Last night I attended an exclusive bash for Minnesota’s newest label, GNDWIRE Records (pronounced “Ground Wire”). Created by Mark Gehring and Dave Simonett (of Trampled By Turtles fame), GNDWIRE’s first release will be John Mark Nelson’s forthcoming album, set to drop in September. The launch party was held at Icehouse in Minneapolis, which was packed shortly after doors opened at 7. From 7 to 8 there was a cocktail hour and presentations by representatives of the Minnesota Music Coalition and the Recording Academy. The real party, however, began at 8, with the first of 3 previously unannounced special guests.
The first band up were called Bones & Beeker, who disclosed that this was their first show.Their songs ranged from Vampire Weekend-esque to nearly hip hop. I wondered at first why they didn’t have a drummer, but their DJ helped the band make those musical swings that were so intriguing. I’m definitely interested in seeing more of Bones & Beeker and hearing more of their unique sound in the future.
After Bones & Beeker, John Mark Nelson was up. A few years ago I saw Nelson and his band when they opened for Halloween, Alaska. Last night’s performance could not have been more different. Rather than the folksy acoustic tunes I’d expected, John Mark Nelson played songs with a funkier, more soulful vibe. Instead of a 12-piece band of high schoolers, he was backed by a very tight band that knew how to groove. I love this new sound, and can’t wait to hear the full album this fall.
Closing out the show was Gramma’s Boyfriend, a collective of talented musicians from various Minneapolis bands. Fronted by Haley Bonar, Gramma’s Boyfriend launched into punky songs that radiated pure energy. I didn’t stay for their entire set, but I really enjoyed what I saw.
I’d say that the GNDWIRE launch was a huge success. Icehouse was full all night, the audience was energetic, and the bands were really impressive. Keep an eye out for John Mark Nelson’s album and more from this brand new label.