MN Music On-a-Stick at Minnesota State Fair, 8/30/14

Categories: Last Night
Photo by Tony Nelson

MN Music On-a-Stick
with Cactus Blossoms, Har Mar Superstar, Cloud Cult, Bob Mould, Doomtree, and Brother Ali
Minnesota State Fair Grandstand, St. Paul
Saturday, August 30

You can always count on the Current to keep you on your toes. At their third annual takeover of the State Fair Grandstand, 89.3 put together in a lineup of genre-spanning Minnesota acts. Every artist took the night in a different direction, and each one -- from Brother Ali to Bob Mould -- seemed to have a cadre of fans who were there mostly for them.

Photo by Tony Nelson

The Cactus Blossoms started off the late summer afternoon with an appropriately cool set. The band seemed relaxed on stage, moving through classic country sounds like breeze through wheat. It seemed like basic, solid country-western, but there were a few subtle twists on convention -- like "Please Don't Sneak Around," where the perennial villain of the genre, the two-timing snake, finally gets a ballad, urging his beloved not to cheat him like she's cheating her man. "Change Your Ways Or Die," a Current staple, earned a few appreciative whoops for the lively steel guitar work. The boys held it down, and didn't break a sweat, though that might have livened things up a bit.

Photo by Tony Nelson

Har Mar Superstar took the stage next, offering a set that was in many ways the opposite of Cactus Blossoms' musically tight and straight-laced experience. He started off wearing a colorful shawl over low-rise white jeans, and led the crowd in chants of "Har Mar is so sexy" and other odes to his own steez. The whole show was rough and dirty, and it took a few songs for the band to dial it in. "Prisoner," and the driving funk of its backing synth, seemed to do the trick, with Har Mar and guest vocalist Lizzo digging into the groove. The duo broke it all the way down on "Power Lunch," with Lizzo taking the spotlight and sexing up business jargon. By the time "Restless Leg" rolled through, Har Mar was all the way into it, and he closed the set as the fully warped, shirtless, head-standing take on a soul idol we've come to expect.

Photo by Tony Nelson

Cloud Cult, who have been played the Current daily for its whole run, brought a huge crowd down to the standing room of the Grandstand, hoping to catch some of the vibes. A surface-level description of the experimental Duluth band makes them seem much weirder than they are in reality. Painters on stage, cellos, recordings from space flights and accounts of near-death experiences -- all sounds like some avant guard stuff. When they play live, however, the most driving sound is the drum beat, and the band works on the strength of building cohesive triumphant music that moves forward emotionally loaded lyrics. And does Cloud Cult ever move forward.

"You'll Be Bright" started with the whole band banging out one beat on one drum, gradually breaking off to their respective instruments or canvasses. After, Craig Minowa thanked the audience and shared some sad news from his life -- his family had just put has father, who has ALS, in an assisted care facility. "There's no cure right now," he said, "but we can get one." They would have done an ice bucket challenge on stage if it was safe to. In lieu of that, Minowa lead "Transistor Radio," a song dedicated to his grandfather, who died of ALS. The song, like most of their catalog, deals with a lot of big themes -- life, universe and everything. Their fans seemed more than happy to come along on the trip.

Location Info


Minnesota State Fair Grandstand

1265 Snelling Ave. N., St. Paul, MN

Category: General

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