It was about ten years ago that Anna Lee and her sister moved in next door. Xtina and I were living in South Minneapolis at the time, and I remember looking out the window, and seeing these two young and industrious former Fargoians hauling furniture into their new place. I helped them with the bedframe as Xtina put together some kind of neighborly gift for the “new kids on the block”. Candles so they would always have light, Wine so they would always have drink, and Bread, so they would always have food, Condoms so they would…well, I don’t remember exactly, but something like that.
Well, that was ages ago, and now look, our little Anna, all grown up…on the cover of the Star Tribune and Vita.mn…[sniffle]… I proclaimed Anna Lee as Fashion Maven of Minneapolis long ago, and its high time the rest of the world found out. But since no one reads my blog, at least now she’s finally getting the press she deserves.
Now, before any of you mock my rock-hard hard-rock sensibilities because I’ve attended every Voltage fashion show…don’t be fooled. Voltage is a mash-up of a fashion show and a ‘best new bands’ night, and I’m mostly interested in the bands, but I’m all for Anna’s vision, and I want to see her succeed, so color me supportive. Just keep in mind that my own wardrobe hasn’t changed much since the 90’s so I’m not really any kind of fashion authority, and my opinion should be considered more Proletariat than Bourgeoisie.
The bands that played at Voltage 2008:
ZibraZibra – Listening to this band was like being trapped inside an Atari 2600 that was run by the Village People. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. Their outfits were designed by Ivan Idland, and were an accurate representation of the band’s music: gaudy, stunning, and outlandish.
The Haves Have It – Impressive. Think Jagged Spiral crossed with Heart. Three-piece band with female lead guitar/vocals, female bass player and male drummer. Catchy, punchy pop. Their new release “Friction” just came out last month, and I Have to Have it. I voted The Haves Have It as my pick for “Audience Choice Awards”. Maybe they’d be interested in playing a show with Jagged Spiral down the road… Their outfits by EM/MA were cut as high as the price of gasoline, and smokin’ hot.
Bella Koshka – I’ve seen Bella Koshka a few times before, and purchased their aptly named debut, Slow Dancing on the Ocean Floor, so I already knew they were good. Technical problems with computer loops during the show taught them the hard way what Greazy Meal meant when they said, “…get on stage and push Play? No Way!” Funny thing is, the Owls learned this same lesson at the first Voltage show when their drum CD skipped and completely wrecked their song. Aside from the glitch, their show was top-notch. Strangely, their outfit design by Ann Alyse Clothing was kinda boring. What happened to the cool outfits they were wearing on the cover of Vita.mm?
MC/VL – I think it’s poetic justice that the Beastie Boys get ripped off like this, since they made a career of ripping off others. Lots of fun N-R-G and running around, including running into the audience. Xtina even got to participate in one of the songs! Their outfits by Erin Smith were a nod to the Licensed to Ill era just like the music; Members Only Jackets?!! Ha! and oversized fake ‘bling’ before it was even called that. Good times. If you didn’t like Early Beasties, you won’t like MC/VL. I thought they were great fun.
White Light Riot – The Minneapolis Darlings who made the “Best New Bands of 2006“. I hadn’t heard from WLR since they held an industry party for the record labels to come paw at them. They were by far the Best Dressed Band of the evening, looking quite dapper (and warm) in Olde English Velvet outfits designed by Elizabeth Chesney. A trip-up stole some of their energy about 5 sec into their set, but they got it back towards the end of their set. A good show. I’m told their CD recordings are better…have to check that out.
Birthday Suits and only “Birthday Suits”, not “The Birthday Suits”. A two-piece band; drummer and guitarist playing minimalist pseudo-punk. While Birthday Suits guitarist made better use of the stage than Gay Witch Abortion, the guitarist’s tone and singing voice were both tinny. When you choose not to have a bass player in the band, you need something on the bottom end to hold it together. Gay Witch Abortion know this, and dial in some wicked tone on the guitar (Check out “Action Cop” on their myspace), Birthday Suits provide some overdubbed bass on their recorded works (check out “Cherry Blue” and “Flying Man Y2K” on their myspace) but their live show doesn’t, and suffers for lack thereof. I can’t recall their outfits by Dan Patrick, other than they truly were wearing clothing and not their birthday suits….
Overall, the band choices were all pretty safe, a good mix of musical styles to go with the various fashions. I would say this was the best production for Voltage yet, but since there’s only been three of them, that’s not high praise. The honor is that Voltage is still going strong, and still turns a crowd and a ton of sponsors. Anna Lee knows that Voltage on it’s own isn’t enough to shake the foundations of the local fashion industry, so she’s been quick to tie it to other MNFashion events: the “Fashion Weekend” and the “MNFashion Flash” contest. Voltage is a stepping stone to an even bigger vision from the fashion maven, and it should be interesting to see how it all pans out.