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Summer Skolstice, The Nicest Festival Nobody Attended

Elle King, Summer Skolstice, Photo by Travis Meier, Summer Festival, TCO Field
Elle King performing at Summer Skolstice Photo By Travis Meier

The longest day of the year official ushers in the start of summer, which means summer concert series is in full swing. The Minnesota Vikings leaped into the festival business with Summer Skolstice, a 3-day festival at TCO Stadium, their new training facility, presented by Viking Lakes.

First off, the facility is impressive. It rises out of farmscape like something dropped randomly by an extraterrestrial force. Approaching from afar you are greeted by the logos of Twin City Orthopedics and Vikings.

As you get closer, the full-scale structure slowly unveils itself. It’s reminiscent of something out of Jurassic Park, except without the dinosaurs. The amount of glass, concrete, and gates is impressive but also an annoyance, as it prevents moveability throughout the complex.

TCO Stadium itself is the best outdoor music venue I have ever experienced. The stadium itself can fit 5,000-6,000 and the field was transformed into a music watching paradise. It had something for every kind of concert-goer, from a grassy knoll for blanket watchers to a private chair in the VIP section.

Plus they had three enormous jumbotrons you could watch the concert from, two on the sides and one major one overhead. No matter your angle you could not miss any action. Unlike the engineers at the “Sandcrawler” (US Bank Stadium), they took acoustics into consideration. You will never miss lyrics, no matter where in the stadium you are.

Be careful while walking somewhere though. The amount of security was like something you’d see in mainland China. Constantly being reminded to not use certain stairs or not being able to lean somewhere became a ring-around-the-rosy style annoyance. 

TCO Stadium, Photo by Travis Meier, Crowd during Summer Skolstice
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TCO Stadium attendance high during Summer Skolstice

The festival had some great classic acts, each night having its own theme. The first night was classic rock, featuring The Family Stone, Tommy Tutone, and Rick Springfield. That was Thursday, and it drew the largest crowd of the three-night event. The majority on Thursday were middle-aged women hoping to be hit with a Rick Springfield-climax giving stare.

The Family Stone began the night with their coordinated purple look and major rock classics. One of the original members is even still playing in the band.

Next up was Tommy Tutone! He played for a total of 20 minutes…yup…roughly six songs. I was a bit confused, like the rest of the crowd, after he finished so quickly. At least he played 867-5309. The whole festival on the first night was way ahead of schedule.

The Family Stone, Summer Skolstice, Photo by Travis Meier, Summer Festival, TCO Field
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The Family Stone performing at Summer Skolstice

Luckily, it was a very short intermission, because Rick Springfield and Tommy used the same house band. For nearly 70 years old Rick can still move. He moved around the stage, blasting some of his favorite hits, often with crowd involvement.

Rick Springfield, Summer Skolstice, Photo by Travis Meier, Summer Festival, TCO Field
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Rick Springfield performing at Summer Skolstice

For “Don’t Talk to Strangers” he and stopped at the chorus, kept the beat going, and threw a microphone into the crowd to see if anyone could sing the chorus with him. Minnesota…we greatly disappointed him! Out of the 20-person sample, he only found one worthy singer.

He soon retrieved his mic and wrapped up the song before starting “Human Touch.” Again he got the crowd involved,  this time by entering it. It’s impressive that he was still able to sing while being swarmed by a shoal of piranha-like middle-aged women.

Rick Springfield, Summer Skolstice, Photo by Travis Meier, Summer Festival, TCO Field
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Rick Springfield performing at Summer Skolstice

Returning to the stage, with all limbs attached, he paid respect to Eddie Money. Eddie has to miss the festival due to a minor heart surgery but that didn’t stop Rick from sending a video. He got the crowd to scream “feel better Eddie.”

Rick eventually played a medley of hit songs and with a little help from Tommy as a special guest guitarist. He corrected the crowd by noting that he wrote “Jesse’s Girl,” not “867-5309.” It seems to be a common musical fan error. They ended the first night of the Skolstice with a full rendition of “Jesse’s Girl” a full thirty-five minutes early.

Tommy Tutone, Summer Skolstice, Photo by Travis Meier, Summer Festival, TCO Field
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Tommy Tutone performing at Summer Skolstice

The second night was lady’s funk and folk night, which brought the likes of brought of Sheila E., Joss Stone, and Elle King. All performers sounded better than ever, with Sheila E. showing off percussion skills and Elle King reminding us about our Ex’s and Ohs. The women owned the night, covering a completely different genre than the night before.

Elle King, Summer Skolstice, Photo by Travis Meier, Summer Festival, TCO Field
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Elle King performing at Summer Skolstice

The third and final night was about funk and soul, including The Minneapolis Funk All-Stars, Judith Hill, and St. Paul and the Broken Bones. Each band brought their own style of funk to the stage, plus we got to watch a set with two different lead singers named St. Paul.

St. Paul Peterson, the lead singer and guitarist for the all-stars, started the night off by showing some of the best talents in the Twin Cities. He played some classics from his time with Morris Day and The Time, reminding us that we have some incredible local talent.

Next up was Judith Hill, who blew the crowd away with her voice, piano, and guitar skills in heels that resembled a stair master. Keeping the energy up to an even smaller crowd than the night before, she paid tribute to Prince, who helped produce a song for her, spreading the message of love to everyone to close things out.

Judith Hill, Summer Skolstice, Photo by Travis Meier, Summer Festival, TCO Field
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Judith Hill performing at Summer Skolstice

The final performer of the Skoalstice was St. Paul and the Broken Bones. Stepping out on stage, St. Paul wore a more Pride-friendly version of Men of Night’s Watch cloak from Game of Thrones. He worked through his hits with a 9-piece band that touched all corners of the soulful funky universe to close out first ever Summer Skoalstice.

St. Paul and The Broken Bones, Summer Skolstice, Photo by Travis Meier, Summer Festival, TCO Field
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St. Paul and The Broken Bones performing at Summer Skolstice

The festival had all the inner workings of success. The venue was excellent and featured solid music selection, visual, and acoustics. The steep ticket prices of $45 for GA or $100 for VIP per night doomed the festival before it started, however. Lack of advertising, unpredictable music schedule, and the unwelcoming vibe of the facility cemented it in failed festival history. 

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