Basilica Block Party: Friday
Star Tribune Stage
Jason Isbell Setlist
John Butler Trio Setlist
Fitz And The Tantrums Setlist
The Revolution Setlist
God again smiled down and awarded everyone one of the best weather weekends of the summer--
On their annual pilgrimage to The Basilica of Saint Mary in downtown Minneapolis, thousands of fans descended on the church grounds for an early July musical tradition- the two-day Basilica Block Party.
The festival began in 1995 as a fundraiser to help pay for the structural restoration of The Basilica and today, proceeds from the event benefit The Basilica Landmark, which preserves, restores, and advances it for all generations. In addition, a portion of all proceeds go to The Basilica’s St. Vincent de Paul outreach program, which provides services to those in need.
Ten acts were spread across three stages for each night- the Main Stage (sponsored by Great Clips) located in a back lot behind the building along the highway, a Church Stage (sponsored by Preferred One) out front, and a smaller local stage (sponsored by Star Tribune) .
Star Tribune Local Stage
Lena Elizabeth (Bredeson) was the weekend’s first act on the local stage, a folk-pop singer-songwriter who uses a baritone ukulele to craft songs like on her debut EP, The Line, and newest single ‘Loaded Gun’. Sounding like a cross between Brandi Carlile and Lissie, she can musically surprise with an unexpected but delightful turn.
Kid Dakota is a name fairly well known to area audiences, as it is the musical moniker of Darren Jackson, supporting new album Denervation (Graveface Records) and performing with a drummer accompanying him. The indie-rocker has a loyal local following, even prompting a PledgeMusic reissue of his initial 2000 EP So Pretty.
Lady Lark is a local pop/R&B /Funk artist (aka Taylor Harris) that recalls shades of Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu that was part of last year’s City Pages Picked to Click Best New Artists and turned the small staging area into a private celebratory dance party.
Preferred One Church Stage
Now, Now has become more of a national name of late, but had its start fifteen years ago in Blaine, MN as classmates Cacie Dalager and Bradley Hale met over similar musical tastes in high school. They released their third studio album, Saved (Trans Records) in May, and opened with ‘SGL’ as well as played newest singles ‘MJ’ and ‘AZ’ (a penchant for initials?), along with older favorites.
The indie-rock band has very positively grown since their earlier days (with …”Every Children” in their name) and the somewhat dour but bright-pink haired Dalager was seen with a big smile of her face in the late afternoon sun, as she and bandmates walked in unison with guitars.
The Revolution is always a joy to see, playing Prince-penned favorites from 1983-85 that the band originally played on, getting the crowd into it from the very first notes of their opening track, ‘America’.
The band’s musical chops continue to be in top form (a discipline drilled into them by the Purple One) and Stokely from Mint Condition again joined the group about half way in, to continue the party, ending the hour-long celebration with ‘Purple Rain’ and “I Would Die 4 U/Baby I’m a Star’.
Fitz and the Tantrums have become almost an annual tradition like the event itself, appearing here numerous times over the last few years and with good reason; as they remain one of the best live bands around, headed by vocalist Michael Fitzpatrick, co-vocalist Noelle Scaggs, and multi-instrumentalist James King.
The Los Angeles indie-pop band (that still refuses to use a guitar) remains riding high from 2016’s self-titled (Elektra Records) full-length- their most successful to date- getting the crowd involved, transforming the church’s front lawn into a disco of sorts, and even working in an Eurythmics cover, into their eighty-five minute set.
Great Clips Main Stage
TABAH is a local four-piece eclectic ensemble led by vocalist Cecelia Erholtz that plays somewhat trippy folk alt-rock that stretches in the sound spectrum from an ethereal quietness, to a louder, slightly psych head trip, and who have a full-length debut, Symmetry Somewhere, out now.
Delta Rae are station favorites and a Durham, NC folk rock band consisting of six members composed of three siblings, feature two co-vocalists and are happily about to release their next album. In advance of this, the sextet played several new songs as well as favorites like biggest hit ‘If I Loved You’ and worked in Whitney Houston and Florence + the Machine covers into their originals, impressing early into their set, with a harmonic pitch-perfect version of ‘Seven Bridges Road’.
The group has also booked a fall sixteen-week weekly residency at small Nashville club The Basement and also heads out on tour, (not formally announced yet, but) stopping by the Varsity Theater in Dinkytown, in early December.
John Butler Trio always impresses live with their unique blend of Australian roots rock and musical dexterity playing live. Together with bassist Byron Luiters and drummer Grant Gerathy (and now two additional musicians), Butler charmed with not only how seamlessly he played guitar, lap steel, and banjo, but with the stories he told between songs, that connected them even more with the entranced audience.
The quintet previewed several songs from their upcoming album (the first since 2014’s Flesh + Blood) and re-invented older JBT songs like ‘Betterman’’ and ‘Zebra’ with the additional musical firepower.
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit returned to play the Basilica again (having shared the bill with Wilco three years ago) playing the well-deserved headlining set of the evening- a stellar ninety-minutes culled from his half-dozen solo albums, along with a couple songs from his former band, The Drive-By Truckers.
Though busy with her own career and promotion of an upcoming album of her own (To the Sunset, out August 3), wife Amanda Shires took the time to appear as part of the band, with compelling fiddle playing and harmonies of her own, and Isbell was visibly glad to have her on board, often looking lovingly in her direction as they played.
The Americana alt-country singer and band were razor sharp, especially on tracks culled from latest release, last June’s The Nashville Sound (Southeastern Records), starting their set with the rocking ‘Hope the High Road’ and ending the evening with a hushed and mesmerizing duet with Shires on ‘If We Were Vampires’.
(click on any photo below to enlarge and see full image)
|DJs Keri Noble, Greg Thunder||DJ Paul Fletcher||Kid Dakota||Now, Now||Now, Now|
|Now, Now||Now, Now||The Revolution||The Revolution||The Revolution|
|The Revolution||The Revolution||Fitz and the Tantrums||Fitz and the Tantrums||Fitz and the Tantrums|
|Delta Rae||Delta Rae||Delta Rae||Delta Rae||John Butler Trio|
|John Butler Trio||John Butler Trio||Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit||Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit||Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit|