Yesterday, I bought concert tickets for the first time in more than a year. The day beforehand, I received my first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. After a year of tension and austerity, these steps make me feel like a door is slowly creaking open — to what, I’m not sure. But I still find myself glancing backwards at unprocessed grief.
I didn’t write about show cancellations when they were happening in March 2020. But today marks the one-year anniversary of one of the first shows First Avenue canceled, one I’d been anticipating for months: Solid Gold and Monica LaPlante at the Turf Club. It deserves a proper obit.
Solid Gold are Matt Locher, Adam Hurlburt, and Zach Coulter: three core members of the two-decades-strong, shiny-sounding Minneapolis-based band. Solid Gold’s last album (Eat Your Young) came out in 2012, and they hadn’t played a Twin Cities headlining show in years — so their March 13 concert announcement was big news for local fans. The same day the show went on sale, Solid Gold dropped a new single called “Towns,” promising to release a new album in 2020.
“God, a year ago feels like f—ing 10 years ago somehow,” Coulter told me on the phone this week. “It was weird, because I was in New York a week or so before [the show]. And there were more rumors out there that something was coming. So when we came back … [we were feeling nerves and] anticipation of the fact that we’re gonna play a bunch of new stuff. And then also in the back of our head, like: ‘What the f— is this … ominous thing in the background?'”
By March 11, 2020, businesses across the country were starting to close their shops and offices. First Avenue hosted their last full-capacity Mainroom show on March 12. The following morning, Coulter says he and the rest of Solid Gold were debating their next steps. Their manager found out the governor was planning to institute a shelter-in-place order, and by 2 p.m. Central, First Avenue had officially postponed the show.
“They were like, ‘Ok, let’s rebook it for July or June,'” Coulter said. “That was the funniest part, looking back. They were like, ‘You know, it sold out pretty quick. Let’s do the Mainroom in f—ing June.'”
Monica LaPlante and her band were set to open the Solid Gold show at the Turf, having recently collaborated with the synth rockers on a Jameson- and Fulton-sponsored 7-inch. “That Wednesday,” she said, “we’d had a [band] practice, and we were just casually talking about ways to boost our immune system over the next couple of months. And then we all walked to El Taco Riendo, and I came back and sat in my car and got a news notification that Tom Hanks had COVID. Two weeks later, the world’s different, and El Taco Riendo has burned down.”
LaPlante had been waiting tables before the pandemic, but she hasn’t rejoined the restaurant biz. Instead, she has tried her hand at video editing and considered learning a trade. She said, “So far, I’ve just been making masks and just sewing as much as I can, and trying to find little ways I can help and build a new skill out of it.”
As for that unreleased Solid Gold album, Coulter said, “When we put those couple of songs out, we weren’t even anywhere near close [to finishing the album]. We were kind of bouncing back and forth between working with people, like we always do. … But one of the upsides of this whole thing is that, luckily, we’ve been able to go and work on stuff. So we have a pretty decent size collection of songs — or at least ideas — at this point that we probably wouldn’t have had otherwise.”
Coulter continued, “I think it’s some of the best stuff we definitely have done. It’s just that putting it together is going to be the challenge. … I don’t know if that music will end up being a record, or if there’ll be a couple EPs, or it’ll just be a bunch of singles. But hopefully now with some warmer weather, we will jump back into [the studio] and have a better idea [of what’s next].”
Back in Nov. 2020, Coulter and his household contracted COVID-19, and he described the experience as “the strangest sickness I’ve ever had in my life.” He said, “It felt like I got hit by a bus. I was sleeping so much. I lost the senses of smell and taste, like a lot of people did; one of my eyes hurt. But no fever. And then it kind of went away.”
Here’s hoping live music comes back this fall or sooner. Near the end of our talk, Coulter passed along a shout-out from his bandmate: “Matt actually was saying he just wanted to shout out everybody working in the industry. I think he was just missing everybody and wanted to get back as soon as possible.”