Summit Backyard Bash with Doomtree, 9/8/12

Categories: Last Night
Photo by Anna Gulbrandsen
Summit Backyard Bash
With Doomtree, Now, Now, Halloween, Alaska, Heartbeats, and Caroline Smith and the Goodnight Sleeps
Summit Brewery, St. Paul
Saturday, September 8, 2012

See Also:
Slideshow: Summit Backyard Bash

"Would you mind clapping, or are you all too drunk for that?" This was an actual request made by the precious pop-punk act Now, Now well into the fourth hour of the Summit Backyard Bash in St. Paul. Indeed, the crowd gathered under a tent fit for a large outdoor wedding, and milling around various beer and food stations was inebriated on this day celebrating the Summit Brewery's 26th anniversary. Come to think of it, the grass underfoot was tipsy, and even the speakers were buzzing, you know?

The sold-out audience -- whether they were there to taste cask brews or admire Mike Mictlan's animal-print pants -- all seemed to gel into a grinning mass of bodies over the course of a beautiful Saturday. The musical portion was up to the task of keeping things flowing even when the beer lines got long.

Photo by Anna Gulbrandsen
The soulful blonde chanteuse Caroline Smith and backing band the Goodnight Sleeps eased everyone into their first suds in the late morning. Her high-necked sweater proved a reminder of the coming of autumn, and the increasingly Oktoberfestian nature of the event did the rest. What proved to be a security-light event made for a comedic bit of navigating for artists throughout the day as they sometimes had to literally shove their way into the backstage area in the tent, and many watched each others' performances. During breaks between bands -- unless the bands breaks between purchasing more beer -- the Hot Pants DJ crew exploded the white tent with funky cuts from James Brown, Freddie Scott, and good ole Rufus "Minneap'lis Minnesota" Lumley.

Photo by Anna Gulbrandsen
The clean-scrubbed Heartbeats, fronted by long-time Summit employee Eric Lovold, intensified the day with an earnest offering of keyboard-enhanced alt-rock with serious leanings towards Wilco's Summerteeth era. The set dabbled in New Wave successfully on their 7" A-side "The Streets," and even got some glam posturing fit in. But, though it was a valiant effort, the bristling cover of the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby" never quite locked into sync.

Photo by Anna Gulbrandsen
Halloween, Alaska -- with the rib-shaking drumming of Dave King and Jamies Diers resplendent vocals at the front -- was exactly the right band to meet the first signs of "Whoa, am I already this sauced?" from the audience. To a gathering of many who had already resorted to holding two beers at once, the swirling moods of Diers provided an intensity that didn't shake anyone's balance too hard. While several of the set pieces dove into ambiance, ample shredding, and texture, spines straightened when the familiar "Empire Waist" broke through.
Photo by Anna Gulbrandsen
The actual odor of beer was finally in the air by the time Now, Now was ready to begin. Mixing tracks from their brilliant Threads from earlier this year and older meditations from when they still had Every Children as the caboose for their name, the trio brought ample hooks to the stage. Banter proved to be flowing too -- "We all look like we're 14," "Any of you guys who didn't watch Halloween, Alaska, you guys fucked up," "I'm a Doomtree virgin" -- between Cacie Dalager's delicate lyrics, Jess Abbott's keening harmonies, and the workmanlike timekeeping from Bradley Hale. "Wolf" is always a personal favorite for its insistent chorus and tempo-shift surprises, and it didn't disappoint.

Photo by Anna Gulbrandsen
Photo by Anna Gulbrandsen
Finally, the Doomtree crew laid into the occasionally stumbling, but otherwise plussed assembly of partiers now spilling out the sides of the tent. This was rapid-fire precision from what is expected to be the last full-group effort for "a while." Aside from the onslaught of "Bangarang," "Little Mercy," "Bolt Cutter," and Sims' "Burn it Down," this was a show that intensified the hunger for P.O.S.'s fourth studio album, We Don't Even Live Here, dropping later this fall. Aside from a literal back-scratching mid-set between Mike Mictlan and Stef, the team is now entirely in step with "Get Down," "Fuck Your Stuff" and the recently unveiled "Bumper." Whether they were peeking under the tent flaps, testing the strength of the barricade, or cutting moves on the sidelines, this was an audience embodying the froth on top of of a cold beer like never before.   

The Crowd: Flannel, stripes, and rosy cheeks.

Random Detail: Star Tribune's Chris Riemenschneider remarked that he got punched during the Doomtree fracas.

Overheard: "Tall dudes love this song!"

Personal Bias: Great event, and should be a yearly addition to the calendar. But, gotta hook up your gluten-averse friends with more than just some food options. Just sayin'.

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