4th annual Lyn-Lake Festival, 5/20/12

4th Annual Lyn-Lake Festival
Lyndale Avenue South at 29th Street South, Minneapolis
May 20, 2012

Slideshow: Lyn-Lake Street Festival 2012

The day started off a little rocky on Sunday at the 4th Annual Lyn-Lake Street Festival as Koo Koo Kanga Roo had their set pushed back 40 minutes or so due to the fairly nasty weather afoot. It was the rain was coming down at a steady pace and it was about 50 degrees outside -- not ideal for an outdoor event.

However, Koo Koo's Neil Olstad and Bryan Atichson were in fine form with their high-energy, amusing proto-hip-hop that touched on such things as food fights, unicorns, pigeons and other mostly kid-friendly subjects.

They also encouraged crowd participation with nearly every song in the form of simple dances and call-response choruses. Only about 200 people had arrived, likely due to the weather, but had Koo Koo Kanga Roo not been in the opening slot, it's very possible that most people (almost all of whom had kids) would have simply made their way back home for the day. They made the cold and rain as fun as they could be and that can't be said for most bands.

The quest for a quick meal and a brief respite from the elements caused this writer to miss much of both Bloodnstuff and Kill Me Kare-Bare's sets which was regrettable on several levels (the food quest became a brunch fiasco that I won't go into here) not the least of which being that I could hear what I was missing. Both bands turned in what sounded to be solid sets--Bloodnstuff's being so loud that it apparently could clearly be heard nearly ten blocks away.

It had cleared up by the time Mayda got under way with her mix of folk, rock and hip-hop which gets just a little bit better as time passes. The description of her work on paper seems like the punch line to a bad joke but it all falls seamlessly into place. Omaur Bliss turned in a patchy, off-kilter set that seemed both phoned in and sort of out of place. His beats and lyrics were interesting but they both lacked a little something to make it special, it was the day's weakest set.

4th annual Lyn-Lake Festival, 5/20/12
Photo by Erik Hess

Communist Daughter were up next and they offered up a set that seemed very tight by their design--including a few new ones, all of which seemed stronger than the last batch they committed to tape, but the set was marred at the end a bit with a few technical glitches, including lead singer Johnny Solomon's mic cutting out for several seconds and the guitars temporarily losing power during their last song, as well. Their frustration was obvious but it's one of the few drawbacks to outdoor fests of this nature--things don't always run as smoothly as planned. Kid Dakota followed with a stellar set of his melancholy-tinged power pop and it was a perfect mirror for the weather at that point in the afternoon: mostly sunny but the chance for a storm still loomed. Lyndale Ave. was packed by this point and the 1-2 punch of "Stars" and "10,000 Lakes" may have been the best ten minutes of the entire day.

Halloween, Alaska began the festival's run to the finish with a set that included almost of their best songs--including a stellar version of "Dance By Accident" and James Diers asking the crowd to sing "Happy Birthday" to his four-year old daughter and filming it for her to view later.

4th annual Lyn-Lake Festival, 5/20/12
Photo by Erik Hess

Night Moves closed the night out with a powerful, sharp set that included a spot-on cover of Thunderclap Newman's "Something In The Air" and what was possibly the best rendition of their own "Horses" that they have ever played (that song is ripe for nationwide-hit status.) With the sun beginning to set and an eclipse beginning the fest was over. Minneapolis needs more of these--a day with free live music, plenty of food and everyone with a smile on their face. Even with the weather not in full cooperation it will likely play out to be one of the best days of the summer.

Critic's Bias: I often avoid all-day outdoor fests due to my skin's tendency to burn even with sunblock, but this day was totally worth the mild sunburn I received on my face.

The Crowd: 20-40-somethings mostly, nearly all of whom seemed to be there more to eat than drink and seemed ecstatic about seeing music in an outdoor setting.

Overheard: "Wolfhounds? They looked like actual wolves." [early in the day, a woman was wandering the festival with two gigantic Irish Wolfhounds.]

Random Tidbit: A boy of maybe 8, dressed in a seersucker suit and fedora, danced alone on the opposite stage for the first half of Night Moves' set.

4th annual Lyn-Lake Festival, 5/20/12
Photo by Erik Hess

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