Tonight’s show is a celebration of 89.3’s 19th birthday, and like any 19 year old, they’re facing somewhat of an identity crisis. It’s the time in your life when the friends you swore you would have for life at 14 have moved on without you. (We miss you Wheat, Looch, and Jade) Like a teenager’s first tryst with independence on their own, The Current, once known for its near uninterrupted music experience, now flirts with an addiction to commercial revenue, It’s ‘Is supported by’ ads threaded into the playlist slowly over the years until we realized Subarus and co-op’s are now mentioned during every bumper. And they are questioning whether majoring in Wilco was the right path, or if they should have chosen a different major, Perhaps following the renegade spirit of its elder sibling, Radio-K, the one that never quite fit the mold but whom the distant relatives still love. 

Yet, they know better than to get caught up in the glory days of its earlier years, even though nostalgia begins to hit us all by 19. They’ve made some new friends (Diane and Zeke are of note in their styles) and still play familiar indie darlings while peppering in new music now and again. Despite its teenage crisis, They’re sense of preciousness lingers – this station remains a jewel in the upper midwest, Too rich in memory, melody, and perhaps brewery venue partnerships – to let slip away.

It’s in that identity crisis that brings us tonight’s lineup, Abraham Alexander, Local rising musician BER, and one of The Current’s favorites – Lucius. 

Kicking off the night on a soulful, atmospheric note was Abraham Alexander. Solo acts at a performance like this make me nervous simply because it’s typically an artist you have to pay attention to in order to understand them, but whose set typically ends up being washed out by chatter as people funnel in. Abraham Alexander’s sound, however, made sure people were more amazed than they were interested in talking – a testament to the connection Alexander forged with every note played.

Alexander’s presence was magnetic, his smile a prelude to the music he was about to lead. “We got some fam in the house,” he smiled as people cheered for him when he mentioned he’s performed at First Avenue before, opening for Leon Bridges a few years ago. 

His sound straddles the realms of rock and R&B, becoming even more potent when he stepped away from the microphone to solo on his guitar on loop pedals.. His proclamation, “I’ve been burned by the fire / Now I dance in the flame,” from the song “Blood Under the Bridge,” resonated not just as lyrics, but as a powerful declaration of resilience and transformation. In a moment of reflection, Alexander expressed his gratitude to The Current, acknowledging the platform’s role in elevating artists like himself. “Thank you for believing in me and amplifying voices like myself,” he said, his words echoing the sentiment of mutual appreciation and support.

Regardless of the state of The Current, they have always been supportive of musicians both nationally (Abraham Alexander hailing from Texas by way of Greece.) and locally. The Twin Cities, overdue for a pop-star to call our own, have long reached beyond their borders for musicians to claim as ours (See: Bon Iver, Lizzo). But now, Bemidji’s own Ber emerges, even if it’s taken a second for us to see it on a local scale. Ber has gone viral on Tik-Tok, earned millions of streams online for her songs, and performed international tours. Even though she has been active since 2020, her virality hasn’t immediately translated to anything tangible here at first. Only recently has she started to boil over into the playlists of local dj’s, headlining slots in local festivals, splashes in magazines, and coveted features.

And while we love our local music, Ber is proving to be more than just a footnote in the pages of Minnesota’s musical collection. It’s the opening chapter of a saga that strongly hints at stardom. For any musician, A sold-out show in the revered mainroom is a rite of passage that can be hard to attain, even for musicians active for decades. For Ber, Tonight is her second sold out First Avenue show this month. A unique enough accolade to show that this isn’t just another artist on the rise.

There’s an electric charge in the air as Ber moves rhythmically to the pulsating beats of “slutphase” and “Internet sucks.” Her smile, wide and radiant, sweeps across the crowd, Both in awe and disbelief. It’s a look reminiscent of Maggie Rogers, one that speaks volumes without uttering a single word. In Ber’s eyes, there’s this blend of marvel at the sea of faces before her and a pinch-me-I’m-dreaming realization that this grand, euphoric moment – is her life. Yet she bares more confidence than Maggie Rogers had in the past, navigating the stage and bantering with the crowd as if she’s been doing this for years on this level already. 

Speaking of years, 19 seems to be the magic number tonight. The Current is celebrating it’s 19th birthday, and Lucius, lookalikes Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe, have revealed that they first started singing together 19 years ago. It seems like it’s no accident the anniversaries align. Lucius is brought here for two shows, the first, last nights show, having been a early tour stop celebrating the 10 year anniversary of their debut album Wildewoman, And tonight’s birthday show being a typical catalog of Lucius songs mixed in with choice cuts from Wildewoman, in case fans didn’t make it to last night’s show. 

Lucius has always done a good job making their shows both a pop spectacle and musically fun. Tonight they donned mirrored outfits (shoes and haircuts matching, too) drums placed in front of them with disco-ball mirrors, keytars, and matching sunglasses all on top of choreography for each song. Yet, amidst this kaleidoscope of gleaming pop glamor, Lucius also wears their heart on their sleeve – perhaps their biggest fashion statement. Incorporating a mailbox on stage, from which they extract and read fan letters during the show, they pay tribute to the timeless art of handwritten messages, celebrating the deep, personal connections it symbolizes.

Lucius loves their fans as much as their fans love Lucius, and this was even more apparent during the encore, when the band ventured out into the crowd to play “Two of Us On the Run” acoustically. Surrounded by fans and a wall of phones to record it, tonight’s show is just as much a celebration as it is a thank you.

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