Red Stag Block Party, 8/5/12

Categories: Last Night
The Honeydogs Red Stag 2.jpg
Photo By Kyle Matteson
See Also:
Chastity Brown on the Red Stag Block Party, her residency in Germany, and the local music scene
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Red Stag Block Party
Featuring Rogue Valley, Kill The Vultures, The Honeydogs, Mayda, Chastity Brown, and Romantica
The Red Stag Supper Club, Minneapolis
August 5, 2012

The organizers for this year's Red Stag Block Party could not have asked for better weather for their day-long music/food/drink festival on Sunday, and everyone took full advantage of the glorious day by packing the grounds throughout the festivities. The music lineup featured an eclectic mix of talented local bands who all seemed energized by the perfect afternoon and the large turnout, and rose to the occasion by delivering energetic sets that only augmented the open, welcoming vibe of the Block Party itself.

Romantica were the second band on the bill, and got things going strongly in the mid-afternoon sun. The quartet was expanded to include frontman Ben Kyle's sister-in-law Jayanthi on backing vocals, and she added a soulful, spirited undertone to Romantica's more plaintive, countrified Americana numbers. The first three songs in their strong set were all from their 2007 album, America, and they all soared, with "Queen Of Hearts," "I Need You Tonight," and a tender version of "The National Side" (which Kyle said he wrote for his Mom, who was, appropriately enough, an Olympic athlete) all clearly resonated with the growing crowd.

Romantica 1.jpg
Photo By Kyle Matteson

After a couple of odes to overcoming isolation, "Lonely Star," and "Your Lonely Heart," Romatica busted out a brand new track, "Let There Be Mercy," which bassist Tony Zaccardi announced would be part of a long-awaited new album that the band will be celebrating with a CD Release show at the Cedar Cultural Center on September 11. The set closed with a stirring, countrified cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," which brought the performance to an impassioned conclusion.

Chastity Red Stag.jpg
Photo By Kyle Matteson

Chastity Brown followed with a rich, bluesy half-hour set that showcased her burgeoning talent as well as those of her skilled three-piece backing band. Brown's all-too-brief performance drew mainly from her excellent new record, Back-Road Highways, with Chasity switching from acoustic guitar to steel banjo towards the end of the performance. The captivating set became unforgettable during the anthemic, spiritual closing track, "After You," which turned into a lively singalong with the crowd and surely stopped everyone in their tracks as the poignant song truly hit home.

Mayda was next, and she took to the stage sporting a colorful pink wig which gave the start of her set a playful tone. But when she started getting into her music, she lost the wig, joking, "My head fell off. That's OK, it's actually my pet." Backed by only a DJ and a duo of dancers who gave the performance some lively visuals, Mayda delivered a distinctly Prince-like version of "Sylvia" which got the crowd moving along to her sprightly guitar riffs. "Rubies" was another dynamic highlight of the set, and highlighted the boundless charisma of Mayda and the unshakable vibrancy of her songs.

The Honeydogs brought a lively kick (and some truly special guests) to their early evening set, which drew mainly from their excellent 2012 release, What Comes After. And that was just fine for everyone in the swelling crowd, as the title track and "Aubben" both soared towards the fine summer sky. After a rollicking version of "Particles Or Waves," frontman Adam Levy introduced his two daughters, Ester and Ava, to sing backing vocals on the Beatles-esque "Always A Long Time." 

Honeydogs Red Stag 1.jpg
Photo By Kyle Matteson

Levy joked about the girls' flourishing musical talents, "I'm about ready to let them start their own band, as long as I can be the Reuben Kincaid," referring to the manager who helped make the Partridge Family famous. After a buoyant rendition of "Better Word," Levy quietly stated, "Here's a song about my son," before leading the band through a tender, Latin-flavored run through of "Truth Serum." The song featured a euphoric, hopeful coda that helped bring a positive finish to a track with decidedly mournful undertones. A boisterous version of "Devil We Do," and a Squeeze-like "Fighting Weight" closed out the Honeydogs' emphatic set, one which left everyone smiling.

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