Words by Sanaphay Rattanavong
UnderCurrentMPLS, the off-the-cuff experiment turned Twin Cities music culture depository, originated from its Founder Gravey’s very human desire to hold on to a fleeting cultural moment.
“I got an iPhone for the first time that recorded somewhat decent video,” he says. “I was going to shows and a particular situation came up, a band that was called Fetch the Warden, [and] I happened to know they were going to be breaking up at some point or just not playing shows anymore. I said, you know, this takes decent videos, I’m gonna get some songs, just a couple, so I would have the songs. And I ended up posting them to my personal Facebook page.”
Members of the band he filmed wanted a way to view the videos, so Gravey set up a YouTube channel for everyone’s viewing pleasure. In addition to the Facebook page (these were the de rigueur social media of the time), and posted more videos and updates about upcoming local shows. “It all just kind of snowballed, now I’m sitting here having hit 5,000 videos this year,” he explains, “which is so wild to me, I can’t believe I’m still doing it, especially because not a lot of thought went into the front-end of doing it, it just organically became what it is.”
Gravey has always kept UnderCurrentMPLS goofy, cryptic and weird. Check it out online and you’ll quickly learn that the content is ‘fart sponsored,’ or that it’s a ‘conglomerate’ and ‘product of Hollywood exploitation,’ or worse yet, showcases video recordings of live performances of ‘Minneapolis area bands.’ But don’t be fooled—unless you insist on it, of course, then be as fooled as you want—much actual work, TIME+ENERGY+SKILL, goes into making these videos—whether recorded at First Avenue, a house show backyard, or basement—available and organized for all to browse and enjoy.
Throughout the years, Gravey has worked with other videographers/music fans—Gravey himself still only uses his iPhone—to occasionally cover multiple angles for videos. Additionally, he’ll sometimes be lucky enough to get high quality audio from John Empty, a long-time documenter of the Minneapolis music scene, to sync up with what he’s filmed. People will also submit videos for inclusion in the channel—usually folks Gravey knows in the music scene. “What I’m doing is not something that I take super seriously, although I’m passionate about it,” he says. “At the end of the day I’m just a dorky guy filming bands.”
And the more he does this, the more Gravey learns about how rich the music scene is in the Twin Cities. “I wish I knew more about what is going on,” he laments. “I’m still limited by what I find out about.”
But perhaps that’s what makes UnderCurrentMPLS worthwhile and why it keeps on keeping on. “I think Minneapolis is that perfect size city where doing something like this is,” he says. “I can cover enough where it has value for people, but there’s still this sense of, ‘there’s more out there than you know’… That keeps it exciting.”
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According to Gravey, UnderCurrentMPLS 11th Year Fartaversary will be a unique opportunity to see a variety of local bands who are “all doing really interesting things in the scene right now,” at a venue that doesn’t usually put on such shows. He adds, “So I think that’s a unique opportunity to see something like that there.” In addition, video art by Worldwide Basement Vibes will accompany the performers.
WHEN YOU GO:
Saturday, July 9, doors at 12:30 pm
Where: Cedar Cultural Center
Who: See the Incredible Lineup + Grab TIX
Perks: Free limited-run T-shirts for those who purchase tickets in advance and claim their shirt before they’re gone. Food discounts will be available at participating nearby restaurants, including $1 off hot dogs.