2023 was a standout year for music, featuring a mix of emerging local talent, eagerly awaited stadium performances, and exciting new artists. As the touring season winds down with the arrival of the colder months, we’re taking this opportunity to reflect on some of the most memorable concerts we had the pleasure of experiencing. We extend our heartfelt thanks to you, our dedicated viewers and readers, for your continued support and enthusiasm for our content. Now, let’s dive into our list of the top shows from 2023!
Landon Conrath and Local Musicians Sell Out the 7th St Entry
We kicked things off in 2023 with a New Years Eve show at First Avenue’s 7th Street Entry. A memorable concert featuring local talents including TYSM!, Creeping Charlie, and DJ Qani, with a surprise performance by TikTok sensation Ber. The evening peaked with headliner Landon Conrath, whose indie-pop hits like ‘2AM’ were a hit among the sold out crowd. These colder months without national tours provide local talent with exciting opportunities to get together and perform. This sell-out show not only thrilled the audience but also marked the launch of Conrath’s tour and coincided with new music releases from both Ber and Conrath, highlighting their emerging presence in the twin cities music scene.
Bella White Opens Tour In Minneapolis with a Sold Out Show
In Early February, We were invited out to catch Bella White open her tour at the 7th Street Entry, and boy were we glad to be there. Bella’s distinct blend of country and folk, coupled with her unique vocal talent, quite literally enchanted the packed audience at one of the most intimate shows of the year. In our article, we mentioned we hoped for more sold-out shows, and we were not far off with our prediction. Casey, one of our contributors, had the opportunity to see her perform again at the Winnipeg Folk Festival and the Boats and Bluegrass Festival in Winona, where she continued to mesmerize audiences. We’re eagerly awaiting her return, hoping for shows in larger venues, though we wont complain about the charm she brings into the smaller clubs, too.
Maggie Rogers Returns to the Armory
2023 Marked the exciting return of Pop star Maggie Rogers, touring following the release of 2022’s Surrender. Showcasing her growth and newfound stage confidence, Rogers performed a setlist dominated by songs from her latest album “Surrender,” while also paying homage to her 2019 debut “Heard It In a Past Life.” Her honesty in the songs were something the audience embraced, energetically dancing and singing along with both old and new tracks. The concert, marked by a rare sight of fans dancing without phones throughout the crowd, highlighted the power of live music and the promising future of both Rogers and opener Del Water Gap, leaving attendees eagerly anticipating their return again. Rogers has since teased that another new album is on the way in 2024, and we’re hoping she returns to the Armory again soon.
Bob Weir Performs at the Palace Theatre
Bob Weir and the Wolf Brothers’ triumphant return to St. Paul’s Palace Theatre showcased their ever-evolving interpretation of the Grateful Dead’s legacy, with an additional ‘wolfpack’ ensemble than what we’ve seen in the past adding depth and variety to the classic catalog. Their performance, rich with horn sections and unique setlists, notably celebrated Women’s History Month, while also hinting at Weir’s recent orchestral endeavors. Amidst swirling rumors about Dead and Company’s future, this concert affirmed the allure of Grateful Dead’s music, continuously reinvented, and yet familiar. This article delves into the band’s innovative journey, offering a glimpse into the future of this iconic music legacy, a must-read for Deadheads and music enthusiasts alike.
Red Hot Chili Peppers Perform at US Bank Stadium
It was our first time at US Bank Stadium, and we wouldn’t want to have kicked off our time there for any other artist than Red Hot Chili Peppers. US Bank Stadium, typically a sports arena, transformed into Minnesota’s largest concert venue for an unforgettable night headlined by Red Hot Chili Peppers. Despite the venue’s acoustic challenges, the evening was filled with stark contrasts in performances. The Strokes, returning after 16 years, delivered a somewhat lackluster set, with lead singer Julian Casablancas appearing disengaged. In contrast, King Princess energized the early arrivals with a performance suggesting readiness for her own headline shows. Red Hot Chili Peppers showcased their enduring energy and skill. Flea’s classic dynamic stage presence was on full display, and John Frusciante’s standout performance, particularly in acoustic renditions, were welcomed by the audience upon his return to the band. The band’s set, drawing from their extensive catalog, proved their lasting influence in alternative rock. This article delves into the night’s highs and lows, offering insights into the performances and the unique venue experience.
Goose Takes Flight at The Palace Theatre
Goose was one of the more surprising and memorable shows of the spring, distinguished by their unique take on jam band traditions. With a significant following, including fans journeying from Chicago, Goose distinguished themselves with stellar musicianship and Rick Mitarotonda’s exceptional vocals, setting the tone for Jam Bands to come. The concert featured compelling performances, including a 25-minute rendition of “Tumble” and a vibrant, surprise cover of Bruce Hornsby’s “The Way It Is” in the encore. Their ability to reach musical peaks early in the set raised the bar for the second set, which they met with fan favorites like “Arrow” and “Bob Don”. Goose’s blend of technical skill and accessible vocal talent positions them as a jam band with wide appeal, underlined by a promise to return to the ‘great white north’. This article delves into their impressive performance and the unique atmosphere they create, making it a must-read for both jam band enthusiasts and newcomers like me, now turned a fan.
MUNA Storms The Palace Theatre
MUNA returned to the Twin Cities for the second show here in under a year, and It became more than just another tour date; it was a vibrant celebration of self-expression, empowerment, and queer joy. Their performance, infused with playful stage antics and profound messages about LGBTQ+ rights and body positivity, resonated deeply with one of the most enthusiastic crowds of the year. Fans engaged wholeheartedly, echoing lyrics to hits like “Number One Fan” and “Anything But Me,” while the band’s genuine connection and vulnerability shone through. Highlighting the inclusivity and acceptance that MUNA fosters, the concert was a haven for queer youth and allies alike. The encore, featuring a guest appearance by opening act Nova Twins, encapsulated the band’s impact and hinted at their potential, and their necessity, for larger venues. This article captures the essence of MUNA’s dynamic live show, a must-read for those seeking to know more about the power of music as a unifying force.
Taylor Swift Takes Over Minneapolis
Taylor Swift’s 2-night concert run in Minneapolis sparked an unprecedented frenzy, from fully booked hotels to city-wide swifite tributes – proof of her unparalleled influence. The excitement surrounding her shows was beyond comprehension, with the city even renaming itself ‘Swiftie-apolis’ and extending Metro Transit hours for her shows. Name another artist who can command a city’s transit system? Over the course of two nights, nearly 120,000 fans converged at US Bank Stadium, enduring its notorious sound quality just to witness Swift’s magic. Her performance was a cultural spectacle. The opening acts, Gracie Abrams and Girl in red, set the stage for Swift, who went on to perform an electrifying 44-song set full of wardrobe changes, choreography, pyrotechnics, confetti, and everything a pop show should be. In our biggest show of the year, This article delves into the massive impact of Swift’s presence, the communal experience of her concert, and the lengths fans go to preserve memories of this once-in-a-lifetime event, a must-read for any music enthusiast.
The Head and The Heart, and The Revivalists perform Co-Headlining show in St. Cloud
In our only show at the incredible new Ledge Amphitheater (A bummer for sure, but we’re hoping for more next summer!) Fans experienced a memorable summer night with The Revivalists and an old favorite of TSLN, The Head and The Heart. The venue’s stunning outdoor setting, reminiscent of a smaller Red Rocks, set the stage for an unforgettable evening. The Revivalists, led by David Shaw’s dynamic vocals, energized the crowd with their soul-rock sound, focusing on their new album. The Head and The Heart followed, creating a serene atmosphere with their soulful folk-rock. The show held special significance for violinist and vocalist Charity Rose Thielen, with her local roots to the area adding a personal touch. Both bands skillfully balanced their evolving catalog with fan favorites, including an encore with the beloved “Rivers and Roads.” This article captures a perfect summer concert, showcasing the enduring appeal of these bands and the unique charm of The Ledge Amphitheater.
The 2023 Winnipeg Folk Festival
The Winnipeg folk festival was the first time TSLN has gone global, and it was for a lineup well worth the hassle of international travel. The 2023 Winnipeg Folk Festival, a vibrant celebration of folk music, was a triumphant return to form for the festival. Headlined by artists like Fleet Foxes, Emmylou Harris, Vance Joy, and The War on Drugs, the festival offered an eclectic mix of performances that drew a record-breaking 75,000 fans from across both Canada and the USA. Local Canadian acts like Boy Golden stepped up impressively, while a family performance with the unique Wainwright family was a rare treat. We met up again with artists like Bella White, Charley Crockett and Buffalo Nichols, who all added depth to the festival, each bringing their unique styles and stories. This article highlights some of our favorite performances, capturing the spirit of a festival that’s more than just music.
The Killers Perform Surprise, Intimate Show at First Avenue
The Killers’ surprise show at First Avenue, announced just a week earlier and instantly sold out, was a coveted event rivaling even Taylor Swift’s ticket demand. This rare, intimate show was surprisingly the band’s first in the legendary Minneapolis club’s mainroom, earning them a new star outside the venue. Dispite the cramped space, Frontman Brandon Flowers embraced the smaller stage, even covering a Prince song as a nod to the town. The concert was a big musical party, the band rolling through an impressive 19-song set in just 90 minutes, with Flowers engaging more personally with the audience than he would’ve in an arena. Despite the ear-splitting volume, the highlight was their rendition of “Mr. Brightside,” starting as a slow remix before exploding into the beloved original, eliciting the night’s loudest applause. This article offers an insider’s view of this unforgettable night, showcasing The Killers’ unique charm in a smaller venue.
Pearl Jam Returns to Minnesota For First Time In 10 Years, Kicks Off Fall Tour in St. Paul
At their St. Paul show, Pearl Jam’s initial seated performance was a departure from their famously energetic style, taking fans by surprise. The shift from a tranquil beginning to an explosive energy, particularly during “Black”, was a huge payoff for the fans looking for that energy again. The concert was a bright display of the audience’s deep connection with Pearl Jam’s classic hits, sadly overshadowing the great opening act, Deep Sea Diver. Eddie Vedder’s leadership through the concert was a blend of nostalgia and poignant humor, recognizing the audience’s preference for beloved anthems like “Even Flow” over more activism-focused songs. The encore, a thoughtful homage to lost music legends, added a layer of emotional depth. Pearl Jam’s defiance of the curfew with an extended performance underscored their spontaneity and enduring appeal. This article captures the essence of the concert, highlighting Pearl Jam’s ability to connect with fans across generations while maintaining their authentic, spirited essence.
The Midnight Returns to St. Paul
The Midnight’s concert was more of a nostalgic journey, perfectly capturing the essence of a past era with their unique blend of retro-futurism and evocative music. Their sound, rich with heavy synths and saxophone solos, transports listeners to an alternative, idealized version of when music was good, goddamn it! The band’s appeal lies not just in their music but in their ability to create soundtracks that fit into an action-packed, cinematic experience. The live performance was electrified by Justin Klunk’s sax solos, a rare and exhilarating highlight that had the audience erupting in cheers, contrasting with the typical reaction to guitar solos from other bands. The diverse crowd, adorned in tropical shirts and neon sunglasses, added to the ambiance, reflecting the band’s ability to draw fans from various backgrounds. This article captures the essence of The Midnight’s concert, a perfect encapsulation of yearning for a bygone era, a fun read for music lovers and nostalgists alike.
Sammy Rae & The Friends Bring Their Crowd To Camp at The Palace Theatre
Sammy Rae & The Friends’ concert in St. Paul was a playful, inclusive atmosphere, the band taking on the role of friends performing on an enchanting summer camp-themed night, complete with lanterns, camp decor, and friendship bracelet-adorned microphone stands. The band’s energetic performance stood out in today’s stiff concert scene, marked by their unapologetic joy and dynamic stage presence. Fans, fully embracing the theme with their own summer camp clothes, added to the immersive experience. The show was a celebration of inclusivity, with the audience being an integral part of the performance. Their music, infused with soul and classic rock, showcased their versatility, especially during the encore where band members swapped instruments. In an era of complex fanhood, Sammy Rae & The Friends offered a refreshingly simple and welcoming experience, leaving the audience longing for more and eagerly anticipating their return. This article captures the essence of an unforgettable night that transcends your typical concert.
Bruce Hornsby Performs at New Uptown Theatre
Our first time in the Uptown Theatre, the newly renovated movie-theatre-turned-concert-venue was to see a magical night with Bruce Hornsby, a legend of the piano who is celebrating the 25th anniversary of “Spirit Trail.” His solo performance, a blend of skillful piano play and nostalgic storytelling, filled the venue with a unique atmosphere. Hornsby’s set was a masterclass in musical improvisation, taking on fan requests and weaving them into spontaneous medleys. His collaboration with Sean Carey of Bon Iver added a generational bridge to the performance, with playful duets and renditions of classics like “The Way It Is.” Hornsby’s ability to spontaneously navigate his extensive catalog, even surprising himself, made the evening a captivating journey through his musical landscapes. This article captures the essence of that evening with Hornsby, an unmissable experience for fans of heartfelt, expert musicianship.
TroyBoi. w/ EVAN GIIA, MZG, GNDHI Perform at The Mission Ballroom
As 2023 drew to a close, our Colorado correspondent Eliza brought us an exciting review from Denver. At the Mission Ballroom, an electrifying lineup unfolded, beginning with MZG’s lively performance and a hit mix from Nicki Minaj. GNDHI took over next, mesmerizing the crowd with his distinct sound. The highlight of the evening was Alt-Pop sensation Evan Giia, who captivated with both popular songs and touching pieces like “For Aisha.” The finale was Troyboi’s vibrant show, showcasing his eclectic Electronic-Dance music from “For the Love of Bounce.” This event was not only a spectacular conclusion to the year but also a promise of more exhilarating performances to come. Eliza’s article captures this high-energy night at the Mission Ballroom.
2023 has been an exhilarating ride of concerts and performances, leaving us eager for what 2024 has in store. With fresh music, upcoming albums, and new live shows on the horizon, blended with our cherished favorite and well-loved venues, the anticipation is truly building for 2024 to be even better. We can’t wait to share more shows with you, and we hope you’re just as excited.