Boy bands, bops, and bangers: a proper Dinkytown back to school bash

Four Twin Cities music groups are welcoming back students with a killer show.

The exterior of Varsity Theater in Dinkytown on April 26, 2017.

Meagan Lynch, Daily File Photo

The exterior of Varsity Theater in Dinkytown on April 26, 2017.

by C.J. Larson

The Twin Cities’ diverse DIY scene will be on full display this Friday at the Varsity Theater. From chill, psychedelic indie rock bops to mosh-inciting guitar shreds, this lineup rocks. 

Miloe, one of four bands taking the stage this weekend, is a maturing lo-fi, indie rock ensemble. 

Led by Bob Kabeya, an 18-year-old immigrant from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the group has amassed a new following after the recent success of their single, “Motorola.” 

The new track is not only catchy, but a masterful blend of melancholy lyrics and an upbeat tone. 

“I try to capture a sad or nostalgic feeling in my music, because it’s really cool how music can influence our emotions,” he said.

Kabeya recently collaborated with another artist on Friday’s roster: Minneapolis rapper Qani.

Qani is a sophomore at the University of Minnesota who has been making music since he was 14. His boombox style is equally influenced by his favorite rappers, Earl Sweatshirt and MF DOOM, and his fellow Twin Cities artists. 

Qani’s introspective lyrical style plays well into what he describes as “the raw and honest music” of the local DIY music scene. 

“One sound that I’m really trying to incorporate more into my music is indie rock. My last single, ‘Fate,’ is really inspired by the local scene of music,” he said.

The rapper has also collaborated with Harry Miles of Atomic Cafe, a two-piece psychedelic indie rock band also taking the stage at the Varsity. Miles laid down the bass for Qani’s track, ‘Fate.’ 

The two artists – peers in the Twin Cities music scene and at the University – share a strong respect for each other. 

Qani says listening to Atomic Cafe leaves him awestruck. “Honestly, I might be in love with those guys,” he said. 

Miles and longtime friend Nathaniel Essma started Atomic Cafe after meeting in high school.

The pair, now sophomores at the University, have become a staple in the Minneapolis music scene. Their sound has shifted since the band’s high school days to become a better representation  of their own lives.

“Lyrically, in the past, it was like random nonsense because we didn’t really know what to say,” said Miles. 

Essma agreed, adding, “There are a lot of changes going on. A lot more introspection.”

Twin Cities-based emo, math rock group Why Not is the final group performing. The band’s  talent shines through in their instrumentals and fervent live performances, often inciting head banging and energetic moshing.

“It’ll be a really great way to end the summer with a super banger show,” said Henry Breen, singer and bassist for Why Not. 

If you do anything to embrace back to school spirit, it should be rocking out to the distinct sounds of this local lineup, because in the wise words of Qani: “They’re like, damn good musicians.” 

What: Welcome Back Bash

When: Friday. Doors at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m. 

Where: Varsity Theater, 1308 4th St. SE., Minneapolis

Cost: Free admission with a UMN ID, $5 cover for non-students

Ages: 18+