A Legend in Our Presence- Patti Smith Reigns Supreme At Surly Festival Field

August 7, 2021 - Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States - Patti Smith And Her Band live in concert at Surly Brewing Festival Field along with Gregory Alan Isakov as the opener. (Photo by Seth Steffenhagen/Steffenhagen Photography)

The rain during the day had me feeling pessimistic about Saturday night’s show. Although I was beyond excited to cross a true legend off of my bucket list, I was not excited to stand outside in the rain. The concert Gods must have known how many people were ridiculously excited for the show because, like magic, the rain stopped just in time for the show and left us alone through the entirety. It couldn’t have been a more perfect evening out at Surly Festival Field.

A personal favorite of mine, Gregory Alan Isakov, kicked the show off with an absolutely gorgeous set (but what else would you expect from him, am I right?). Gregory Alan Isakov is one of those “exceptions to the rule” for me. Although I normally only listen to aggressive and in-your-face music, there’s something about Gregory Alan Isakov that keeps me coming back every time. The calm in his voice and the undeniable passion with which he performs is absolutely staggering. Add the raw words that hit you right to the gut with no hesitation and you are left with a truly powerful musician with a live show that just should not be missed. I honestly don’t know how I was introduced to this amazing musician but why question a good thing. The last time I saw Gregory was back in November of 2018 so a show from him was long overdue. 
His set on Saturday was short but it absolutely packed a punch and that was evident by the way the audience was overly attentive. Towards the end of his set, he mentioned how quiet everyone had been and how much he truly appreciated that. If only he knew how impossible it was to do anything else while listening to his music. It’s strong and it takes you over, body and soul, to the point where it’s impossible to even hold a conversation while hearing him perform. I truly wish I had more to say and had taken notes on the songs he and his amazing band performed but I was just so lost in my happy place that I couldn’t bring myself to spend that much time on my phone. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again– go see Gregory Alan Isakov. 

There was anticipation throughout the beautiful Surly field as the stage was changed over for the headliner. There was also a slight sense of chaos. People were rushing to the bathrooms, rushing to get food and drink, just rushing, in general, to get that perfect spot for the legendary performer who was about to take the stage and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find myself wondering if I should be rushing around too.
Where do I even begin with Patti Smith? A true legend, if you don’t know her name, you should. I won’t even go into her history because it would take up so many words and so much of your time but let’s just say she is a true idol of so many people including myself so having a chance to see her perform live was a dream come true. She wasn’t even on my bucket list just because I thought there was no way I would ever get the chance but, there I was on Saturday night, watching that dream of seeing her perform come to fruition.

Much like the opening set, the audience was beyond attentive. Although the crowd was massive, there were moments between songs that I think you could have heard a bug land on a blade of grass. It was just a staggering show of appreciation and honor and one that was more than deserved. One of the amazing things about Patti Smith is her way with words, both in tracks and between tracks, so being able to hear everything she said clearly was just the icing on the cake of the night. There’s a true elegance about Patti Smith that can not be understated. Just the way she forms her sentences and thoughts and the way she delivers them- it’s the kind of thing that instantly shoots chills up your spine. 

Much like the opening set, I found myself in a bit of a blur throughout Patti Smith’s set. I was just so stunned, so in awe, that I didn’t even think to start taking notes on my phone about the songs that she played. Honestly, it didn’t matter what she played, whatever it was, it wasn’t enough to encompass the totality of her long and legendary career. She could have played for days on end and I still don’t think I would have been satisfied. The crowd was eating up every song but the highlight definitely was her stunning cover of Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”. There are no words to describe that moment but it’s a moment I will never forget. Between Patti Smith’s vocals, her amazingly talented band, and the highly attentive and appreciative audience, Saturday night’s show was just, well, * chef’s kiss *.

There was a legend in town last night and I was truly honored to be in her presence. My words will never do that feeling justice.