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Duluth, MN | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | SELF

Duluth, MN | SELF
Established on Jan, 2015
Band Rock Pop


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Review: PLAYDATE packs a party for first night of Homegrown"

A certain thing happens every year on the first night of Homegrown Music Festival, AKA “New Band Night.” If you’re willing to go into the work week already overdrawn from the sleep bank, you will be rewarded with something like Nathan Holte in a vintage New Year’s Eve blouse and a mask-like silver shimmer across his eyes, and he will dance like he is mid-exorcism while his relatively new band, PLAYDATE, plays the sort of synth pop that you forgot you wanted to hear.

Homegrown Music Festival (eight days, about 200 bands, Duluth and Superior venues) kicked off Sunday with an appeal to the class of 2031. The Children’s Music Showcase featured kid-friendly musicians playing kid-friendly tunes. But the last act of the night blew out a microphone midway through its dancy set at Pizza Luce.

“It was too sexy,” someone in the crowd yelled at PLAYDATE.

The glitch lasted a fraction of the set and the band took the song — maybe called “Late Night Rewind” — from the top.

PLAYDATE, which opened earlier this year for Aaron Carter at the Red Herring Lounge, has a sound that goes from big 70s swirling ballad with electric guitar solos to sailing away with Styx. They might sneak Haddaway’s “What Is Love” lyrics into a song.

The finale was a cover -— synth player Ned Netzel took falsetto on Prince’s “I Wanna Be Your Lover.”

Holte closed by telling the crowd that this was his eighth Homegrown appearance and he appreciates the repeat faces.

“It’s group therapy,” he said.

Earlier in the night, a soon-to-be grad from the University of Wisconsin-Superior performed a super-earnest, super-transparent, high-energy hip-hop set. Brandon Gordon is Illyrik, of St. Paul and he played opposite a Macintosh that he futzed with, starting songs over again and somethings canning completely.

He warned the crowd he might lose his breath rapping with some songs, and shared the struggle when it was done.

He had a strong stage presence and had the front rows dancing. At one point a woman made her way to the stage to give him a fist bump after a softer song. Then he rapped off the beat of the audience clapping.

When it was over, he called the performance one of the greatest moments of his life.

“I’m just living my dream right now, playing in front of y’all. I’m filled with so much joy, so much gratitude,” he said.

Horse Girl, a dark rock-country band composed of members of Chase Down Blue and Lion or Gazelle seemed to be swathed in a blue light for a too-quick set.

It’s always a little unsettling, adjusting to bar light and, frankly, bar life on a sunny spring afternoon. Now imaging the 100 or so raging revellers are knee-high and they’re all packing a tambourine or cymbals and half of them are face-painted like the cast of “Old MacDonald.” Ay-yi-yi.

The lineup for the Children’s Music Showcase included Terrence Smith, Robi Meyerson, Dan the Monkeyman and the Fidgets at the Red Herring Lounge. There were also bubbles and sidewalk chalk outside, and puzzles, crayons and face paint inside.

DtMM is a monkey-eared guitar player who covers the stage with stuffed monkeys, has his own theme song (an earworm, but that’s okay) and encourages monkey calls from the audience when he really gets ripping. He also brings a bin of instruments, some decorative, some legit, and microphones.

There was at least one squirt-sized fight for control of the microphone. - Duluth News Tribune


PLAYDATE released their debut single “My Mistake” this week. The band formed last summer in Duluth, Minnesota. Their music is a mix of electronic, dance and funk. Priding themselves on being veterans of the Duluth music scene, the members of PLAYDATE are very proud of their hometown. It is clear from their social media presence that they are a newly formed band; they have very few followers on SoundCloud and Instagram.

“My Mistake” is a fun and upbeat song. It has a great hook, and uses lead singer Nathan Michael Holte’s voice to its benefit, especially his falsetto. The drums and bass line add to the dancey-funk feel of the song. Their electronic persona is not the main focus in this song, although it definitely has a synth-pop vibe to it. The song has a catchy melody, good musicianship and is well produced. With a first single like “My Mistake” it is only a matter of time before PLAYDATE catches on. - thenu.world Isabel Ross

"7 Energizing Electropop Singles"

A lot of tracks that have crossed my path of late have a retro-style synth sound that harkens back to the early days of my youth (i.e. 1980s). Now, the important thing to remember when adding some retro-chic flair to your project is to adapt that sound for a contemporary audience. Don’t just rehash New Wave or some equally played out sound that has already come and gone. Scavenge the remains and make it your own. That’s exactly what PLAYDATE does on “My Mistake”. Coming from the indie side of the electropop spectrum, PLAYDATE has a style that transcends both time and genre to create something funky and a little familiar but totally fresh. Listen to “My Mistake” below or head here to score your own copy. - YabYum

"Release: PLAYDATE Changes Band Name After Cease And Desist"

Duluth band

What's in a name?
After recently receiving a cease and desist letter over the use of their name, the Duluth band formerly known as "PLAYDATE" is officially announcing the release of its new name: Àlamode - ÀLAMODE

"PerfectDuluthDay Band Profile Podcast"

Àlamode brings us back to the pop and funk mixture of the Minneapolis sound. Nathan Holte and Ned Netzel explain why the song “My Mistake” isn’t a mistake. - PerfectDuluthDay

"Two Members Of ÀLAMODE Are Interviewed By The Current's "Duluth Local Show""

Rio Daugherty and Alex Piazza of ÀLAMODE (formerly PLAYDATE) stop in to talk about the band's reluctant name change, and we preview this weekend's DuLutsen showcase at Papa Charlies. - The Current's "Duluth Local Show"

"From Carebears to The Electric Witch: Duluth groups weigh in on their band name origins"

One thing to consider when selecting a band name: Has it already been trademarked by a rock band with royal-meets-couture lineage?

This was the lesson for local pop-funk band known now, suddenly, as Alamode. Before they were Alamode they were Playdate, and a recent cease and desist letter from a Los Angeles-based lawyer told them they were infringing on a trademark.

The official Playdate is listed on the online trademark database as belonging to Tatiana Von Furstenberg, daughter of the designer Diane Von Furstenberg and Prince Egon Von Furstenberg. According to a New York Times feature about a recent art show she curated at a gallery in the Lower East Side, Tatiana Von Furstenberg is the rock band's lead singer.

The Duluth band formerly known as Playdate acted fast and didn't fight it. They unpublished their Playdate Facebook page and switched their Twitter identity to indicate they were not Playdate, according to guitar player Peter Knutson. Now they're Alamode — a band name taken from the title of a song they never completed, he said.

It's a name with similar properties to the old one.

"It's catchy," Knutson said. "And it's kind of funny. Served with ice cream, what's in fashion. It's a funny play on words."

According to recent unofficial survey of local bands, names can be drawn from — among other places — medical hyperbole, geographic puns and ancestral links. Catchy is crucial, according to band namers. They should also be memorable. And if a singer-songwriter connects to the name on a higher level, that's nice, too.

Gaelynn Lea didn't name The Murder of Crows, the violin-guitar duo with Alan Sparhawk. But Lea had long considered the crow to be a spirit animal before he suggested it.

"It's my favorite bird, and it has been for a really long time," she said. "I feel a strong connection to them. I thought it was neat (Sparhawk) thought of it."

Lea, winner of NPR's 2016 Tiny Desk Contest for her solo work, describes her appreciation for crows as being based on "weird, new-agey reasons." She's read a lot about their symbolism, she said, and seeing them in nature makes her feel grateful.

"I notice them a lot," she said. "I'll have cool instances where I'm sitting by myself and a crow will come along and we'll be in each other's space."

Lea said that just before meeting Sparhawk and forming the band, she was getting reiki from a woman who claimed to see a crow during every session with her.

"That's why The Murder of Crows was so intense," Lea said. "I don't know if I've actually told (Sparhawk) that."

Emma Rustan also has a personal connection to her stage name. She performs electro-folk music as Ingeborg von Agassiz, a name with layers of meaning. It's born of two powerful and influential women of high medieval Europe, she said: Hildegard von Bingen and Eleanor of Aquitaine.

Rustan was named after her great grandmother, who went by Emma but was named Ingeborg.

In German, von is "of" or "from."

"Agassiz refers to the region of Minnesota where I was born and raised," Rustan said in an email. "An ancient colossal glacial lake once covered that entire northwest part of the state, going well into Canada. Glacial Lake Agassiz was far bigger than all the Great Lakes combined, but evaporated about 10,000 years ago."

Zac Bentz's synth-noir, dark romance band featuring a shimmering, silver Mary Bue on robotic vocals, took its name from fan-fiction about a home on his dog-walking route that is always dark, day or night.

"The windows are all tightly curtained, and there's no ornamentation aside from a black silhouette of a cat in the corner of a large picture window," he said in an email. "It's always dark except for one small window high up at the back corner. That one always has a dim blue light shining out."

He and his wife-bandmate Stephanie Bentz began speculating about what was going on inside and developed a story.

"I figured that's where she slept," he said of the blue room. "Upright and inside a circle of arcane symbols, spinning like an engine, powering up and casting off that electric blue light. Hence, she was The Electric Witch."

Which (Witch?) is what he named his next, 100 percent electronic project.

Carebears, Carebears, Yeah is a band of five friends who write satirical songs about Duluth. "Co-Op" is about working at the co-op, said guitar-kazoo player Amy Roper. "Red Box" is about how the company closed down the video stores. There's another about gluten.

Amanda Ayres, Amber Johnson, Mary Hermanson and Lydia Komatsu used to just perform for friends and always under a new name, like Nautical Nightmares or Denim on Denim.

One night, gearing up for a show at The Encounter, they introduced themselves as Carebears, Carebears, Yeah.

"Then, we played an actual show at an actual venue and that was the name they used," Roper said. So it stuck.

"It's funny how much just the name itself made us a little following more so than our music," Roper added.

Bass player Steve Karels' favorite local band and local band name is Silk Sheiks, the soul-lounge group fronted by Dan Anderson.

"Just the imagery that it conveys," Karels said. "It kind of has this '60s-ish, nicotine-stained groove-funk vibe to it. And it's like silk sheets, which has a sexual tone, but it's sheiks, these powerful ambassadors of whatever, funk I guess."

The brainstorming session for the blues rock-funk band that would become Kitschy Gloomy yielded about 130 different potential names including Transparents, Buddha Pesto, Mosquito Incognito and Steve MyQueen.

"Then a whole slew of other ones that didn't make the grade," Karels said.

Kitschy Gloomy plays on the Ojibwe word for Lake Superior, gichigami, and the Kitchi Gammi Club on East Superior Street. Karels is also in Songs of Shipwreck, which out-of-town venues routinely mess up and Fearless Moral Inventory, which they found in Alcoholics Anonymous' Big Book.

"Reflecting on yourself and seeing all the horrible choices you've made and trying to be sober and reconcile — which has nothing to do with our band," he said. "There's some awkwardness or confusion with people who are in AA or have been in AA before, and they think we're an AA band. We're a garage band that likes to drink beer."

Most of the time, they just go by FMI or Fearless.

"It's just too long of a band (name)," he said.

FMI isn't the only band misrepresenting itself. While all three members of The Farsights wear glasses, just one is technically farsighted.

"We later realized our name reflects the societal allegories we tend to write about," said Brynn Sias, bass player, via Twitter. "Let's just say it was subconsciously intentional." - The Duluth News Tribune

"Homegrown Day 3 recap: Crowd surfing and mall culture"

Condensed from The Duluth New Tribune
By Christa Lawler on May 3, 2017 at 7:55 a.m.


Alamode is part-phenomenon, part-curiousity. The pop band formerly known as Play Date (blah blah blah, a long story about a serious-sounding cease and desist letter) has discovered some sort of sequins-and-synth magic with its fresh take on a retro sound. Not quite disco. Not quite yacht rock — but kind of. A lot of this is Nathan Holte in a shiny shirt — at least until he starts shedding layers — flashing grins and dancing like he's the earthly vessel for the ghost of Michael Hutchence. Meanwhile, vocally, covering Prince would be too obvious.

Do these guys — Peter Knutson (guitar), Rio Daugherty (drums), Alex Piazza (bass), Ned Netzel (keys) — know that this area has a reputation for being beard and banjo land? Does this area know it has a reputation for being beard and banjo land? Not during an Alamode show, where these guys give a performance that would be remarkable even if it wasn't in front of their friends, and in return they're given a sort of ooey-gooey, mobbed at the mall, rock star treatment. It's all just so freaking fun. - Duluth New Tribune

"Duluth area offers music for everyone"

It's the waning days of summer, and that means college students are once again arriving in the area to begin a new year. Of course, they'll also be looking to find out just which musical acts are worth checking out when they get a break from book learnin' and want to take in some live music. So, here's a quick primer on five local artists who are making waves in the Duluth/Superior scene that newbies to the area might want to plan to see.

• Alamode is one name that has been popping up a lot as of late. The band — formerly known as Playdate until recently — is a pop-disco quartet that lists artists like Prince, Madonna and Michael Jackson as major influences. They play fairly regularly in the area, and they've got a few tracks on the internet that the curious can check out, like the song "Find You," which is a tight, airy number that displays the group's dancey sound well. The band is currently working on a full-length album. - Duluth News Tribune


EP "Live at the Rex" released 4/26/19

LP "Swell" released 1/13/18

EP "Singles Night" released 11/3/17



Àlamode is a pop rock band from Duluth MN.  Formed in 2015, Àlamode made its debut opening for Aaron Carter at The Red Herring Lounge in Duluth.  Initially billed as “PLAYDATE,” a cease-and-desist order from another band by the same name (led by Belgian royalty) prompted the switch to Àlamode in 2017.  The band released its first full-length album “Swell” in January 2018. After its release, the band toured the upper midwest to support the album. In April 2019, Àlamode made its second release “Live at the Rex,” an EP consisting of three previously unreleased live songs.  

Band Members