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A late night with Aiden Intro

Aiden Intro performing at Ice House in Minneapolis. Photo courtesy of Nick Greseth.

When it finally came time for Minneapolis based-band Aiden Intro to take the Icehouse stage around 11:30pm last Saturday, Sept. 30th, the thinning late-night crowd did not deter the show. They ripped through their set, often playing through the end of one song right into the next. Alternating between originals, unreleased music and covers, they kept up the energy even during slower parts. Up on stage, they were clearly having a good time, riffing off one another, dancing and having the supporting vocalists play the guitar. Though a small crowd does not always lend itself to dancing, a few audience members tried to make up for the low occupancy by matching the band’s energy on the dance floor (myself included). As Aiden Intro ended their final song, it was clear that the band members seemed to have had the time of their lives. More notably, the band members seemed to have made a connection with everyone in the audience. 

Aiden Intro is the eponymous creation of Aiden Hengel, a 21-year-old Minneapolis native, who has been releasing music since the summer of 2021. Hengel’s creative direction, via his song writing, lead vocals and guitar skills, is backed by a live band composed of six of his friends. Despite the band’s unanimous decision that their genre is indie-rock, Hengel’s inspiration spans from rock and roll to jazz, citing Bob Dylan, Dayglow and Wes Montgomery.

As the band ate cheesecake and waited for their set time, I chatted with them about how Aiden Intro came about, their favorite memories and how it has been to be involved in the Twin Cities music scene. 

As with many things, Hengel’s band began in an Instagram DM. Nate Walker, who now plays guitar for the band, started an Instagram account to showcase local music in the Twin Cities. One fateful day, he posted a playlist of all his favorite current bands in the cities. 

“Somebody that I followed was on it, they reposted it and I was jealous,” Hengel said. “So I DMed Nate and [said], ‘Yo, how do I get on this?’”

At the time, Hengel had no band, and had just released his first song, “June.” He sent said song to Walker, who quickly took a liking to it, sending back a “video of him playing ‘June’ completely wrong,” according to Hengel. Regardless of his bungled attempt at the song, Walker joined the group shortly after. Now, Hengel and Walker’s chemistry on stage is undeniable. 

Hengel knew Anna Devine ’24, Wyatt Pepin and Joe Rendleman from high school, and recruited them shortly after to sing supporting vocals, play drums and play bass, respectively. Hengel also already knew Sarah Brammer from All-State choir camp, and she joined the fray to sing supporting vocals as well. 

Marco Giovanelli, who normally plays keyboard, was not there the night I interviewed the band. Connor Bahauddin, the keyboard player for another local band called Chutes, filled the role for the evening, a testament to Aiden Intro’s involvement in the Twin Cities music scene. 

“There’s a lot of intermingling of members of different bands,” said Bahauddin. “Everybody knows everybody, so if somebody needs a guitar player, you’re gonna get a guitar player that’s in another band you probably know.”

Both Rendleman and Hengel echoed this sentiment. 

“I agree with [Bahauddin], it feels like one big family and everybody loves each other,” noted Rendleman. “Everyone’s really supportive, it’s not competitive in any way and everyone’s just having fun playing music, doing what they love. And a lot of them are really good at it, too, so that’s a bonus.”

“The Twin Cities music scene is cool because everybody’s nice, even when they don’t have to be,” said Hengel. “Everybody’s very humble and cool, and it’s easy to get involved in a lot of different things. There’s lots of cross-pollination of ideas and music.”

Despite their first show being in April 2022, Aiden Intro has amassed an impressive resume of shows. They’ve headlined a few shows through First Avenue and have opened for many others; they had a month-long residency at Icehouse this June; and they have played countless house shows. Since the band won’t have another show for the next few months, it felt only right to ask the group to reminisce on their most memorable gigs thus far. 

“My favorite gig we played was at the Fine Line on August 3rd of this past summer,” said Devine. “We’re good friends with all the other bands that we were playing with, so it just felt like a big group of friends hanging out. I felt very supported, felt the love, felt the joy.”

“I would have to say the first Seventh Street entry show,” Pepin said. “I think we were all really nervous to play that show. It’s a cool venue, it’s associated with First Ave, so I was certainly nervous to play there. It went pretty well, but I think the coolest part of that show was my brother-in-law, who’s notoriously a curmudgeon, and he came up to me after the show and said, ‘you guys should do this for as long as you can.’”

“I gotta go with Cadence [Records],” Rendleman said, referring to the band’s first-ever show, post-release of their first EP, “Not Bad.” “I feel like that was a big turning point in my life in general. It was the beginning of this band in its current conception. Yeah, one of the happiest moments in the past couple of years for me.”

Hengel agreed, noting that the performance was only 24 hours after the EP had been released, and audience members were already singing along to their songs. 

This feeling of support, from fellow bands and loved ones, is a throughline in all of the members’ stories. It’s clear that this is something they all love to do. The group is incredibly talented, separately and together, but the chemistry visible on stage when they perform is largely owed to their friendship. 

Brammer ended the storytelling with her favorite gig.

“I also really liked the show that we played at Caleb’s house where we set it on fire.”

Everyone laughed. Hengel took the reins on explaining the story

“Basically, we were playing a house show, but instead of being in a basement, it was in our friend’s kitchen. For some reason, [our friend] set a monitor on top of the stove, and it was all fine until we had somebody come up for a feature guitar solo. Somebody’s butt bumped the burner of the stove, [and] the bottom of the speaker [lit] on fire. I just remember seeing [burning], melted plastic, dripping from the speaker. I, of course, didn’t do anything about it, so I kept playing guitar the whole time. But then we dropped right into ‘Careless Whisper.’”

The band’s energy is infectious, both when I was laughing at their stories, and while I was watching them perform. It was clear why Aiden Intro’s bio on First Avenue’s website states, “Aiden has quickly formed a reputation for high-energy live shows that make his audiences want to dance all night.” 

As we wrapped up our chat before they went on, Bahauddin left us with some advice for those looking to get involved in the Twin Cities music scene. 

“One, be a good hang. Learn your instrument, or your voice. Learn that. Be dependable. That’s a huge thing, reliability is huge. And then don’t say no to stuff.”

Even though the show last Saturday is their last for a while, there’s still much to look forward to from Aiden Intro. In the meantime, follow Hengel on Instagram for updates at @aidenintro, and stream the “Not Bad” EP and most recent single “Bike Lock” anywhere you get your music.

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About the Contributor
Abby Bulger
Abby Bulger, Arts Editor
Abby Bulger ’24 (she/they) is the arts editor from Lambertville, N.J. She is a media and cultural studies major with minors in French and studio arts. She spends her free time consuming all kinds of media and painting.

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