Friday evening saw the debut of the Surly Brewery as a outdoors concert venue. After the success of Brewfest last summer I was looking forward to see how they would do with a more music focused events. Surly did the smart thing and partnered up with First Avenue and the results were impressive. Lines getting in where never excessive, shorter than expected for beer and food and the set changes happened quickly. Both organizers played it save by limiting the crowd to 5,000. The weather was perfect and parking troubles were easily avoided by using the Green Line. Overall this might turn into the best Twin Cities outdoor venue shortly.
Starting the show was Los Angeles indie band Harriet. The band released their new album “American Appetite” in January. Their alt pop sound fit the sunny afternoon perfectly. After a slow paced start things got more lively with Irish Margaritas. Songs started often with interesting synth intros before vocals kicked in. Their 40 minute set got the crowd off their butts and some even dancing – shocking for Minnesota!
Preservation Hall Jazz Band took the show from alt-pop back to New Orleans Jazz. Since their start in 1963 the group had a large pool of musicians to draw from for a number of different lineups. They are very active touring over 100 days a year. It was my first time seeing this particular form of jazz live, and I enjoyed it more than traditional jazz which I am not a fan of. The crowd seemed to agree with me as there were loud cheers throughout the set. 53 years after playing their first show in the Twin Cities Preservation Hall Jazz Band continued to impress. They closed with a cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Feel it all over” that had the audience singing along.
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros headlined. Promoting their new album “PersonA”. After spending a few moments greeting their fans, the band opened with “Somewhere”. It did not take long for singer Alex Ebert to leave stage and get close to the fans. The bands closeness to their audience was impressive, they took the crowds opinion on what to play next (not sure if their set list just “happened” to match the requests) but it felt genuine and added tot eh connection to the crowd. Ebert does not match your classic rock star image but he certainly had them in a firm grip. For “I don’t wanna pray” they brought Preservation Hall Jazz band back on stage adding their horns to their already impressive sounds. A highlight was when Ebert handed the microphone to a volunteer in the crowd to sing and she turned out to have a heck of a voice. Overall a great show and fans ate it up. Surly ended up feeling a bit like Coachella with a pretty serious hippie vibe from the audience and stage.
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