Two beloved Minnesota institutions – the Twins and the Flamin’ Oh’s – teamed up Wednesday afternoon at Target Field as part of the team’s ongoing Midwest Music Showcase series, in which local bands perform as the crowd enters the stadium and between innings and during pitching changes.
Sponsored by the Pohlad-owned Go 96.3, and curated by Go deejays Jason Nagel and Peter Johns, the series has attracted such acts as the Magnolias, Pennyroyal, Dan Israel, P.O.S., Mark Mallman, the Oddfathers, Tina and the B Sides, and the Cactus Blossoms, with forthcoming appearances by Charlie Parr, the Stress Of Her Regard, and more slated for this summer.
“It’s a blast,” said keyboardist Bob Burns, after the Oh’s played two songs from their forthcoming EP (“Be Still My Heart” and “Too Much Fun”), and their pop-rock classic “I Remember Romance” as the crowd of 29,289 moved through the turnstiles. “It doesn’t get much better than this,” said ‘Oh’s founder Robert Wilkinson, on a cloudy summer day that proved perfect for baseball (Twins won 5-3, sweeping the Baltimore Orioles) and rock & roll:
Terry Isachsen, Bob Burns, Robert Wilkinson, Jenny Case, Sean Sauder.
“It’s awesome; I’ve never done anything like this,” said Robert Wilkinson, who was accompanied by friends and family for the occasion. “I’ve been to stadium shows but I’ve never played here. You step out on this balcony and what a view, huh? It’s a great vibe, great energy, and we’re really happy to be here. Really proud and really honored. It’s a beautiful summer day and it doesn’t get much better than this. It’s all love, man. I don’t follow sports too much, but you can see I’m wearing a Vote Dozier shirt, so I’m showing some love.”
“Soundcheck was at 9:15 this morning, and I must say that rock and rolling in the AM is a different story,” said guitarist Terry Isachsen. “Your biological rock and roll clock gets thrown, but you try and rise to the occasion. Every time you see your face on the Jumbotron, you figure you better do something, so you do a windmill whether the song requires it or not.”
“It was great seeing Robert on the Jumbotron, jumping with his guitar,” said bassist Jenny Case. “I am not a baseball fan; I don’t know anything about sports. I do know more than Robert, though. And I did go to the 1987 parade when they won the World Series because my 6th grade class went. That’s the last time I’ve been to anything baseball (related).”
“Whether or not they want to hear the Flamin’ Oh’s is kind of beside the point; they’re gonna,” said Bob Burns. “It’s a great opportunity, and I’m sure there’s some people who are going, ‘Are they still alive?’ It’s like, ‘Yeah, we are. And we still play.’ I’m not a baseball fan, but [my wife] Beth is. She had to tell me what I was doing today: ‘OK, the first team has to get three outs. You know what an out is, right?’ ‘Yeah, I know what an out is.’ ‘OK, that’s when you play next.’ ”
“The Midwest Music Showcase series started in earnest in 2013 with a full series of nine bands, we expanded it last year to ten bands and this year we’ve got 12 bands,” said the Twins’ Chris Iles. “It got started when Trampled By Turtles reached out to us on Twitter when the team wasn’t playing that well, and they said, ‘Hey guys, it’s OK; we’ll come play in the clubhouse for you,’ and I reached back out to them and said, ‘Why play in the clubhouse when you can play in front of the whole stadium?’ So they were the first band here, back in 2012.
“That’s how we got the idea.
“There are a lot of casual (local music) fans here who may or may not like the bands we have, but as they walk into the stadium it adds an element. You can tell it’s live music going on whether you’re a music fan or not. Especially as people are coming in; it just makes it feel like more of a party, and it’s helped moved some tickets, too.
“I think it’d be cool to have Howler out here. They’re really cool, and I’d love to have them out here. Actual Wolf would play pretty good out here. As long as it’s got an energy with it, that goes along well with baseball.”
“Watching P.O.S. and Astronautalis do “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” was a big-time highlight,” said Nagel. “I remember that Dan Israel told me that when he was playing, [Twins third baseman] Trevor Plouffe was dancing and he gave him the thumbs-up.”
“There are a lot of teams that do post-game concerts with bigger national acts, but we’re the only team I know of that brings in the real local flavor – of course, we’re lucky to have a strong local music scene here – and make it part of the game presentation,” said Iles. “We do it every Wednesday, and that corresponds with our student day and our dollar hot dog day.”
“We’re all looking for ways to connect with community,” said Wilkinson, who reminded the crowd before their last song that Flamin’ Oh’s next gig is Saturday night at Famous Dave’s in Uptown.
“This is a great thing: the sports community connects with the arts community and we create some great loving vibes and great music and it’s just another reason why this city is so great. We are really interconnected with each other, and this is a great way to do it.”