Local Current Blog

Music at Northern Spark: Cloud Cult, Prairie Fire Lady Choir, and many others

Craig Minowa of Cloud Cult performs last year at the Minnesota State Fair. Photo by Nate Ryan/MPR.

Saturday, June 13 will bring Northern Lights.mn’s fifth annual Northern Spark event to six zones of Minneapolis; according to the website, every post-dusk visitor can expect to see “the city in a whole new light.”

For the uninitiated: Northern Spark is a free all-night arts festival that will take place on Saturday night from 9:00 p.m. until 5:26 a.m. Cleverly enough, the end time coincides with the morning’s sunrise. Then, from 5:26-7:00 a.m., the Bachelor Farmer’s chef and Dinkytown highlight Al’s Breakfast will team up for a $5 pancake feed (though it will cost $25 at the door if you forget to grab a ticket ahead of time). Even for breakfast, Northern Spark is going all out—Pierwoss & SISKA will screen films, Brian Engel will DJ, Cole Pulice will perform live, and Aria in Minneapolis will host.

Twin Cities music fans can look forward to plenty of performances at Northern Spark. First up, Cloud Cult will kick off the festival with an opening performance at the Minneapolis Convention Center Plaza. Featured as The Current’s Artist of the Month back in Nov. 2014, Cloud Cult are the Duluth rock band known for tender, rich tunes like “Pretty Voice” and “Chemicals Collide.” According to Northern Lights.mn Associate Director Sarah Peters in an interview with The Weekend Starts Now, TPT’s Lowertown Line recommended the band to Northern Lights.mn as one “that would understand and dig the environment of Northern Spark.” Based on that recommendation and the plan that Lowertown Line would tape the show and televise it on a later date, the band seemed like a clear choice for the 8:30 slot.

Because of city sound ordinances, Cloud Cult will play the festival’s only amplified outdoor show, finishing up by 10:00 p.m.—but the Northern Spark crew have scheduled many other opportunities for visitors to see performances during the night. For example, the Prairie Fire Lady Choir will take the Mill City Museum lunchroom at 10:00 p.m. to perform a capella covers of songs by artists such as Fiona Apple and the Replacements. Every hour, a new musician will add layers to a piece in progress at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design’s project, An Overture in Seven Parts. And from 10:00 p.m. until midnight, Charanga Tropical will host a samba and salsa dance night at the Walker Art Center.

The Minnesota Orchestra String Quartet is slotted to play one of the most unique events of the night in Orchestra Hall at 10:15, combining “contemporary electronica and traditional Indonesian gamelan,” according to the Northern Spark website. Musical fusion will also show up in the Mill City Summer Opera’s show of selected arias and opera scenes. They’ll perform a few times throughout Northern Spark—more details are here.

Stick around the Mill City Museum after one of the Opera’s shows for a chance at composing your own music—all through the night, John Keston and students from Art Institutes International Minnesota will play the music you create at the “Instant Composer” activity.

In non-music news, UCLA Game Lab will bring an “artist arcade” video game bar to the Target Atrium in Orchestra Hall. Revolver will host Write Fight III, which Peters described as a “Moby Dick-themed writing battle” in her Weekend Starts Now interview; and a drove of food trucks will stick around Spark hubs all night, sustaining hungry festivalgoers from dusk ‘til dawn.

Meanwhile, Intermedia Arts will be celebrating women in hip-hop with an opening party for their B-Girl Be tenth anniversary exhibit. Though not officially associated with Northern Spark, the all-night party—which will feature performances by Desdamona and Maria Isa—coincides with the overnight arts festival.

If you’d like to add onto the many free experiences of the festival (and/or the $5 pancake feed), tickets are still available for the Northern Spark 2015 Launch Party, which turns visitors into VIPs between 7:00-9:30 p.m. in the Mill City Museum Ruin Courtyard. Minneapolis-via-L.A. musician Adam Levy and his band And The Professors will play an exclusive performance for launch party guests.

Cecilia Johnson is studying English and Spanish at Hamline University. Her favorite things include local bookstores, AlunaGeorge, and calamari tacos.