Grab your sunscreen — music festival season has officially begun. Over the next two weekends, the Twin Cities hosts a slew of block parties and festivals packed with live music spanning punk rock to hip-hop.
What started as an open artist studio tour in Northeast Minneapolis has expanded into a full-blown, neighborhood-wide block party. No fewer than a dozen venues are hosting live music lineups during Art-A-Whirl weekend. Highlights include Bauhaus Brew Labs’ Liquid Zoo, which features performances by R&B darling Caroline Smith, hip-hop band Heiruspecs and indie band Communist Daughter, and Indeed Brewing’s Whirlygig, headlined by piano man Mark Mallman and punk duo Birthday Suits.
When: May 19–21
Where: Bauhaus Brew Labs, 1315 Tyler St. NE, and Indeed Brewing Company, 711 15th Ave. NE
South Minneapolis bowling alley bar Memory Lanes hosts its annual Memory Lanes Block Party over Memorial Day weekend, with two full days of live music from nearly two dozen acts in its parking lot. Chicago-based indie-soul band JC Brooks and R&B songstress Sarah White are featured in Saturday’s lineup, while influential local punk band Dillinger Four headlines Sunday’s bill with Afro-funk throwback act Black Market Brass and Cuban band Malamanya. After 10 p.m., the party heads indoors with hip-hop DJs Shannon Blowtorch, Sophia Eris and DJ Keezy on Saturday and old-school soul DJs Lady Heat on Sunday.
When: 3 p.m.–2 a.m. May 27–29
Where: Memory Lanes, 2520 26th Ave. S.
Cost: $5 per day, free after 10 p.m.
Now in its 10th year, the annual Soundset Festival has become a national draw. The brainchild of Minneapolis-based hip-hop label Rhymesayers Entertainment, Soundset’s 2017 lineup features more than 40 acts, including Lauryn Hill, Mac Miller, Pusha T, T.I., Travi$ Scott, Gucci Mane, Talib Kweli and Rhymesayers’ own Atmosphere, Brother Ali and Sa-Roc, as well as past label artist and Doomtree member P.O.S., up-and-coming Minneapolis neo-soul band Zuluzuluu and the first reunion show of cult hip-hop act Dr. Octagon of California.
When: 11 a.m.–9:30 p.m. May 28
Where: Minnesota State Fairgrounds, 1265 Snelling Ave. N., St. Paul
Cost: $88–$98 GA (VIP sold out)
Info: soundsetfestival.com and Fifth Element, 2411 Hennepin Ave. S., 377-0044
“Graffiti Nature — Still Mountains and Movable Lakes”
As screens continue their dominance of popular culture, art institutions are evolving to become part of the digital age. The always-innovative Walker Art Center is responding by presenting interactive, multi-sensory exhibitions, such as “Graffiti Nature — Still Mountains and Movable Lakes” by the Tokyo-based international art collective teamLab. Taking inspiration from traditional ukiyo-e painting, manga and anime, the group looks for new ways to explore themes of perspective and space through technology. “Graffiti Nature” layers images, sound and movement to create a virtual ecosystem of exaggerated wildlife and plants that encourages viewers to create and scan their own drawings, removing the boundaries between people and the environment.
When: May 20–Sept. 10
Where: Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Ave.
Cost: Free with museum admission ($14 adults, discounts available)
“‘Gambatte! Legacy of an Enduring Spirit’: Japanese American WWII Incarceration, Then & Now”
During World War II, the family of Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Paul Kitagaki, Jr., was incarcerated in a Japanese internment camp. He later discovered that one of his favorite photographers, Dorothea Lange, had taken photos of his family in 1942 while they awaited a relocation bus in Oakland, California. This eventually led him to the National Archives, where he found photographs of his family and others interred in the camps taken by Lange and photojournalist Tom Parker. In “‘Gambatte! Legacy of an Enduring Spirit’: Japanese American WWII Incarceration, Then & Now,” he has juxtaposed these historic photographs with contemporary portraits he took of the same individuals or their descendants. Also on display will be “Patriot Nations: Native Americans in Our Nation’s Armed Forces,” an exhibit that illustrates the history of the Native American and Alaska Native men and women who have served in the United States military (May 27–Aug. 12).
When: May 28–Oct. 28
Where: Fort Snelling, 200 Tower Ave., St. Paul
Cost: Free with site admission ($12 adults, discounts available)
The cultural significance of hip-hop is at the center of “Mixtape,” a collaboration of seven Twin Cities dance artists with different perspectives on the genre. Together, the group explores the question of “What is hip hop?” They challenge commercial “hip hop” culture while reclaiming the movement and exploring its history. The lineup includes veteran hip-hop dancer J-Sun, who approaches dance with a critical lens; Al Taw’am, a pair of 18-year-old identical-twin Muslim sisters dancers who are the youngest winners of a Minnesota Sage Award for dance; and Magnolia Yang Sao Yia, a Hmong artist-activist who blends social justice and dance.
When: 7:30 p.m. May 19 and 20, 2 p.m. May 21
Where: The Cowles Center, 528 Hennepin Ave.
Info: 206-3600, thecowlescenter.org
“Unstoppable Force: Women Artists, Here and Now”
North Loop’s Form + Content Gallery presents an eclectic assortment of work by some of Minnesota’s most acclaimed contemporary female artists. Known for her vivid, large-format images of engineered landscapes such as public parks, orchards and topiary gardens, photographer Lynn Geesaman’s work emphasizes composition and geometry. Shana Kaplow’s paintings of everyday, common objects touch on themes of mass production and the connections between cultures, labor and domestic life, while Barbara Kreft utilizes repetition to create intricate patterns and multiple layers of paint to create depth in her abstract paintings. Jantje Visscher’s abstract photographs examine patterns of natural objects, such as water, shells and fish skin, and painter Valerie Jenkins uses abstract shapes and lines to explore how interpretation is shaped by perception.
When: May 25–July 1; opening reception is 6 p.m.–8 p.m. May 27
Where: Form + Content Gallery, 210 2nd St. N.
Midwest Comic Book Association’s MSP ComiCon 2017
With its big-name celebrities and high-priced meet-and-greets, Wizard World’s Comic Con is the summer blockbuster movie of the comic convention world. The homegrown MSP ComicCon is a more creator-focused convention, with appearances from more than 250 DC and Marvel comic book artists and a 100,000-square-foot marketplace with hundreds of dealers from all over the country. Founded by the Midwest Comic Book Association in 1988, the volunteer-run event also offers panels, charity art auctions, game demos and kids’ activities.
When: 10 a.m.–6 p.m. May 20, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. May 21
Where: Minnesota State Fairgrounds, 1265 N. Snelling Ave., St. Paul