Surly Brewing Company kicked off its beautiful summer concert series in style on Tuesday night with Young the Giant, Milky Chance, and TALK. Sure, being outside was about the last place I wanted to spend my Tuesday night after roasting all weekend in Texas but the Minnesota breeze reminded me that outside isn’t a terrible place everywhere (probably just in Texas, honestly) and had me prepped and ready for what ended up being a beautiful night of music and community.
First, let’s talk about Surly Brewing Company’s Festival Field. I feel like I give a rundown of this place every year so I promise to not go on and on about this place but it truly is a magnificent place to catch a show. With plenty of local food trucks, Surly beer, and space to spread out, this is absolutely one of my favorite places to catch a show in the summer. There’s something just so welcoming about it from the space to the staff to just the vibe of the field. I know that some people still hold a grudge against Surly for some fairly questionable work practices but I really can not stress enough how lovely their grounds are for a show and how well-run and organized said shows are. #endrant. So let’s get into the show!
Kicking things off was Nicholas Durocher (also known as TALK). TALK is a Canadian singer-songwriter but singer-songwriter was not the vibe I got from Nicholas and his band’s set on Tuesday night. With an opening track that seemed to be inspired by Queen to songs that had a more Imagine Dragons vibe to them and others that had an almost Southern rock inspiration, TALK’s music was all over the place and it wasn’t until his second to last song, “Run Away to Mars” that I realized I knew exactly who this was. “Run Away to Mars” went a bit viral on TikTok (but what doesn’t these days, am I right?) and catapulted TALK into a bit of a spotlight that he didn’t quite seem to be ready for but that translated into a sense of charm throughout his set on Tuesday night.
Throughout the performance, Nicholas had moments where he was just being goofy and silly which, at first kind of caught me off guard but, by the end of the set, had me completely enamored by him, his band, and the overall performance. Before the second song even started, Nicholas shared his physical talent by participating in what he called the “Olympic Croc Kick” which, as you may have thought, was literally just him seeing how far he could kick his shoes off into the crowd (although he was quick to explain that he needed them back because size 17 shoes are hard to find). There was a giant belch right into the microphone that made the audience ripple with giggles and the explanation of why you should buy one of his t-shirts (because it has his face on the shirt and he is a sex symbol so therefore you will get laid if you buy a shirt) but it was the way TALK closed out the set with a cover of “School of Rock (Teacher’s Pet)” from, you guessed it, School of Rock. It was a sweet and innocent way to close out the set but there was also something so genuine about the performance. Before jumping into the final track, Nicholas explained that he really wasn’t great at school but always dreamed of going to School of Rock so this was his chance. I think that’s a sentiment that a whole generation of us can relate to and it made me absolutely adore TALK by the time things were said and done.
Full disclosure, I still stand by the fact that Milky Chance’s music isn’t quite my thing but seeing it performed live on Tuesday night had me sold. It’s dance music with an infectious beat and laid-back vocals but also with a twist. Throughout the set, I got a little bit of everything from reggae to jazz to pop to rock and even a “Tainted Love” cover that felt worthy of a dark basement bar in, well, Germany. Although it was still a bit bright out when Milky Chance was playing, there seemed to be an epic light show happening behind the group that just added that special touch to their set. It truly made me wish they had been playing a late-night show just so I could see the lights in all their glory but that just was not in the cards for me. What was in the cards was a set that the entire audience dancing along to the beats whether they knew the songs or not and it led to a beautiful set that breathed life into my exhausted soul.
Walking into the show on Tuesday night, I really didn’t think I knew much about Young the Giant but by the third, fourth, fifth, sixth (you get it) song, I realized I knew who this was and was shocked that I had never put it all together. Young the Giant is one of those bands that has numerous hits and it’s hard to really fathom just how many of them they have until you see them live. From “My Body” to “Cough Syrup”, I found myself involuntarily singing along to the songs that soundtracked my work days during the pandemic when I was really digging that more chill indie rock vibe.
Musically, Young the Giant was flawless on Tuesday night but it was the production-less production that had me absolutely struck by the group. Their show somehow felt like a whole production with a beautiful backdrop and moments of guided meditation that echoed through the speakers between a couple of the songs yet it didn’t feel produced at all. In fact, the show felt super free and organic. I know that that is a complete contradiction but I have no better way of trying to lay it out to you. It left me a bit flabbergasted in all of the right ways.