Basilica Block Party Day One with Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Panic! At the Disco, Delta Rae, Eric Hutchinson, The Airborne Toxic Event, Crash, The Weeks, Black Diet, Carroll, Stereo Confession The Basilica of Saint Mary, Minneapolis Friday, July 11, 2014
The first night to celebrate 20 years of the Basilica Block Party approached free from rain, but not from the heat. The night was humid, making it feel as if you could swim to each of the three stages set up near the Basilica. To catch every artist -- or at least watch enough of each set to get an idea of who a group was -- required dedication.[jump]
Those able to get to the edge of downtown early enough were able to catch youngsters Stereo Confession bring in a punk flavor to an otherwise indie-rock/pop setting. The local music stage also included past "Are You Local" contest winners Carroll and Black Diet. The two were a dichotomy when paired next to each other, with Carroll mellowing out the crowd with their ambient rock and Black Diet loosening everyone up and getting a few people moving with their neo-soul.
Delta Rae opened up the evening on the Preferred One Stage before Cities 97 darling Eric Hutchinson came on. He comes through the Cities quite often, and the crowd here rightly loves him. His songs like "Ok, It's Alright With Me" and "Watching You Watch Him" are super catchy without pandering. He's easy on the eyes, yet not classically handsome so he can't be pegged as an artist that relies on his looks. This makes him the perfect candidate for someone who is looking to be edgy without straying too far from the middle-of-the-road indie-pop.
The crowd was surprisingly light for Los Angeles band the Airborne Toxic Event -- what a mouthful of a name. The band personifies a group that you've "Heard of, but never really listened to." You might have heard their track "Changing" while sitting in a restaurant or office lobby, though.
A younger demographic arrived for Panic! At the Disco's set on the Sun Country Airlines Stage. The band was the last to be announced and an odd addition to the evening, especially when they are often wrapped up with Warped Tour. The group had the biggest hardcore fans singing along to every track the band played. There's no denying lead singer's Brendon Urie's amazing vocals, but the young singer puts many performers of the day to shame when it comes to energy. Urie is all over the stage and always loses himself when he's in front of a crowd, allowing him to move and dance in a way that you can't if you're aware someone is watching. [page] As the skies darkened, the mountains were calling with Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and their indie-folk music. The group has a revolving lineup of 12 members, but no longer has a core member Jade Castrinos after she was voted out of the band at the beginning of June -- via email, no less. While there was no official word on what the actual reasoning was, there was most likely some bitterness behind the parting. That didn't stop the band from partying and bringing out their big hit "Home."
Back at the Preferred One Stage, Michael Franti and his backing band, Spearhead, closed out the evening to a full, energetic crowd. The California artist blends touches of reggae, folk, and funk and recasts those genres into his songs like "Say Hey (I Love You)" and "The Sound of Sunshine." The biggest cheers for the evening came when the singer brought out night two performer Ingrid Michaelson to do part of her song "Afterlife," an anthemic piece proclaiming how we all should "live tonight" -- something you might find on an inspirational Pinterest board.
Critic's bias: Go to the Basilica Block Party: if you're looking for middle-of-the-road bands that won't offend -- although a few bands like the Airborne Toxic Event and Panic! threw out a some profanities -- while soaking in corporate sponsors. Don't go to the Basilica Block Party: if you're looking for anything groundbreaking or cutting edge. You may need to take a bath in culture once you leave the BBP to feel normal again; it's almost like the pedal pub, but in concert form. It's rare to find new music via mainstream radio like Cities 97 these days anymore, so if you're looking for cutting edge underground music, you're not going to find it at the Basilica Block Party.
The crowd: Suburbia concentrated into a two-block radius.
Overheard in the crowd: "She's such a basic bitch." Random notebook dump: It seems like the Basilica Block Party always falls on the same weekends as other big events happening in Downtown Minneapolis. This weekend was the MLB All-Star game. Last year was Kenny Chesney at Target Field.
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