Pizza Lucé Block Party rocks downtown Minneapolis – 8/6/2016


The 13th annual Pizza Lucé (4th year in its new downtown location) and as usual enticed party goers not only with great food and drinks but also a great musical lineup. This year’s party benefited The School of Rock St Paul, a local youth music education center.

The weather gods smiled upon this noble endeavor with pleasant temperatures and a few clouds. This being a free event, the crowd drifted in and out to catch performers they wanted to see with the headliners packing the repurposed parking lot. It was well organized with short lines, very reasonable prices and something for everyone. Even with 10 bands on the roster stage changes went quickly and the headliner started (almost) on time. It was fun to watch the wide range of local musicians mingle and have a great time backstage.

A band by the School of Rock opened the set. We only caught the last couple of songs. They sounded great and I expect we will see many of the performers on stages around the Twin Cities in the future.

Marah in the Mainsail describe themselves as Cinematic Alt-folk and they bring an eclectic mix of instruments includes a rusty heavy chain as part of their percussion. Their set included the debut of a new song “Forest Fire” inspired by the Canadian forest fires smoke from which drifted down to the Twin Cities earlier this year.

Megan Hamilton and The Bermudas are a really cool mix of A DJ supported by a funk band. Hamilton claims the title of “Ghetto Funk’s official U.S. ambassador” and the setlist included “Respect”, “Superstitious” and of course Wild Cherry’s “Play that Funky Music” augmented by modern technology. Overall a fun and entertaining set.

Charlie Parr brought a dramatic change of pace and a change of crowd as well. Gone was the complex setup; 2 guys, 2 chairs, 1 guitar and one washboard played by Mikkel Beckmen (who was working on a number of gigs, so I guess washboard is having a bit of a revival as on instrument). Parr is the textbook example of a blues singer, basically traveling and living for his music and his popularity is easily explained listening to him.

Sean Anonymous took the stage next and his energy jumpstarted the audience. His new album “Better Days” was just release and he played several songs from it but also freestyled to audience request, so a rap featuring Pizza, Freedom and Pokemon came to be. He also brought several collaborators on stage. Overall well received set.

My liking Bruise Violet is no secret – just ask my daughters who get subjected to sudden blasts their songs coming out of my office. Each time I have seen them play, they go all out, no holds barred. They gave a huge shout out to their alma mater, The School of Rock St Paul. “We are Veterans of the School of Rock! We fought the war of Rock!” They have never been wallflowers but it’s impressive how their stage presence has grown over the past months.

Another personal Favorite Holidae was up next. Ashley Gold and Garrett Neal blew me away at their CD release at the Icehouse and every time I have caught them since them, I found myself with a grin on my face during their set. I was curious to see how their show would hold up on daylight as they use pretty heavy light effects. I am happy to report, it works. Gold’s aura works as well in sunshine as it does under (well above) LED lights. Augmented by a percussionist they premiered a new song “Miles Away” for the first time live. I enjoyed it, especially the very catchy intro.

Carnage and the Last Band (the full band moniker of Carnage the Executioner) changed the vibe at the block party yet again. “For those of you that don’t know me. I might be your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper.” set the tune. His current album is “MN Mean” and he closed his set with “Thank you for listening to REAL Hip Hop”

Run Westy Run was one of the bright lights of the MN music scene in the 80s but never had quite the commercial success of some of the other bands coming out of that era. After talking to Tommy Stinson about his plans to reunite The Replacements, Kraig Johnson got the inspiration to put Westy back together and the rest is history. Their set was a throwback to that time. The band sounded tight and their show was lively.

Lizzo was headlining the evening backed up by Sophia Eris and her dancers. She was in a great mood, chatty, putting the “good looking” crowd on snapchat and seemed to have a great time. Befitting her status as a star, there was actually security in the pit, although I was suspecting them to be dancers at one point. Seeing her backed by the Minneapolis skyline playing to thousands to people undermined her status as the breakout star of the year.