One sort of fun thing about working in the music industry is attending events as an attendee that you’ve worked on behind-the-scenes in the past. Generally speaking, members of the media have a much better idea than a normal person about the amount of work it takes to make something like Go 96.3’s ‘Go Fest’ happen, but when you’ve had the opportunity to actually make the event come to life, you have an even clearer understanding.
Something I always admired about Go Radio was their dedication to their listeners. At the end of the day, many radio stations are controlled by unseen board members, pulling strings while focusing on their bottom line without having any understanding of their community or what the members of that community truly want.
Of course, Go Radio is a business just like every other station in the Twin Cities, and their goal is to be profitable, but the people who fill the offices at 420 5th Ave. N in Minneapolis are the exact same people you see working their asses off out at their events. In fact, you can see them at shows and events they aren’t even involved in, because they are fans of music and the amazing artists who call Minnesota home.
I’ll save you from a speech about how underappreciated the people are who make all the incredible events you enjoy attending happen, not only in Minnesota but across the entire country, but know that Minnesota is extremely lucky to have companies such as Go Radio, who put on events we all love attending, like ‘Go Fest’ every single year.
Another great thing about attending these shows as a fan/media member is that I didn’t have to set everything up out in the 85-degree weather all day long! While this year’s Go Fest certainly wasn’t as hot and sweaty as it was last year, afternoon temperatures got pretty close to it, and I was definitely keeping all my friends and former co-workers in mind while I was sitting in my air-conditioned office!
Unfortunately, due to an evacuation of a nearby apartment building because of what appeared to be a fire, which caused a bit of a traffic jam, I arrived at The Cabooze Outdoor Plaza a little later than I planned.
By now we should all be familiar with the Cabooze’s outdoor setup: they shut down the entire block and erect a giant stage in the empty space between their three bars. They only plan a handful of shows on this outdoor plaza each year, Go 96.3’s ‘Go Fest’ and Prof’s ‘Prof Outdoors’ being the main attractions.
I arrived at The Cabooze just as Allan Rayman was wrapping up, which was a bummer because along with many of the Go 96.3 on-air staff, he was the one to which I was most looking forward. The Canadian singer-songwriter has been on my radar for a little over eight months now, mostly because of the people at Go, and have been trying to catch one of his shows for a little while now.
Luckily, a few people snagged some great videos of the performance and I was able to get a glimpse of what I missed out on, but it really only bummed me out more that I missed it. He is definitely on my short-list of artists to see in the near future.
Next up was brother and sister duo Wild Belle, who was the last addition to the Go Fest 19 lineup aside from their ‘Battle of the Bands’ champion The Usual Things, who I’ve seen a few times around the Cities and can say totally kick ass. Wild Belle was the only band of the night I didn’t know much about, so naturally, I was very excited to see what they were all about.
In Go Radio’s press release for the show, they described Wild Belle’s sound as “combining far-reaching global influences like Afro-pop, reggae, and more with an indie-pop sensibility.”
I had absolutely no idea what the hell that meant until I actually saw them perform, and suddenly it all made sense. I’m positive I will not be able to describe it any better than that sentence, so I’m just going to leave it at that. They were really, really fun to watch, and if afro/reggae/indie-pop sounds like an interesting concoction to you, check them out!
After catching up with a few old friends and colleagues, it was time to check out X Ambassadors. I had no idea I was such a big fan of theirs. Unfortunately, I think they’re one of those bands who, when I hear some of their more popular songs, my brain assumes they are actually someone else. Who else, I have no idea, but I knew much more of X Ambassadors setlist than I expected, and I loved it.
Of course, the high point of the entire performance for me was when frontman Sam Harris pulled out his saxophone (see featured image for this article) and hit us with some silky smooth melodies. If you’ve read any of my other articles that happen to feature a saxophone, you’ll know how much I love a good sax solo, and Sam delivered the goods.
Another thing that struck me about their performance was how much fun the band was having up on stage. Similar to the saxophone, you’ll know that one of the most important aspects of any concert, for me, is the band’s ability to command the stage and keep fans not only entertained but engaged.
This comes naturally for all of the members of X Ambassadors. They ended up being my favorite performance of the night, and are also a band that is going to be featured more prominently on my concert radar going forward.
Capping off the night, with the sun setting off in the distance, was Go Fest 19 headliner Catfish and the Bottlemen. Simply put, this band fucking rocks. They’re one of those groups of guys you see walking down the street and just know all four of them are cooler than you’ll ever be, and oh yeah, they also happen to be stupidly talented.
From the second they stepped on stage, a crowd that had been relatively mellow up until that point was absolutely losing it. People were dancing, jumping up and down, bouncing into one another, and screaming the lyrics straight back at lead singer Van McCann.
It was truly an incredible end to yet another impressive night of music brought to you by the folks over at 96.3. From continually being what seems like three steps ahead of the game when it comes to breaking new artists, to then forming personal relationships with those same acts, resulting in once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for their listeners, it’s no wonder Go 96.3 continues to rise up the ranks of Twin Cities radio stations.
Following their usual formula, Go 96.3 didn’t settle for just having a successful night, they proved once again that they truly never stop working when they announced their next Go Show on stage before Catfish and the Bottlemen, an August show at 7th St Entry with Brisbane artist Mallrat.
I’m sure there is already a document floating around the offices listing potential performers for Go Fest 20, and I for one can’t wait to see what everyone over there comes up with to somehow make next year bigger and better.