Local Current Blog

Minnesota bands on late night: A look at some classic TV moments

There’s been a lot of talk this week about Trampled by Turtles’ and Poliça’s back-to-back appearances on late-night TV, with TBT performing on the Late Show with David Letterman Tuesday and Poliça on Jimmy Fallon just last night.

The Star Tribune supposes that this one-two punch came courtesy of a couple last-minute cancellations by Tom Waits, who was scheduled to make the TV rounds this week, while KARE-11 asked The Current’s Jim McGuinn and onetime Conan O’Brien musical guest Brother Ali just what it means for a band to play those nervewracking, awkward stages.

Their answer? No one’s really sure. There doesn’t appear to be a noticeable spike in album sales following an appearance, says Ali. But as for whether it registers an artist on the radar of a widespread (and often coldly judgmental) audience, we need to look no further than the bizarre career arc of Ms. Lana Del Rey following Saturday Night Live or the sudden rise in popularity of Odd Future following one Fallon appearance to understand the vast potential of such an opportunity.

While it’s certainly exciting to see two local artists appearing on TV so closely together, it’s not the first time that we’ve watched a Minnesota artist perform on this platform. Just recently, we saw Minneapolis sax player Michael Lewis back Eau Claire’s Justin Vernon on Saturday Night Live; Lewis appear with locals Jeremy Ylvisaker and Martin Dosh to perform with Andrew Bird on Conan; regional conglomerate Gayngs perform on Fallon; and Pink Mink’s Christy Hunt wail with the Von Bondies on Letterman, to name a few.

Here’s a look at some of the more historical appearances by local acts. Feel free to leave your own favorites in the comments!

Hüsker Dü on Joan Rivers


The Replacements on The International Rock Awards


Soul Asylum on Saturday Night Live


Atmosphere on Letterman


The Jayhawks on Letterman