Recap and photos: The Current's 15th Anniversary Party featuring Black Pumas, The Bad Man, Seratones, MaLLy, and 26 BATS!

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Black Pumas at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
Black Pumas at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)

After digging out from Friday's snowfall, music fans braved temperatures dropping to zero to pack First Avenue for The Current's 15th Anniversary Party last night. By the time the first band took the stage, the venue was already approaching full capacity.

Before the performances and between sets, the Mainroom screen displayed the visages of many notable acts to perform at The Current studio and local venues recently: boygenius, the Cactus Blossoms, The National, Empress Of, and U.S. Girls just to name a few. Five acts were added to that tally in last night's ultra-talented lineup.

26 BATS! kicked things off with a brief intro by hosts Andrea Swensson and Eric Malmberg. The local jazz-rock collective provided an exceptionally potent performance. Lead singer Bailey Cogan utilized their stunning range to mix everything from funk to punk to create a tapestry of musical energy and emotion. Trumpet player Daniel Chavez and drummer Warren Thomas Fenzi provided theatrical solos. Despite the upbeat mood, Cogan told the crowd that the songs were inspired by themes including "seasonal depression" and another about "sexual frustration."

Next up was local hip-hop artist MaLLy, with an intro by The Message host Sanni Brown and Andrea. Behind the rapper, DJ Just Nine worked the turntables under the South Side MC's bars. Pacing like a pendulum, the 34-year-old preached a message of compassion and understanding — themes that played a vital role in his 2019 release The Journey to a Smile.

Continuing the night were the justifiably confident Seratones. Jade and Bill DeVille sang the praises of the Shreveport, La. garage-soul band before they took the stage. Frontwoman AJ Haynes stole the show with her white ruffled blouse, red tutu, and chunky black high heels: a look she said was intended to pay homage to Prince. However, it wasn't long before she asked the crowd, "Mind if I take my shoes off?" The performance drew on vintage pop rock with neo-soul attitude and vocals. "I got ta get ta know ya...and that's what we're doing!" Haynes, who is also a backup singer for the Black Pumas, howled to the eager crowd.

DJs Jill Riley and Mac Wilson then brought out the most obnoxiously fun band of the night: The Bad Man. Fresh off their sax-powered performance in The Current studio, the band immediately jumped into high gear with series of ska-inspired tracks like "Staring at Your Telephone" and "Black and White TV." Lead vocalist Peter Memorich, clad in leopard-print pants and a Mighty Mouse t-shirt, did an impressive Elvis-esque strut across the stage. The hometown boys seemed absolutely jazzed: towards the end of the set, Memorich even removed his shirt and swung his hips to the thundering 4/4 beat.

To cap off the night, Mark Wheat and Mary Lucia — both founding DJs who've been with The Current since 2005 — were greeted by the crowd as if they themselves were the closing act. The actual closing act, Grammy-nominated Black Pumas, took the stage with the moxie of Sam Cooke. Their bluesy gospel revivalism seemed effortlessly virtuosic; lead vocalist Eric Burton, clad in a pristine leather jacket, lightly swaggered around the rim of the stage while belting soaring high notes with ease.

Black Pumas were a fitting way to end The Current's birthday bash, combining the promise of new music and reverence for those who came before. As Mark Wheat said before the band took the stage, "Here's to fifteen more years!"

72 Photos

  • 26 BATS! perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    26 BATS! perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • 26 BATS! perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    26 BATS! perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • 26 BATS! perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    26 BATS! perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • 26 BATS! perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    Bailey Cogan of 26 BATS! performs at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • 26 BATS! perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    26 BATS! perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • 26 BATS! perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    Bailey Cogan of 26 BATS! performs at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • 26 BATS! perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    26 BATS! perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • 26 BATS! perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    26 BATS! perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • 26 BATS! perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    Bailey Cogan of 26 BATS! performs at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • 26 BATS! perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    26 BATS! perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • MaLLy performs at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    Sanni Brown (left) and Andrea Swensson (right) introduce MaLLy at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • MaLLy performs at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    MaLLy performs at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • MaLLy performs at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    DJ Just Nine backs up MaLLy at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • MaLLy performs at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    MaLLy performs at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • MaLLy performs at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    MaLLy performs at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • MaLLy performs at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    MaLLy performs at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • MaLLy performs at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    A crowd member grins while MaLLy performs at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • MaLLy performs at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    MaLLy performs at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • MaLLy performs at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    MaLLy performs at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • MaLLy performs at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    MaLLy performs at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • MaLLy performs at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    MaLLy performs at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • MaLLy performs at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    The crowd watches MaLLy perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • MaLLy performs at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    MaLLy performs at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • MaLLy performs at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    Camera operator Helen Teague records MaLLy at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • MaLLy performs at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    MaLLy performs at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Seratones perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    AJ Haynes of Seratones performs at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Seratones perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    Seratones perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Seratones perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    AJ Haynes of Seratones performs at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Seratones perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    AJ Haynes of Seratones performs at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Seratones perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    AJ Haynes of Seratones performs at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Seratones perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    AJ Haynes of Seratones performs at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Seratones perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    AJ Haynes of Seratones performs at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Seratones perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    AJ Haynes of Seratones performs at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Seratones perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    Seratones perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Seratones perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    AJ Haynes of Seratones performs at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Seratones perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    Seratones perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Seratones perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    Seratones perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • The Bad Man perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    The Bad Man perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • The Bad Man perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    The Bad Man perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • The Bad Man perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    The Bad Man perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • The Bad Man perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    The Bad Man perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • The Bad Man perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    The Bad Man perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • The Bad Man perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    The Bad Man perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • The Bad Man perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    The Bad Man perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • The Bad Man perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    The Bad Man perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • The Bad Man perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    The Bad Man perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • The Bad Man perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    The Bad Man perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • The Bad Man perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    The Bad Man perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • The Bad Man perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    The Bad Man perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • The Bad Man perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    The Bad Man perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • The Bad Man perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    The Bad Man perform at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • The Bad Man at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    The Bad Man at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Black Pumas at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    Black Pumas at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Black Pumas at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    Black Pumas at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Black Pumas at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    Black Pumas at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Black Pumas at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    Black Pumas at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Black Pumas at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    Black Pumas at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Black Pumas at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    Black Pumas at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Black Pumas at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    Black Pumas at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Black Pumas at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    Black Pumas at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Black Pumas at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    Black Pumas at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Black Pumas at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    Black Pumas at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Black Pumas at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    Black Pumas at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Black Pumas at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    Black Pumas at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Black Pumas at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    Black Pumas at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Black Pumas at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    Black Pumas at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Black Pumas at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    Black Pumas at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Black Pumas at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    Black Pumas at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Black Pumas at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    Black Pumas at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Black Pumas at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    Black Pumas at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Black Pumas at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    Black Pumas at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Black Pumas at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party
    Black Pumas at The Current's 15th Anniversary Party at First Avenue on Jan. 18, 2020. (Nate Ryan | MPR)

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