Yesterday was one of those days that just can’t be put into words. For the past 16 or 18 years (nobody is really quite sure), Dillinger Four has been putting on D4th of July here in Minneapolis. It’s a day (or two days in the past) full of great music, cold drinks, and the best of people. Yesterday was no different.
Speedweed kicked the day off. Unfortunately, due to my brother and I needing some lunch, we missed most of their set. We were able to make it outside just in time to hear their final song and I was instantly bummed that we hadn’t gotten there earlier. Speedweed’s music was loud and chaotic and exactly what I needed to get through the afternoon slump that I was currently struggling with.
After a quick stage turnover, Smurf, I mean Murf, took the stage. Murf is a band that I’ve had multiple people tell me I absolutely have to see live and, within the first song, I understood why. The chaotic music matched the insane live show perfectly. With the members covered in blue paint (I’m thinking a tribute to the Smurfs but my brother was quick to point out maybe it was just supposed to be red white and blue for the holiday), Murf left no survivors in their quick set. Channeling their inner Gwar, Murf sprayed the quickly growing and rambunctious crowd with fake blood which people wore like a badge of honor throughout the rest of the day. My friends definitely nailed it. Murf is a new favorite of mine and I can’t wait to see them again.
Off With Their Heads was up next. A personal favorite of mine, I was definitely excited to see these guys since it has been a couple of months since my last fix of seeing them live. Their set was full of hits that I couldn’t resist but to sing along to. The dark lyrics of OWTH have never really matched the more upbeat punk sound but that’s part of the charm of this band. With the Surly beer flowing freely, the audience became more and more rowdy throughout OWTH’s set which ended with a pretty good sized pit formed in the middle of the parking lot.
Following OWTH was the one and only Boris the Sprinkler. It was clear that this was a highlight for many people in the audience. Fronted by Reverend Norb (of Rev. Norb & the Onions and a true figure in the punk scene), Boris the Sprinkler is one of those bands that you only ever dream of seeing live. Formed in Green Bay back in the early 90’s, Boris the Sprinkler quickly gained a fanbase with their fast and catchy songs about everything from not wanting to walk to Taco Bell alone (yes, that song truly spoke to me) to drugs and masturbation. Their outlandish lyrics matched Norb’s outlandish black and white swirled skin-tight leotard that was completed with electric green fuzzy leg warmers and a plastic neon-green hair piece. Everything about Boris the Sprinkler’s set was over the top and fun.
The packed crowd quickly turned to sold out as it was time for the almighty Dillinger Four to take the stage. I can not express to you how fortunate I feel to live in a city that is home to such a great, influential and genuine band. Every time I see D4 play, I am overcome by a sense of community. Although my brother and I were alone in a sea of strangers, we felt far from alone. D4 kicked into their set was interrupted by funny stories and random ramblings from the members. There were multiple points during their set where they thanked the audience for continuously coming out for D4th of July. It wasn’t just a thank you that the audience heard though, it was one that was felt. There aren’t many places in the world where a bunch of punks get together and make something like this happen year after year and being part of this truly leaves me speechless year after year.
D4th of July almost didn’t happen this year. With the untimely demise of The Triple Rock (where this event has been held in the past) I’m sure many people shared my fear that we would never have a D4th of July again. The band addressed this and admitted that they almost didn’t do it this year. What’s the harm in taking a year off? Then they went onto saying that they just couldn’t not do it. D4th has become a staple for many people’s 4th of July celebrations and it just didn’t feel right to not do it. They went on to explain that they put feelers out to the bands that they wanted and, before even discussing pay or anything else, all of the bands they had reached out to confirmed. That says everything that needs to be said about this event. It’s not about the money, not about the exposure, it’s about getting together as a clusterfuck of a family and having a damn good day.
Dillinger Four’s set was flawless (or as flawless as a D4 set can be). Full of laughs, sing a longs, and pushing, it was absolutely perfect. I don’t think there was a single moment in their set where there wasn’t a grin on my face that stretched from ear to ear. There’s just something about seeing one of your favorite bands play in the parking lot of one of your favorite drinking establishments (shout out to amazing Grumpy’s staff and were all so great and patient with us drunks yesterday) just a couple miles away from your home.
Can you tell I loved yesterday? Everything about yesterday was great. The music, the booze, the community. I could go on and on about every little detail. The wedding party next door seemed to be enjoying the shenanigans as the looked over us from the balcony of Day Block Brewing next door. At the end of the set Dillinger Four pleaded for the wedding party to bring the bride out. She came out but not until after the band left the stage (probably a blessing) and kissed her husband in front of a rambunctious crowd of punks. If that isn’t a wedding story to tell the kids, I don’t know what is. Also, if that doesn’t show just how amazing this event is year after year, I don’t know what will.
D4th of July will never die. Even with the death of The Triple Rock and the news that Grumpy’s in downtown will be gone in the fall, I’m already looking forward to next year’s fest regardless of where it’s held.