For the twentieth summer in a row, Minneapolis welcomed the legendary Basilica Block Party in an effort to raise funds to restore the prominent Basilica of Saint Mary. With a particularly enticing line-up this summer, I decided to experience a night with the (rock) gods. Though the night was set up for greatness with its impressive acts, I realized the importance of the connection between a band and its audience.
As I eagerly waited for Motion City Soundtrack, the blazing sun appropriately illuminated the Minneapolis skyline to welcome the hometown band. The alt-rockers burst on to the scene with an array of tracks from their breakout album, Commit This To Memory, in honor of the record’s tenth anniversary. Whipping through “Attractive Today,” “Makeout Kids,” and “L.G. FUAD” with tremendous energy and smiles, the Minnesota band seemed to be feeling right at home. After encouraging a crowd response confirming that everything was alright, frontman Justin Pierre went on to sing a line from ”Time Turned Fragile” that suitably questioned the truth in their reply. “You used to say that you’re just fine, but I still wonder from time to time.” It may be just a line in a song, but as I looked around, I couldn’t help but wonder about the lackluster mob of people around me as well. Nonetheless, Motion City and I had more than enough fun to make up for this lack of enthusiasm in the audience as they went on to play favorites that spanned their discography such as, “Broken Heart,” “Capital H,” and the never-before-played, unreleased track, “Lose Control.”
While Justin Pierre walked home (yes, he jokingly admitted that his house sat mere blocks away) the one and only, Nate Ruess occupied the stage with his backup band, The Band Romantic. After opening up with his solo debut’s intro and “Great Big Storm,” Ruess decided to stick more heavily with his past successes by playing tracks from both his first band, The Format and the better-known Fun. These moments finally managed to get the crowd up off its feet. The talented singer also showed gratitude to the great state of Minnesota with a drawn out thank you and a spot-on cover of Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy.” Despite the musical aptitude shown by the covers, I felt that something was missing. Maybe it was that I couldn’t move past the fact that a man that possesses such a knack for singing and a Grammy under his belt wasn’t brave enough to move forward and attempt to wow the crowd with work of his own. Still, Ruess was able to put on enough of a show to leave me mostly feeling satisfied. After all, I can’t deny it wasn’t a little “fun” attempting the near-impossible notes of “We Are Young.”
With the sun beginning to set, it was time for the Weezer logo to rise. Thankfully this was enough to get the concertgoers excited. An innumerable amount of nerd-rock fans were in heaven when the band trudged through goofy hits like, “Undone (The Sweater Song),” “Hash Pipe,” and “Surf Wax America.” Although I began Weezer’s set feeling repelled by their cheesy lyrics (“I eat my candy with the pork and beans.”) and their mediocre musicianship, I couldn’t help but sing along enthusiastically to “Say It Ain’t So” when it came along later on in their set. This change in mood was all thanks to the good vibes floating around the festival grounds. Though the overall lack of band-audience synergy prevented the first two sets from living up to their full potential, I learned that seeing any band can be an enjoyable experience when they mesh with the audience.