Lyn Lake Street Festival, 6/8/14

Categories: Last Night
Photo by Mark N. Kartarik

Lyn Lake Street Festival
With Secret Stash Soul Revue, Rogue Valley, Dosh, Toki Wright & Big Cats, Ginkgo, and Ashley Gold
LynLake, Minneapolis
June 8, 2014

The Lyn Lake Street Festival had a success on its hands long before a band even played a note Sunday. The combination of a lovely summer day, scores of neighboring participants in Open Streets, and a diverse, top-notch lineup brought out thousands of good-natured revelers looking to soak in the sun and an afternoon filled with great music. After taking a year off, the Lyn Lake Fest made a grand return and proved just how vital an event the gathering is on the summer calendar.

See also:
Slideshow: Top Dogs of Lyn Lake Street Festival 2014

Following an early set by Adam Levy's kid-friendly band, Bunny Clogs, Ashley Gold and her talented four-piece backing band (featuring Eric Mayson on keys, who would play later with Toki Wright & Big Cats) serenaded the sprawling, sun-drenched crowd with her soulful, passionate songs. Gold offered up a few new tracks from her forthcoming album, as well as a sultry medley featuring snippets of "Cry Me a River," Ginuwine's "Pony" and other classics, which certainly heated things up in the packed parking lot behind the Jungle Theater and Fuji Ya. But of course, the star of the show was always going to be Gold's rich, resonant vocals, which soared in the serene early afternoon, and got the day off to a lovely start.

Photo by Mark N. Kartarik

There was a dual, side-by-side stage setup at the festival, which allowed for one band to set up while another was still playing. Josh Grier's side project, Ginkgo, were up next, and the band played a loose, experimental set that really found the quintet enjoying their day outdoors.

Photo by Mark N. Kartarik

The large crowd was milling about at the various food trucks and beer vendors during much of Ginkgo's performance, so after angling for a warmer reception at the start of the set, the group instead retreated into an insular arrangement that found their songs growing more bold and exploratory as the show went on. Ginkgo tore through most of their lively debut album, Manopause, with Grier amiably bantering between songs, "That was a jazzy number, for those of you who like jazz in the sunshine. This next one is less jazzy, and more razzy." Jake Hanson, Rob Skoro, and Adam Switlick deftly traded off instruments throughout their set, which culminated in a rousing cover of Tame Impala's "Elephant."

Toki Wright and Big Cats have been teasing local music fans with rumors of their collaborative project for a while now, but their forthcoming album now has a title -- Pangaea -- and a release date, September 23. Their set together showcased many of those new tracks, with backing vocals provided by Bomba de Luz's Lydia Liza along with the soulful keys of Eric Mayson. While some of the numbers seemed like they were still coming together in a live setting with Toki experimenting with his rhymes, others had a tight polish that proves just how potent the combination of Big Cats' innovative beats and Wright's socially conscious flow truly is.

Photo by Mark N. Kartarik

Liza's smooth backing vocals gave the tracks a luxurious undertone, while Wright explored themes of love, loss, and finding your way in the world throughout his expressive rhymes. The swelling crowd dutifully came to the front after Wright encouraged them to come closer, and the lively set got the audience moving. Wright even joined the masses toward the end of the dynamic performance, delivering older cuts "More Fiya" and "Higher Ground" from within the crowd, joking that "I don't know how I'm going to get back up on stage now." He eventually found his way, and led the group through an inspiring take on "Pangaea," with its topics of love and unity ringing out loud and true as their set came to a close. The group handed out free CDs after the performance, ensuring that their message and their music will continue to hit home until their full-length comes out in September.

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