Monday, November 22, 2010

In Review: I AM MPLS

by Natalie Gallagher

We've heard it all before. Minneapolis is Minnesota nice, and yeah, we've got some world-class museums, we've got a pretty stellar skyline, we have our share of nationally-acclaimed five-star restaurants and locally-grown celebrities…but we don't have the edge of New York or the attitude of L.A. For the most part, Minneapolis flies under the radar on the national level, hovering in the shadow of bad-boy Chicago. Whatevs, we say. We're not bothered, because there are a few among us who know better--who recognize the deep talent pool in our blossoming artistic community and regularly seize the opportunity to shine the spotlight on it.

I AM MPLS, debuting for the first time at the Fine Line on Thursday night, was just one such celebration. This fashion, comedy, art, and music variety show came around just in time to warm our hearts with some hometown pride that will most definitely carry us through the long Minnesota winter ahead (hell, we're so in love with this city now, we might just enjoy those sub-zero mid-January temps). The event was the brainchild of local fashionista and all-around cool gal Sarah Edwards, whose concept was to unite local powers in all the creative hubs around town and show them off.

Sarah Edwards, producer

The evening kicked off with a comedy set from Amber Preston, one of Rooftop Comedy's favorites. Preston has a natural and unassuming presence, with glasses and red lipstick, and entertained the crowd with good-natured digs on her Fargo childhood and Minnesota stereotypes. (Andy Erikson was also scheduled to perform a routine that night, but was unable to make the show due to a family emergency.) Preston's material was perfect for her audience, who were roaring with approval at all the truisms in her set.

The fashion segment of the show followed Preston, and that was where the uniqueness of Edwards' idea really came through. Instead of sending standard-issue models down the runway, Edwards assembled an all-star posse of local Minneapolis creatives to model looks from Minneapolis boutiques Drama, b.a resale shop, Atmosfere, and upcycled fashion label CounterCouture. Shop owners, musicians, artists, chefs, bartenders, and all kinds of creative types and off beat personalities had the chance to do their thang down the runway--literally. Everyone rocked their style and kept it fresh, from cool kids like Adam Levy of the Honeydogs, who doesn't really have to do much but smile to charm an audience, to fitness guru Laura Robertson of The Firm, who threw down a push-up in a mini dress and heels, to DJ Dirty McKenzie, who stopped spinning just in time to pass out records to audience members.

More photos from the event at here

Emcees Chris Cloud of MPLS.TV and Rachel Kristyniak did a fine job managing the different phases of the show. After the runway set, sculptor and pop artist Brant Kingman put on a fantastical light show with a choreographed dance-slash-epic fight featuring himself and another dancer that seemed one-part mythological metaphor and one-part tribute to a trippy 80's music vid (either way, it was awesome). Nadine Dubois and Sweetpea of Lili's Burlesque also had a quick turn in front of the audience (too quick, as indicated by the yells of appreciation).

Everyone had one last turn at the runway as the models followed Edwards out on stage, glasses of champagne in hand. For all her preparation, Edwards seemed utterly surprised at the overwhelmingly positive reception of I AM MPLS as she took the microphone. "I don't usually do this," she laughed nervously as she looked out at the packed club. "I started this event because…there are so many amazing people in this city, and people need to know about it. I can't wait for next year when you guys are all on the runway!"

Edwards raised her glass. "A toast to Minneapolis," she announced, and the group on stage followed, along with the audience. Cheers rang out through the club, and there wasn't a soul in attendance that wasn't touched by the energy of the evening. As the party disappeared from the stage, Estate settled in and initiated the music portion of the night, firing off with a crowd-pleasing blend of electronic synths and live instruments. The much-lauded Red Pens followed, and for any late-comers, their jam-worthy set alone was worth the ticket.

As always, when wrangling of creative types is involved, the show wasn't without its kinks. Transitions could have been smoother, and Minneapolis is only one-half of what makes the Twin Cities the best place on the planet (holla, St. Paul!). Fortunately for Edwards, she has plenty of time to refine, strategize, and plan for next year's installment. And for a girl who's got a head full of bright ideas and the heart of the city in her back pocket, we're betting it'll come easy.

No comments: