Downtown Music

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June 21, 2004 // UPDATED 2:11 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Holly Day
Holly Day

Fun with appliances

Savage Aural Hotbed is more an experience than a band. The local guys create their music almost entirely by striking and contorting found and hand-made instruments. In the process, they've created an amazing class of music that makes its niche somewhere between ancient percussion-intensive tribal and some sort of auto shop-scape.

Not only does the band play music with instruments with self-descriptive names like "Propanophone" -- plus, of course, circular saws, police scanners and hollow metal and plastic pipes -- they make music inside the instruments themselves. Several songs on their last record, 2001's "The Strain and Force Handbook," were recorded inside a huge steel grainhopper, with the band beating percussion against the hopper walls.

While listening to Savage Aural Hotbed's back catalog of CDs is loads of fun, seeing them live is even better. Musically, they're truly intense, like an after-picnic, world domination-inspired jam thrown by a pack of Inuits and their robot companions. Visually, they're literally a blast, surrounded by sparks and bits of flying, melting metal shrapnel.

Last summer, when they played at Peavey Plaza, a friend of mine that lives on Nicollet Island said he could hear the screaming of the circular saws all the way from Downtown. And unlike their regular, time-restricted gigs at the various clubs around town, this evening won't be shot in a mere hour-long set. The free "Alive After 5" Peavey Plaza show starts at 5 p.m. and goes until 9 p.m., with just a few short intermission breaks so the band can treat their various burns and reattach dismembered body parts.

Tuesday, June 22, 5 p.m.,

Peavey Plaza, 1111 Nicollet Mall.


Scat, rooster-boy!

Perhaps the most distinctive and original singer/songwriter to come out of the '80s, Lyle Lovett's talent to combine incisive, witty lyrics with an amazing array of music has made him a favorite among fans of country, folk and pop music alike.

In 1989, he formed His Large Band, a big band setup featuring guitars, a cellist, a pianist, horns and a gospel-trained backup singer. With His Large Band, he ventured even further from his country roots, releasing a jazzier string of numbers for audiences and even recorded a cover of the Grateful Dead's "Friend of the Devil."

His return to the Twin Cities comes on the heels of his first record release in nearly five years, "My Baby Don't Tolerate."

n Friday, June 25, 8 p.m.

The Historic State Theatre, 805 Hennepin Ave. S.

$43-$48. (651) 989-5151.

Fun with Magnetic Fields

I'm not the only music journalist in the world to say this, but my own experiences with Magnetic Fields' Stephen Merritt are less than ideal. The one time I sat down to interview him, he actually made me cry, and considering I only cry once or twice a year, on a bad year, that was a really big deal to me.

Still, I really do enjoy Merritt's wonderful pop sensibilities, his rare ability to assemble the perfect crew of musicians for his various tours

(he's bringing amazing violinist Andrew Bird along with him for this performance) and the self-deprecating yet egomaniacal tenor of his music (small wonder that his newest album is titled "i").

Thursday, June 24, 7:30 p.m.

Historic Pantages Theatre,

710 Hennepin Ave. S. $22.

(651) 989-5151.

Holly Day can be reached at