyed yet another delicious breakfast (Cuban this time!) at Victor’s 1959 Café, and headed out towards Iowa City, Iowa.  Thank you Minneapolis for proving that, while we’ve been met with nothing but hospitality and friendliness all across this fine nation, good ‘ol Midwesterners know just how to make three out-of-town kids on a bus feel right at home.