THE Tigger SCENE
TIGGER LUNNEY Tigger Lunney is a writer, talker, veteran of the music industry and Minnesota politics, and the overly opinionated dad of two overly opinionated kids. Twitter @tiggerlunney.
o t a k n a How M e s i d a r a p a e m a c be e h t n i k n for pu
or a period of time in the early 1990’s, the most reliable place in
Minnesota to see touring punk bands — some on the brink of arena stardom — wasn’t the Twin Cities, but Mankato. How and why did our 22nd largest city become ground zero for underground music? I sought out some of the musicians, fans, promoters and volunteers who made it happen. A quarter of a decade later, they all remember Kato in the 90s as an important time.
In the beginning, there was Ernie November… Mike Mrotz, volunteer at punk venue Marti’s: Mankato was a small town that seemed really boring as a young kid. In eighth grade, an older cousin gave me a copy of Dead Kennedys Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables and this opened a new genre of music for me. I started realizing there were a couple of record shops in Mankato that were independent and they carried more non-mainstream records and zines like Maximum Rocknroll. I feel like I spent a good year carefully studying copies of MRR and buying a few records trying to figure out what punk rock was. Jeremy Jessen, musician and Marti’s organizer: I think one of the most important things that funneled punk rock into Mankato, at the time, was having Ernie November Records. We had kids
Steinbauer: I don’t know of any other bands that made it as big as Libido Boyz did, though several were very formative in the scene which revolved around basement shows, garage shows, Marti’s, YWCA, there was that empty storefront in the downtown mall that had a bunch of shows, there was even an epic show out at a farm where Green Day came to town and played on farm spools and a pick-up bed. Jessen: When I was a freshman in high school, the older kids in the scene were having shows at different places around town like the Eagles Club, kids parents’ barns outside of town, basements, or skate ramps. We didn’t have a proper central venue. For a little while in 92-93, once I got more involved in setting up shows, we were able to rent a vacant store called Ehler’s in the downtown mall.
interested in the music. We had bands and shows. But we also had a place to go and get pretty much every record that was being put out in punk/ hardcore nationally around that time. And if they didn’t have it, they could order it straight away. Carrie (Chicos) Neerland, Marti’s volunteer: I grew up in Fairmont. A small number of us would drive an hour to Mankato to see punk rock shows and buy records in the early 1990s. Dustin Perry [from Libido Boyz] worked at Ernie November at the time and, although shy, was awesome and would introduce us to new music.
…and the Libido Boyz Matt Marka, musician: The influence of the Libido Boyz can’t be underestimated.
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Josh Steinbauer, musician: Libido Boyz were the kings of Mankato Hardcore scene. Not that they were particularly hardcore, I think we were just following the vernacular of scenes like DC and New York. Later on the joke was “Mankato Farm Core.” Mrotz: The Libido Boyz were the sh** and for a while it seemed like they played shows all the time whether they were basement shows, or at the local teen center that was open to all ages or at some other rented one-time location. Those guys also did some touring early on and made connections with other “underground” touring bands from that era. Dustin Perry, Libido Boyz bassist [noecho. net interview, 9/21/2017]: [We got] the chance to make friends all over the place. We got to go on tour out west a couple times and play with awesome bands we looked up to. We got to tour Europe and were on a Maximum RocknRoll comp which was definitely a big deal at that time.
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Mrotz: Ehler’s was a favorite of mine, it was an empty clothing store space located in the dead Mankato Mall in downtown. It seemed crazy to me that we could rent out the space in this mall for $175, pack it with a couple hundred kids and a few loud bands and have a ton of fun. Up until this space, we would hold shows at places and there was always some type of situation that happened that would get us banned from doing it again.
Marti’s: the center of the scene Jessen: Ehler’s lasted probably 6 months before ownership got tired of the scene. My dad has always been very supportive of my music and my involvement in the scene and he full on helped me and a few other people locate and rent out a space, an old pizzeria downtown called Marti’s. No liquor license or other way of making money other than the door charges. It started out as just trying to get the shows we were having at Ehler’s over
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