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Voltage: Fashion Amplified 2005 (Wednesday, May 25th, First Avenue, Minneapolis)
Voltage fans lined up early on Wednesday evening. Voltage 2005 completely sold out.- Photo by Dan Schultz (See more of Dan's photos here.)

By David de Young

"If American Idol is taking two aspirin, then Voltage is main-lining heroin,” said photographer Dan Schultz who shot Voltage: Fashion Amplified for the second year running.

The Voltage event is a rock show wed with a fashion show that is far more than the sum of its parts. For the second year in a row I look back on it with a sense of genuine awe despite having been a member of the production committee. Six months in the planning, the last month of which required huge time commitments from producer and designer Anna Lee and her volunteer staff, Voltage is a testament to the axiom that the more energy you put into something, the more you are likely to get out of it.

Voltage is more than just a show; it is an “event” in the truest sense. This year Voltage began spreading out from the venue itself and included a pre-show press and sponsors party in a posh downtown loft and will sponsor a post-show (June 4th) Fashion Crawl. (More details at

And Voltage has something for just about everyone. Music, fashion, glitz, glamour, and great people watching. My boss, who has not seen a live rock show since Paul McCartney was last in town, brought his daughter who has an interest in fashion design, and both father and daughter, neither of whom are regular show-goers, had a blast.

Sarah Kahn of the Violettes beams during the Violettes set at Voltage - Photo by Dan Schultz

Here are a few highlights of Voltage 05 from where I was standing:

Melodious Owl (outfitted by designer Molly Roark) answered any question about how they might handle a large stage and massive audience. (Bands sometimes have trouble making the transition from smaller stage like the Entry’s to the First Avenue Main Stage where there’s a lot more psychological space to fill.) Melodious Owl blasted Voltage off to a great start. The house was already packed.

The Violettes (outfitted by Kristen Thoreson) looked and sounded awesome. (See the photo to the left of Sarah Khan and you can see it was more than just audience members who were beaming from the excitement.)

• Another early highlight was Steve Hutton’s The TV Sound. I watched part of this segment from backstage in order to get a good view as it was so crowded in First Avenue that finding a vantage point from which you could see was sometimes difficult -- a drawback that perhaps a higher ticket price might fix next year. The TV Sound was better tonight than I have ever heard them, and was another band that had no problem filling the whole main stage with their presence. The band’s bright, sunny pop was a perfect antidote to the grey, drizzly night. And Hutton, who designed for his own band, pranced on the catwalk with a wireless microphone, tagging his models one by one to dismiss them. One audience member (a former model himself who has seen many similar events) commented he had never seen such interaction before between a band and models in a rock/fashion combination.

Olympic Hopefuls on the catwalk - Photo by Steve Wolf of (see more of Steve's Voltage 2005 photos here.)

Mike Gunther and his Restless Souls (outfitted by Voltage producer Anna Lee) added musical diversity to the line-up, and a level of burlesque fun. It was exciting to see an entire new line of hats by Lee. Lee, who is a close friend of mine, had made most of these hats so recently I did not see them until they were on the runway, which gives you an idea of just how busy the Voltage committee has been over the past few weeks.

• Co-headliners, Olympic Hopefuls’ trademark orange tracksuits were replaced for the night (and indefinitely, I am led to understand) by snazzy, navy blue ones designed by Allison Nassif. Handsome and sharp, this band looked just like they sounded: stellar.

The Soviettes (dressed all in white by Kerry Riley) rocked the house and brought Voltage 05 to an energetic a close, though The Soviettes’ set is likely one that Ross Raihala was referring to during which a few models got stranded on the runway when the music stopped. The Soviettes' short songs meant they played twice as many as any other band and that made it trickier to choreograph their segment. The band also played a lot of new material that has yet to be released, songs that will be featured on the upcoming LPIII (the follow-up to LPI and LPII). Still, kudos to the Voltage choreographers who somehow managed again this year to make this look easy from a "front of the house" perspective despite the fact that there was actually a fair amount of math, pre-calculation and rehearsal involved.

[Editor’s Note: David de Young is editor of and also served as the Voltage publicist.]