A Look at Minnesota’s Best New Bands of 2017. Who Did They Miss?

Last Friday afternoon, I couldn’t focus. It was almost time for First Avenue’s annual Best New Bands of 2017 show, and I was hyped up! I was excited to finally see Lady Lark live (I’d been watching her for a while) and to see other performers I’ve had on my radar: Early Eyes and The Bad Man.

The annual event, put on each year by First Avenue, was hosted by Andrea Swensson (89.3 The Current), Sylvia Jennings (Radio K) and Jordan Alamat (95.3 Go Radio). Minneapolis punk band Sass kicked off the show at 7:30 p.m., followed by indie group Early Eyes, BLAHA, (surf-psych), The Bad Man, up-and-coming Minneapolis hip hop performer Dwynell Roland and Thomas Abban. Lady Lark was the final musician to perform, coming on at just after midnight.

My Favorites of the Night:

  1. Early Eyes. It’s easy to see why Early Eyes has made this year’s list. For a group of young guys who gained their footing with performances on the grounds of the University of Minnesota’s campus, the five members of Early Eyes have developed a calm, recognizable friendship with the stage, paired with a humble recognition of where they’ve come from. With indie-pop influence, and through songs like “Penelope” and “Take You”, Early Eyes offers catchy music that you can’t help but sing and bob along to.
  2. Thomas Abban. Thomas Abban likes to play the mysterious card, but there is something equally magical about him. Just moments into watching Thomas perform, it was clear his talent far transcends his age. At age 21, Thomas radiates self-awareness and seems grounded in his truth. If I’m speaking truthfully, I’m preferential to the sans-band, stripped down side of Thomas he’s shown in some of his YouTube videos, like Echo and Blackwater, but Thomas fits quite well on First Avenue’s stage, too. An intriguing lyricist and guitar standout, Thomas ebbs and flows creativity. We are just seeing the beginning of Thomas Abban.
  3. Lady Lark. I’m a bit biased here, as Minneapolis-based Lady Lark, who’s music has been called “bouncy, playful and slinky” by The Current, has been my list of “to-see” artists for a little while now. I had high hopes for Lady Lark on Friday night and she did not disappoint. Part pop, part soul, Lady Lark is the essence of confidence. If you’re lucky enough to see her perform, you’ll most definitely leave her show with more bounce in your step and perhaps, a bit more confidence yourself.

The Maybe Shoulda’s That Made My List:

While I feel Lady Lark and Thomas Abban definitely deserved their place on this year’s Best New Bands of 2017 list, there are quite a few other Minneapolis groups and musicians deserving of a shout out this year. My top “maybe shoulda”? Graveyard Club. With a true 80’s pop vibe and awesome lyrics, Graveyard Club is highly worth a listen (see them live if you can make it happen). Check out their video for Nightcrawler to get a sense for their sound.

Who I’m Watching This Year:

Making the Best New Bands list back in 2014 as a part of the all-girl group Grrrl Prty, Lizzo was honored with the Best New Artist title on the City Pages Best of the Twin Cities 2017 list. I’m excited to see what more Lizzo gets up to in the year ahead.

What did you think of this year’s #BestNewBands selections? Were there others you would have put on your list? Tweet me your thoughts at @jennamariepr.

Click the link for more on First Avenue’s Best New Bands of 2017.

Check out more of my blog posts here.


Jenna Marie is an independent music marketing and promotions consultant for new and up-and-coming musicians in Minnesota with over 6 years of marketing experience and music industry insight. Need tips on building your brand or help with promoting your music? Contact Jenna Marie at info@jennamariepr.com.

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