Seven local bands performed at the annual First Avenue concert.
First Avenue’s best new bands brought together seven up-and-coming Twin Cities acts for a Jan. 20 show that featured eccentric stage presence and captivating songwriting from all.
Best New Bands, an annual concert series that dates back to the 1980s, showcases a group of young artists making waves on the local music scene.
“They’ve definitely become an example for young bands trying to find their sound. They don’t need to conform to the standard sounds and genres that the music industry uses to define bands, like putting them in a closed box,” said Sophia Kulow, Marketing Director of Radio K and one of the presenters of Best New Bands.
Here’s a full review of the show.
Hailing from New York but recently relocated to Minnesota, Raffaella’s band kicked off the show with fine stage presence and crafty songwriting.
Raffaella’s latest release, “Live, Raff, Love (Act 1),” reflects the artistic honesty of her Best New Bands performance. The 26-year-old singer’s music is full of catchy lines and honest reflections on life.
As a result of her well-produced music and ethereal vocals showcased on songs like “Blonde,” Raffaella is sure to be a rising voice on the Twin Cities music scene.
Afrofusion artist Obi Original made his way into the hearts of the audience as the second act at Best New Bands. The stage presence and crowd work from Obi Orginal’s set had the crowd moving and stood out from the other acts of the night.
Obi Original’s music combines heavy dance production with energetic vocals to culminate in a rhythmic groove that doesn’t quite fit into any one genre.
Obi Original danced joyfully around the stage throughout his set, establishing himself as the future of Afrobeats in Minnesota.
The third act of the night, Mike Cotta, showcased his elegant vocals and masterful self-production.
Kota’s sound feels dreamy and electronic, while relying on guitar and percussion at the core of its musicality. Kota’s vocal harmonies add to the dreamy atmosphere.
Kota said that after a year, he hopes to continue to grow as an artist and work to reach a larger audience.
“Hopefully this next EP will bring some big fish my way – I’d like to have a powerful, well-connected team with me to take bigger steps,” Cota said.
killusonline blasted into their set with a dark hardcore rock sound reminiscent of Rage Against the Machine. As instruments pounded through the speakers during killusonline’s set, their lead vocalist, Mory, rapped with a poetic cadence that demanded attention to lyrical detail.
When asked about the future, killusonline cited their hopes for growth within the Twin Cities and beyond.
The next act, Harlow, makes folk-inspired music that takes listeners on a sonic journey through the Midwestern countryside.
Harlow’s music is passionately detailed and reflects songwriting akin to alternative band The Head and the Heart.
“A year from now, Harlow would like to get a few more EPs out, a few festivals under our belt,” Harlow’s Samuel Ketcham said. “In short, we have no intention of stopping; we love this band and each other too much.”
Creeping Charlie consists of sisters Julia Eubanks (guitar and lead vocals) and Esme Eubanks (bass), along with Harry Miles (lead guitar) and Jack Malone (drums).
Creeping Charlie filled their set with reflective vocals and edgy guitar playing that showcased their 90s grunge-inspired blend of musicianship.
“Playing this show is so validating as a band,” said Julia Eubanks. “We’ve been working really hard and to be recognized on the main stage at First Avenue is crazy. This music scene is such a special and tight-knit group of artists.”
The child of Julia Eubanks, Creeping Charlie plays expansive and deeply intimate tunes. With witty lyrics and Miles’ echoing guitar riffs, the crowd sang along to melodic songs like “Lean into It.”
When asked about the name of their group, Julia Eubanks said: “I like the idea of something that is perceived as a weed in our lawns, even though creeping charlie is also this hardy wildflower.”
The Brotherhood of the Birds
Brotherhood of Birds capped off an epic night of bluegrass-influenced songs full of string melodies and personal storytelling.
On the songs “Wolves on the River” and “Beer Chaser,” the band retold stories of life in the cold Midwestern states, balancing bluegrass with modern songwriting technique.
Brotherhood of Birds’ closing concert at First Avenue’s Best New Bands of 2022 created a soulful end to a night filled with new and exciting local music.