Orion Treon of Phantom Tails
Photos by Erik Hess
Pizza Luce Block Party 2011
August 13, 2011
Pizza Luce Uptown, Minneapolis
Though there are still a few worthy contenders left this summer (especially next weekend's double-header of the SoundTown Music Festival in Somerset and the West Bank Music Fest here in Minneapolis), Saturday's Pizza Luce Block Party might end up being the best outdoor concert Twin Cities music fans see this summer.
Judged on the merits of headliner P.O.S.'s set alone, the free concert provided some positively exhilarating moments that pushed the crowd to its boiling point, and it was made all the sweeter with the accompaniment of nearly a dozen Minnesotan acts that kept the crowd on its feet (if not on its toes) for nearly 10 straight hours.
Here are a few highlights from Saturday's shindig:
Best new act with a familiar member: Farewell Continental, fronted by Motion City Soundtrack's Justin Pierre. It was one of several points throughout the day that the block party's bookers threw a curveball at the mostly Current-fed, twentysomething audience. Though Farewell Continental's music might not immediately appeal to the indie crowd at Saturday's fest, the only way to discount Pierre's output with Farewell Continental is to disparage the genre of high-gloss post-punk as a whole; the band played with an incredible precision and energy, Pierre's pitch-perfect croon serving as the focal point for the band's poppy rock jams. The frontman also proved his emo street cred by wearing a long-sleeved shirt underneath his tee, despite the 80-degree day.
Best new act with a familiar member, part II: Charles, who was re-billed as Fur Pillows when they changed their name on-air during a Radio K interview on Friday afternoon (there's already a "Charles" band in L.A., apparently). The band received a lot of attention in the weeks leading up to the block party due to Sean Tillmann (a.k.a. Har Mar Superstar's) involvement in the project, but the sullen rock jams churned out by the Fur Pillows were more akin to New Wave than Tillmann's kitschy solo dance-rock project. The set also featured the on-stage reunion of Tillmann and Jon Kelson -- who hadn't played together publicly since Calvin Krime's reunion set last summer -- but it was their fellow Arts High classmate Melinda Parks who really stole the show with her smoky, understated vocal melodies.
Best cover: Communist Daughter playing the Hold Steady's "Knuckles." Though the band mostly stuck to songs off of last year's impeccable Soundtrack to the End, they've re-energized their sound with the addition of powerhouse drummer Ian Prince (Kid Dakota, Story of the Sea) and re-imagined a familiar tune with "Knuckles," giving it an even more bittersweet, fragile vibe.
Best drinking songs: The 4onthefloor, who excel at creating a party wherever they go. There were a lot of complaints about the beer lines at this year's block party (the food and booze stations were both cramped into the small lot in front of Pizza Luce's building, with a maze of intersecting lines creating a... what's the technical term... clusterfuck for hungry or thirsty attendees), but the 4onthefloor managed to conjure up a drunk-at-bar-close vibe despite their middle-of-the-afternoon set time. No wonder these guys have held down slots at nearly every block party and outdoor show this summer.
Best booty-dancers: Spyder Baybie Raw Dog and 2% Muck, who invited MC La Manchita and a pair of backup dancers in barely-there shorts to shake their tail feathers while they played a set of raunchy rap songs. I couldn't help but giggle and wonder if the normally family-friendly event's organizers were getting more than they bargained for when Spyder brought up Doomtree's Mike Mictlan to demonstrate how to "scream into that pussy," but with anticipation mounting for P.O.S.'s set the sardine-packed crowd would have sat through anything at that point. Plus with the sun going down, most of the younguns had gone home by the time Spyder took the stage. I think.
Best set, period:
P.O.S., who riled up the crowd with a few familiar favorites off his last studio album, Never Better
, and brought Mictlan back to the stage to tear things apart with "Yeah Right." Before they played the track P.O.S. instructed the crowd that they'd have a minute and 30 seconds to start a mosh pit, and the crowd responded in kind by using the brief, blistering song to go buck-wild, and at least one supercharged young man leapt over the barricade on the side of the stage and ran across it to dive into the crowd, arms and legs akimbo. The pair also used P.O.S.'s headlining slot to debut
the title track off the
a new track that riffed on the title to the forthcoming Doomtree full-length, No Kings
, as well as a bass-heavy, blaring dubstep-inspired track off of P.O.S.'s new record that featured the chorus "I don't wanna think about it I just want to get down," which one friend said sounded just like being at popular Record Room dance night Get Cryphy. If those two tracks are any indication, it looks like P.O.S. will be taking yet another sharp turn with his new material, and the rattles of distorted bass certainly sounded to his work with Marijuana Deathsquads (whom P.O.S. collaborates with and occasionally employs as his live backing band). Both the P.O.S. solo album and the Doomtree full-crew record are coming down the pike this fall/winter, so we have a lot to look forward to from this camp in the coming months.
P.O.S. invited Sims to the stage to perform "Low Light Low Life," and then wrapped up his set with a joyous version of "Purexed" that had the crowd beaming. From his spot at the side of the stage, rapper Astronautalis acutely described the moment in a tweet
: "Minneapolis really loves @YEAHRIGHTPOS. I mean, they don't just love his music...they love him. It is a rare thing to see this."
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