This year’s Basilica Block Party has less of a local angle than in years past, but ultimately a more compelling roster of acts on hand over the next two nights. The full schedule is here.
If you have to choose, tonight’s lineup is the better bet. I’ve never been thoroughly charmed by Weezer’s so-called “nerd rock,” which has always felt calibrated (90 percent of rock lyricists are dyed-in-wool geeks), so I haven’t felt as betrayed by their apparent missteps recently. But the band has a way with pop hooks and enough community-gathering cult hits to make this a fun, energetic show under the stars on the Sun Country Stage.
Here is a video for one of Weezer’s recent singles, an overt tribute to Cheap Trick.
But there’s a superior band playing at almost exactly the same time (only 15 minutes doesn’t overlap) on the M&Ms Stage — Spoon. With the release of “Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga” three years ago, the Austin-based quartet achieved, contrary to its juvenile title, a near-perfect mix of angular pop music and cerebral quirks in its texture and subject matter. Their latest, “Transference,” leans too much on the quirks and personality of frontman Britt Daniel, but again, those sorts of quibbles melt away in front of an enthusiastic crowd on a summer night.
I’d stick with the M&Ms Stage all Friday night. The underrated local singer-songwriter Chris Koza has a solid band, Rogue Valley, that goes on for an hour at 6:05, followed by the soulful vocals and B-3 organ work of Grace Potter, leading her band The Nocturnals. That trumps pretty-boy Eric Hutchinson over on the Sun Country Stage.
On Saturday night, the clear-cut must-see act is the Avett Brothers. I previewed their First Avenue show back in March for MinnPost here and am happy to report that they wowed and charmed a capacity crowd with a wonderfully ragged mixture of daft, homespun Americana and jam-band-ish technical prowess. If you are new to their party and plan on attending the second night at the Basilica, by all means forsake the Barenaked Ladies, who were overly frivolous and played-out even before co-leader Steven Page was booted from the group.
Here are the Avetts performing “The Perfect Space” from that First Avenue gig.
The Basilica Block Party, on the Basilica grounds in Minneapolis, tonight and Saturday night, July 9 and 10. Tickets are $45 per night, or $80 for both nights.