Who: Music lovers, Basilica supporters, and anyone else looking for a warm way to spend two perfect summer evenings
What: Cities 97 Basilica Block Party
Where: Corner of 16th Street and Hennepin Avenue, outside the Basilica of St. Mary
When: July 8 and 9, 2011
Why: We love a good fundraiser, especially when it involves music, food, drinks, and sweltering heat.
I can’t lie. I’ve never been to the Basilica Block Party before. (insert gasp here). I know, I feel as though I’ve missed out on the last 16 years of good old-fashioned fun (the party began in 1995 as a means to raise money for the beautiful building’s structural restoration). I’ve heard of it, many times, but I’m relatively new to Minnesota and over these past few years, I’ve always either been out of town, preoccupied, or at a wedding while this illustrious concert commenced down the street. I’ve heard tales of the rowdiness; I’ve read reviews on the entertainment; I’ve seen the hung-over aftereffects of my friends, but I’ve never witnessed the event first hand. So you can imagine my excitement and anticipation as I prepared myself for what was sure to be a rockin’ good time of a weekend.
We started the night at the Vita.mn Stage to catch our favorite local boys, White Light Riot. Always impressed by their energetic performance, we jumped along with the rest of the crowd, and all agreed it was the perfect performance to set the tone for what would be a great evening. Once WLR ceased, half our party made its way to the Walser Stage in time to catch the tale end of Fitz and The Tantrums, but I was too distracted by the new sparkler on WLR’s lead singer Mike Schwandt’s girlfriend’s left hand to leave the stage. Congrats to the newly engaged couple!
We then stopped for a quick snack at the Crave burger stand, before heading over to catch the end of the Jayhawks. By this point, we had already worked our way through our first stash of drinking and eating tickets (beers were six tickets and food ranged up to eight tickets), so we stopped to replenish. Disappointed that we missed Lissie and Scars, both who played before the Jayhwaks at the Sun Country Stage, we made it a point to stay through the end of headliner David Gray. And I’m sure glad we did . . . his encore of “This Year’s Love” was probably my favorite hit of the night. Our evening continued into the wee hours of the morning, and I found myself nursing the oft-discussed Basilica hangover the next day.
Determined not to let my wild night discourage me from catching Saturday night’s headliner, Ray LaMontagne, I popped a few Advil before making my way back to the Sun Country Stage—though I had hoped to catch The Arms Akimbo play at the Vita.mn Stage at 5 p.m., I just couldn’t get it together in time. We did catch both Amos Lee and Ray perform, and it was certainly worth the recovery (which was aided by a hot dog and a powered sugar treat from a nearby food truck). It was amazing how “Let It Be Me” sounded right off the track from his Gossip in the Grain cd. Though I heard some rumblings of this year’s lineup being too slow and mellow for the usually upbeat event, I thought everything was the perfect blend of happy and laid back.
I left the concert Saturday feeling as though I had another Minnesota staple checked off my list. I had some interesting tales, nursed the hangover, and loved every minute of the outdoor concert experience. Next up on my list? Lingonberry ice cream at the State Fair—so very Minnesoooota.