October 22, 2004 at 8:37 pm #47378
Unbelievable but true:
Review: Rock for Karl features stunning constellation of music stars
Chris Riemenschneider, Star Tribune
October 22, 2004
Any number of Soul Asylum songs could have described Thursday’s historic Rock for Karl concert at the Quest nightclub in Minneapolis, which benefited the band’s cancer-survivor bassist Karl Mueller.
"Never Really Been" would fit the unprecedented lineup of Twin Cities rock luminaries.
"Runaway Train" might have summed up some of the musical free-for-alls onstage. Best of all, "Sometime to Return" suited the show’s reunion vibe, which included the first onstage pairing of Bob Mould and Grant Hart since their influential trio HÃƒÂ¼sker DÃƒÂ¼ broke up 16 years ago.
The 5Ã‚Â½-hour show was a who’s-who lineup of the celebrated local scene of the 1980s and early ’90s when the Twin Cities was ground zero for indie rock. All the stars showed up for the sold-out fundraiser: ex-Replacements frontman Paul Westerberg, a reunited Gear Daddies, a makeshift lineup of Golden Smog, plus the ever-resilient Soul Asylum.
The musicians on hand all practiced garage-band values that became the blueprint of indie-rock and grunge around the country: Inspiration over perfection, independence over fame, art over commerce. They just never had practiced them onstage together.
"We’ve all been friends, but for whatever reasons we rarely shared bills," said Soul Asylum guitarist Dan Murphy, who has played with Mueller since they were teenagers. More than $50,000 was raised Thursday to help Mueller with medical costs, said to be more than $80,000.
Jeff Wheeler"It turned into the mother of all benefits," Murphy said, "and it couldn’t have happened for a better guy."
Sitting in a quiet corner of the club as Mould took the stage, Mueller, 41, and his wife, Mary Beth, gushed with gratitude. The bassist has been out of work since April due to his treatments for throat cancer (now in remission).
He was healthy enough to play a full-on set with his band, and enjoy some of the other acts.
"Even if I didn’t know me, I wouldn’t have missed this show for the world," Mueller said backstage.
The set everyone was most happy to see, of course, was the Mould and Grant performance, which had not been announced. They did two songs together from their old band’s catalog: "Hardly Getting Over It" and "Never Talking to You Again," both seething numbers that fit the tone of their tumultuous relationship over the years.
Hart and Mould have talked since the HÃƒÂ¼sker DÃƒÂ¼ breakup, but they have never played together and clearly still aren’t best buds.
"If me and Bob can get together, that means we can all get together and put [President] Bush out of office, right?" Hart quipped as he took the stage.
After their quick reunion, Hart said in an interview, "We’ve been offered whatever you can imagine to do [a reunion], but we did this for free."
Rob Barstow, 45, of Minneapolis, was shaking his head after the duo left the stage.
"I really didn’t think they would ever [reunite]," said Barstow, one of the 1,650 fans at the club.
Getting the all-star lineup in place was no small feat. Mould flew in from Washington, D.C., where he now lives. Westerberg, who lives in Minneapolis, had just returned home from playing his first London gig in 18 years on Tuesday. Rumor had it he got stuck in traffic on his way into Minneapolis, too.
Westerberg had not played a show locally in two years. His solo set featured some of the flurry of songs he has released in the meantime, including "What a Day (For a Night)." He also played a few Replacements songs such as "I Will Dare" and "Swinging Party."
The Gear Daddies’ last local gig was a year ago. Before the band went on as the show’s finale, bassist Nick Ciola admitted with equal parts nervousness and excitement, "I honestly have no idea what we’re going to play." They blended old favorites plus some covers.
Golden Smog, an all-star band by design, predictably, did lots of covers, including the Kinks’ "Sunny Afternoon," plus the Smog standard "If I Only Had a Car." The lineup included Murphy, Kraig Johnson, Marc Perlman, Ed Ackerson and Jim Boquist, with a guest appearance by ex-Dream Syndicate singer Steve Wynn of Los Angeles.
Perhaps as a tribute to Mueller’s longevity, Soul Asylum stuck mostly with new songs. They had begun work on a new album before his battle and have since continued, with ex-Prince player Michael Bland on drums, as he was Thursday, too.
Holding the event at the Quest was a little like having a Red Sox parade in Times Square (the club competes with First Avenue, where all these acts got their start).
Still, the point was to raise money. A silent memorabilia auction and T-shirt sales added to the $50,000 in ticket sales, with a guitar autographed by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band going for $3,500.
"When I saw Karl in the hospital, I was terrified," Soul Asylum frontman Dave Pirner said near the end of his band’s set. Looking at Mueller, he added, "I can only imagine how Karl felt."October 23, 2004 at 11:59 am #105696
I heard about the benefit but am completely shocked they actually took the stage together
Hopefully Grant Hart was right about the political outcome…October 23, 2004 at 12:58 pm #105697
kinda shocking indeed! I would have thought they would be the last to ever reunite
(well, second last after the Pixies, actually… )October 23, 2004 at 6:31 pm #105698
Hopefully an Uncle Tupelo reunion could happen… it seems just about any band can reunite these days.
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