The X Games are back! A variety of competitions officially began on Thursday night, and the world of extreme sports is ready to take over the entire city of Minneapolis once again!
Along with the sports portion of X Games, the music side of things also began yesterday. After an incredibly successful inaugural year of musical performances inside downtown Minneapolis’ iconic venue, The Armory, X Games has returned this year.
The concert series for 2019 includes legendary acts such as Wu-Tang Clan & Incubus over the weekend, as well as a sort of “kick-off” event with SWMRS & Chevy Metal there on Thursday night, similar to Prof’s performance at First Avenue for X Games 2018.
Along with the performances on Thursday, a new addition for this year was the Pacifico BMX Vert & Skateboard Vert competitions, which took place on a vert ramp located inside the music venue. In years past, the music and sports portions of X Games felt very far apart, and at times almost completely separate. However, at Thursday’s event at The Armory, the vert competitions alternated with the musical performances, tying the entire event together better than ever before.
Unfortunately, the combination of on-site sports competition and live music didn’t exactly entice the masses, as the crowds were a bit light for the event on Thursday. Although we weren’t in danger of shattering any attendance records, the athletes and artists both put on incredible performances, and the crowd inside The Armory loved it.
Things began with the Pacifico BMX Vert competition, something I legitimately never expected to witness inside The Armory. Even during the warm-ups, the crowd was going nuts after every run. With some of the things they were pulling off, you could tell we were in for a really competitive event.
After stealing the BMX Vert throne from legend Jamie Bestwick in 2017, Vince Byron entered the competition looking to become only the third athlete in X Games history to win three consecutive gold medals. The youngest in the field at 29, Byron was trailing Jamie Bestwick after he laid down an impressive first run to move into the top spot.
However, in the final run of the competition, it was Byron who once again proved his dominance with a run highlighted by a downside tailwhip to superman seat grab Indian air and a 540 flair cork 900. Bestwick took second place and Mykel Larrin once again took the bronze medal.
Taking the stage right after the BMX Vert competition was on the other side of The Armory was SWMRS. The Oakland-formed quartet of Cole Becker, Max Becker, Joey Armstrong, and Seb Mueller started playing shows in the local Bay Area at the ripe age of 13, and in 2016 put out their first record, Drive North, on their own imprint, Uncool Records.
After the release of their debut album, they became the first unsigned band to perform on The Late Late Show With James Corden, and their music reached as far as Paris Fashion Week on the Saint Laurent runway. Now signed with Fueled By Ramen, the band released their latest album, Berkeley’s On Fire, earlier this year.
As I said earlier, SWMRS, unfortunately, didn’t have a very large crowd to perform to, but some of their performance was aired during ESPN’s broadcast of the Skateboard Vert competition later in the evening, so they certainly gave it everything they had.
I’m actually a big fan of SWMRS and caught them a few years back opening for FIDLAR at Varsity Theater. They’re set was really solid, and they definitely didn’t let the small crowd kill their mood, but it’s a bit of a shame more people didn’t come out to support.
Next up was the Pacifico Skateboard Vert competition, which was slightly delayed until the Moto X Step-Up competition over at US Bank Stadium could wrap up. The two opening-round “jams” ended up being a little more exciting than the final medal rounds, but the competition was fierce nonetheless.
Jimmy Wilkins defended his gold, the third of his X Games career. In the new jam format, fans saw an impressive bag of tricks from Jimmy Wilkins. However, it was Mitchie Brusco’s 900 which might have won the best trick of the night and earned him silver. Clay Kreiner rounded out the podium with a bronze, his first X Games Vert medal.
Of course, wrapping up the night was Chevy Metal, led by Foo Fighters drummer, Taylor Hawkins. Hawkins has been drumming with the Foo Fighters since 1997, and to achieve that type of longevity, the Foo Fighters don’t spend 365 days a year on the road or recording. They take the necessary downtime to keep motivated, and therein lies the origin of Chevy Metal.
Hawkins, joined by Wiley Hodgden on bass/vocals as well as a revolving cast of characters, is Chevy Metal. And Chevy Metal keeps it straight and simple by playing dirt rock covers from the ’70s with obvious nods to Black Sabbath, Van Halen, Queen, and The Rolling Stones. It’s just the type of downtime that Hawkins was seeking, and this year they’re bringing the party to X Games Minneapolis 2019.
When I was walking over to US Bank Stadium at around 3:00 PM, there were a handful of people already waiting outside The Armory to get in. They had Taylor Hawkins gear on, so you could say some people were excited for them.
Unfortunately, because it was Thursday and I already worked all day, and the show was pushed back a little to allow the skateboard competition to finish, I was only able to catch a glimpse of the performance before I had to get some sleep. From what I could tell, and saw on different social media channels when I got home, the show was great.
I’m sad I didn’t get to catch more, but I’m extremely excited for the remainder of the weekend and will be publishing articles non-stop, recapping everything going on at X Games 2019. So stay tuned!