Flip Rushmore — Dan Klauer, Nick Spielman, Alex Smith and Adam Szczepaniak — will play First Avenue’s 7th Street Entry on Sunday, June 10. Photo by Michelle Bennett of Wolfskull Creative

Best Picks: May 31–June 13

Updated: May 30, 2018 - 1:31 pm

What to do downtown after work

A cool Minneapolis rock band

The members of Flip Rushmore just played their first show together in May. A month later, and they’re ready to debut their first album.

It’s a milestone frontman Alex Smith, drummer Adam Szczepaniak and their bandmates Dan Klauer (guitar) and Nick Spielman (bass) have been waiting years for. Over the past 18 months, Smith, who lives in Nashville, made trips up North to write, rehearse and record what’s become “Big, If True,” a 10-song record they’ll release June 1. Sometimes he just made excuses to visit family so he could work on music with his bandmates in Minneapolis. Eventually the four pieced it together hundreds of miles apart.

“It just felt like a really long time,” Smith said. “I still wanted to be in a cool Minneapolis rock band despite the fact that I was in Tennessee.”

flip-rushmore-band-photo-5790_origThat cool Minneapolis rock band came together in 2015 when Smith, who is originally from the Twin Cities, felt the itch to finally make the music he always wanted to make. The local music scene has an eclectic mix of influences, something he didn’t see in the pop-country world around him.

“I feel like Minneapolis has so many musicians like that,” Smith said. “Here, you’re not going to run into pop artists or people trying to be Top 40.”

The result delivers on that variety. “Big, If True” meanders from ’90s West Coast rock through genres like folk, alternative rock and funk.

“I think variety is starting to become more important. There’s so much music coming out. You need a band that can write hard songs, balls to the wall, and you need a band that can pull on your heart strings, too,” Szczepaniak said.

Intro “Phife and Merle” references two music figures, Tribe Called Quest rapper Phife Dawg and country singer Merle Haggard, who died within a month of each other in 2016. The listener is hanging on the edge of each word of Smith’s fast-paced voice as he breezes through the nearly four-minute song, a reminder of our fate at the beginning of the album. “Please don’t lose me now. I’m still delivering,” Smith sings in the chorus.

flip-rushmore-band-photo-4608-300_orig“That Hollow Sound,” a single the band debuted on 89.3 The Current in March, is reminiscent of the Red Hot Chili Peppers with a dose of melancholy. “DDT” or Diet Dr. Thunder, the Walmart soda, is based on an actual Washington Post profile of a man who’s passionate about bringing his semi-automatic rifle into the big-box store. The song, written from the man’s perspective with details fleshed out by the band, delves into politics with a dark humor, along the lines of the band’s name, which Szczepaniak envisions as Mount Rushmore flipped upside down.

A continuous theme throughout “Big, If True” is nostalgia, which comes through with Flip Rushmore’s ’90s-style sound and songs like “Christmas Lake Rd,” which has the singer remembering a trip down the road off Hwy. 7. Even the title of “Aspen, CA,” one of the band’s oldest songs, is a reference to an off-hand comment Jim Carrey’s character makes in 1994’s “Dumb and Dumber.”

“The song is about nostalgia through media, television, movies and things so that was sort of the jumping off point lyrically,” Smith said.

The album is a journey back through the mind, from the youthful, albeit wise, tone of “Phife & Merle” (“And you can’t plot this chorus any better than I”) to the Beck-inspired ending with reminiscent songs “Sunflowers,” a recounting of a changing hometown, and “Loserhead,” where Smith sings about summers long past (“Time is slippin’ like a ghost / Just me, my friends and Captain Oats”).

Flip Rushmore will play songs from “Big, If True” on Sunday, June 10 at First Avenue’s 7th Street Entry. The 18-plus show will feature opener Telamones, the local indie rock duo of Chris Wald and Zach Gonet. Tickets are $10 in advance or $12 at the door.

Photo courtesy of the Walker Art Center
Photo courtesy of the Walker Art Center

Par for the miniature course

I had the best round of golf I’ve ever played at the Walker Art Center.

The course, complete with a giant gumball machine, a miniature curling lane and even a 10-foot diorama of Minnesota, wasn’t exactly regulation. This was the artist-designed Skyline Mini Golf course on top of the art museum.

The 10-hole course, a variety of quirky installations put together by artists, is ready to play through early September and will cost you $10 per person, though there are a variety of discounts available — not to mention that children age 6 and under play for free.

The first hole, which for me was “Reflection of Choices” by Chris Crammer, doesn’t even require a putter at first. Players drop their balls down a board like a giant arcade game. Even a non-golfer like me can get behind that.

Some of our favorites included “Guess What? Chicken Putt!,” which makes you choose between aiming for the fox or taking a risk on the obstacle-hidden chicken. “Be a Sculpture!” is especially fun for groups. It’s basically a mini fairway mixed with a Twister board where your friends serve as the hazards. The last hole, “Don’t Blow It,” is great for Instagram, as it seemingly transforms your golf ball into a gumball slowly going through the machine. Just make sure your phone is ready.

After working up a sweat with all that golfing, the rooftop is a picturesque place to cool off and enjoy drinks or snacks from the Cityview Bar.

Pryes Brewing Co. Submitted photo
Pryes Brewing Co. Submitted photo

Home is where the plants are

Earlier this year I was in Denver’s arts district and a home goods boutique I found was hosting a succulent bar. Never heard of a succulent bar? Well, neither had I.

But you can learn at Pryes Brewing Co. on Saturday, June 2. The brewery, located just outside downtown Minneapolis, is hosting a pot-your-own-plant bar from 1 p.m.–5 p.m. with Succ it up Buttercup. The make-and-take event will run about $15–$30 and will include the houseplants, new and vintage containers and everything else you’ll need to plant and decorate your new buddy. Can’t make this event? Well it looks like Succ it up Buttercup is making the rounds this summer and will be at breweries like Inbound BrewCo (July 2), Modist Brewing Co. (July 29) and many others.