Basilica Block Party returned this past weekend with yet another underwhelming lineup. Hosted by Cities 97, an “Adult Contemporary” iHeartRadio station, BBP is the two-day music festival for those who would not typically attend a music festival- the Lollapalooza of Minneapolis, if you will. The annual lineup is more or less generic music your Aunt Carol listens to. Artists like Gavin Degraw and Brandi Carlile cater to the typical Cities 97 demographic, while they throw in bands like Walk the Moon, and AWOLNATION to draw in the hip, young kids.
Friday night was headlined by Brandi Carlile. The twangy, foot-stompin’, country-rock vocalist continually professed her love for the city of Minneapolis and although it was most likely pandering, the audience ate it up. Her powerhouse vocals shined throughout the second half of her set, with her 2007 single, “The Story,” wowing the mature crowd. Carlile also played through tasteful covers of “Folsom Prison Blues” by Johnny Cash, “Going to California” by Led Zepplin, and concluded her set with an emotional rendition of “Mad World” by Tears For Fears.
Longtime alt-rocker, Andrew McMahon had a surprisingly early set on the smaller Preferred One Stage. McMahon opened his set with his 2016 single, “Fire Escape,” followed by “Canyon Moon,” “High Dive” and other Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness songs. He took a break from newer music to play “Dark Blue,” a 2005 classic from his former band, Jack’s Mannequin. McMahon took to the crowd atop an inflatable duck to perform his song “Don’t Speak For Me,” which was by far the most impressive stunt of the weekend. He finished his set with “Cecilia and the Satellite,” a touching song about his love for his daughter.
The Shins closed out the Preferred One stage on Friday. Their performance paled in comparison to McMahon’s, but they still drew a sizable audience. The New Mexico natives played through their eighteen-song setlist including “Caring Is Creepy,” “Australia,” and “New Slang,” and while they sounded fine, their lackluster stage presence was not exactly the energy level expected for a headline act.
The second day of Basilica Block Party brought in more exciting bands like Enemy Planes, Walk Off The Earth, AWOLNATION, and Walk The Moon.
Walk Off The Earth found their start on YouTube by posting quirky covers of Top 40 pop songs, many of which went viral. The quintet, with very pregnant frontwoman Sarah Blackwood, opened with their mashup cover of Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” and Blackstreet’s “No Diggity.” Featuring an abundance of unorthodox instruments and multiple harmonies, Walk Off The Earth played a unique set of covers and original songs concluding with their “5 Peeps One Guitar” medly, which was one of their first videos to put them on the map.
The black sheep of the lineup, AWOLNATION, had a relatively short set which unfortunately overlapped with the main stage headliner of the night, Walk The Moon. The California quartet packed as much energy as they possibly could in to thirteen songs including “Hollow Moon,” “Woman Woman,” Bruce Springsteen cover “I’m on Fire,” and their 2011 smash hit, “Sail.” Their harder rock sound drew in the rowdiest crowd which possibly made them the best set of the weekend.
Cincinnati pop group, Walk The Moon, concluded the festival with their first show back in Minnesota in over two years; their long-awaited performance did not disappoint. The four walked out to The Lion King’s “Circle of Life,” and jumped straight in to their climactic song, “Up 2 U.” Their set bounced between 2014 album, TALKING IS HARD, and their 2012 self-titled LP, with two new songs “In My Mind” and “Headphones.” Fans responded well to the new music, but really came alive during everyone’s favorite wedding reception song, “Shut Up and Dance.” Walk The Moon closed their set with an old fan favorite, “Anna Sun;” the positive vibes were the perfect end to a less than perfect weekend.
Although Basilica Block Party may not be the most exciting festival in Minnesota, Cities 97 does an incredible job running a smooth event on such a large scale. And you get enough free Preferred One coozies to last a lifetime.