Sunday, July 13, 2008

Basilica Block Party

Here in Minneapolis, we have this annual music festival called the Basilica Block Party. It takes place at the Basilica of Saint Mary and consists of three total stages that highlight music groups over the course of just 2 days. Most of the Basilica workers are volunteers, and pretty much every stand gives out free samples of something, so at the very least, you'll have a good time collecting stuff (or simply experiencing- I got a free massage).

Unfortch, I was only able to make it to Day 2, so I didn't catch the bands that played the previous day (such as Augustana, OneRepublic, or Ziggy Marley). However, my friends and I did zag about the block party and I managed to hear White Light Riot, Landon Pigg, Test Your Reflex, Missy Higgins and Gin Blossoms, so I'll do my best to cover each one without making this post exceedingly long.

First up, White Light Riot. I was eager to finally hear this band live as I had briefly encountered one of their band members, Joe, at Macalester College, where we both went. I had heard their stuff on their website, thought it was great, and wondered how it would translate in a live setting. It was just as wonderfully rocker-clean as I had hoped. You could actually hear what the music was doing instead of it echoing out into oblivion like I had experienced some rock groups do before. Their sound is vibrant, energetic and reminiscent of Brit-pop with an indie twist, and their songs are laced with little catchy hooks for fans to grab on to. WLR played a decent set of songs and closed on what I would call their most known song, Out of Sight, which I thought was a great song to end on. They drew a crowd of 18-22 year olds and even had some old people dancing. My friend turned to me at one point and said, "They're kinda like OK Go." I'd s ay that's pretty fair, but check them out for yourself:

Out Of Sight by White Light Riot [mp3]

After WLR finished up, my group and I headed over to another stage to check out Landon Pigg. I'm so glad we did. An acoustic guitar sound was just what I needed after my head had been filled with WLR upbeat catchy electric uproar. The first song I heard Landon Pigg singing was a song about love - Landon Pigg said himself that he was riding on the plane and saw an old couple and wondered exactly what is it that makes love last when the beauty has faded away. For the life of me, I can't find the song or what its called, leading me to believe it was something new, but it was great. If anyone who reads this blog was there/ know what song I'm taking about, let me know in the comments section! Although I wasn't able to stay for his whole set, I heard enough to know I liked him. He was like a nice blend of OneRepublic and Greg Laswell. Acoustic guitars well blended with melodious tunes and truthful lyrics.

Falling In Love At A Coffee Shop by Landon Pigg [mp3]

Test Your Reflex is another indie rock band that utilizes effects to make their music sound larger than it really is- there is definitely a shadowy element to it. It's almost as if they've managed to find a way to incorporate the actual essence of drama into their music. They put on a great show and I found myself drawn in simply by the need to watch them. Like their songs, they emit a stylish underground vibe and their songs have a great range from strong and dramatic to popish-danceable. The crowd loved them and although I personally had never heard of them before, most of the people around me were singing along and cheering loudly. Since I'm all about the comparisons lately, I'll say that they sounded like the crazy love child of Switchfoot and Franz Ferdinand. Check out their official website here to check them out further.

It was time for Australian Missy Higgins to take the stage- and did she ever. She was funny, spunky, sweet, personable and generally amazing. By far, Missy drew the biggest crowd of anyone that night. She belted out Secret to start things off and performed well known songs such as Ten Days, Peachy, Where I Stood, and This is How It Goes, while giving little antidotes in between songs. At one point, she had a bit of a keyboard malfunction during Where I Stood and ended up improvising delightful piano tunes as she awaited the tech guys. Her band members were equally wonderful and they often smiled as they reached a part of a song that they obviously enjoyed, which only made me enjoy the concert all the more. Missy's voice is absolutely stunning live- she has fantastic control and unbelievable pitch with every note. Her set was far to short, in my opinion, and after her band walked off the stage a chant of "One More Song!" was raised. Sadly, the Cities97 people (who host the event) came on stage to plug their benefactors and the like so the audience began to dissipate, but still quite happy and

uplifted. Missy came out on the side of the stage behind the fence to chat with some fans and take pictures, and I overheard someone asking her about her story behind the fantastic and easily my favorite song Forgive Me. From what I heard, Missy is quite reluctant to reveal the personal stories behind her songs, but did say she wrote it while in a relationship and it was about fidelity. Again, that's one of the reasons I love Missy Higgin's songs- they are written with full emotion, based on experienced that are too personal to describe unless through song. Her concert was great and I certainly suggest trying to catch her when she comes to your town.

Where I Stood by Missy Higgins [mp3]
Forgive Me by Missy Higgins [mp3]

By the time Gin Blossoms performed, my camera had run out of batteries so I wasn't able to capture them on film. Since they were the last band to play, everyone from the various stages eventually made their way to the Gin Blossoms so it was quite packed. I'm not the biggest Gin Blossoms fan, but the show that they put on was fun and light. It was the kind of concert you could sit on the grass and chat with the person next to you and every now and again stop to listen to the band, which is exactly what I did. When we left, they were finally getting around to their most famous song, Jealousy, and everyone in my group agreed that they really should've played that song closer to the beginning of the set list rather towards the end.

All in all, Day 2 of the Basilica Block Party was most enjoyable. I heard new bands and finally got to see others in concert. If you're ever in Minneapolis during July, I highly recommend you stop by and listen. To check out more pictures from the event, click here.

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