This year’s Best New Bands showcase took place this past Saturday at First Avenue. Writer Colleen Cowie and photographer Helen Teague attended to check out each of the seven acts: Green/Blue, Under Violet, Loki’s Folly, FruitPunchLoverBoy, Mae Simpson Music, Muun Bato, and Nur-D.
Matt Allen began rapping in 2018, but he’s already performed at Soundset, been crowned the Twin Cities’ best new artist, recorded a session at The Current, and performed at First Avenue. In some ways, his performance at First Ave’s Best New Bands concert felt like a victory lap. But then again, Nur-D is just getting started.
Allen and his bandmates bounded onto First Ave’s stage in matching Tune Squad jerseys, a nod to the classic 1996 Looney Tunes-meets-pro basketball flick Space Jam — just the kind of cultural reference that Nur-D thrives on. In any given Nur-D song, Allen might shout out Harry Potter or Batman, and his flexes include winning at chess and paying off his student loans.
Even more impressive than his quick-witted rap verses and expressive singing voice is Allen’s unbreakable, uplifting energy. The whole squad onstage, from the four-piece horn section to the drummer, who played nearly half the set standing up, sung along to every song and bounced through playful choreography. “I’m feeling glorious,” Allen sang with arms outstretched during Nur-D’s final song. And with adrenaline and smiles clinging to the air, the rest of First Ave felt pretty glorious too.