This past Wednesday morning, Prince and 3rdEyeGirl invited the general public to partake in The Breakfast Experience, a “Pajama Dance Party” held at Paisley Park Studios. With a request to “Dress 2 Impress” and doors set to open at 2 a.m., but with no confirmation that Prince himself would actually take the stage, hundreds made the trip to Chanhassen for the potential experience of seeing the master at work on his home turf.
Pajama-clad guests were let into the venue just after 2 a.m. and were greeted with a mix of dance tracks old and new (including plenty of Prince hits) piped through the PA. Some fans gathered in front of the stage and prepared for whatever was to come, while others took advantage of the pancake special. Yes, for the low price of $1 fans could enjoy a Paisley Park pancake with all the fixings. Breakfast, you could say, didn’t have to wait.
As attendees danced and dined, some fans began to question when something was going to happen on stage. Every test of equipment elicited a cheer (even a Windows loading screen projected behind the stage brought an ovation) and then, finally, around 4 a.m., 18-year-old Dani Curiel greeted the crowd and introduced her directorial debut, the video for “Breakfast Can Wait,” with the video’s choreographers joining her on stage. After the screening, at least four different remixes of “Breakfast Can Wait” were pumped through the sound system. Was that going to be it? Had breakfast been served?
After a brief lull in action, Prince and the rest of 3rdEyeGirl took to the stage (also dressed in pajamas) igniting the crowd with a fiery version of “Let’s Go Crazy Reloaded.” Prince led the way, playing guitar on all but three songs during the 90 minute set; on those other songs, including “Purple Rain,” Prince performed from behind the piano.
Although Prince is the obvious bandleader, there is no question that his bandmates are more than capable of their time in the spotlight. Sharing a stage with a virtuoso like Prince can seem intimidating, but Donna Grantis has developed a powerful stage presence and a perfect sense of timing, knowing just when to let her own skillful guitar work take center stage. And there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that drummer Hannah Ford and bassist Ida Neilsen have found a rhythm together and that they provide the perfect compliment to the the rock and roll side of Prince.
With an emphasis on funk, 3rdEyeGirl’s set included a number of recent jams including “Fixurlifeup” and the title track to the upcoming album Plectrum Electrum. Fans were also treated to selections from all across the Prince discography, including a couple of cuts from the 1996 album Chaos and Disorder to the early Raspberry Beret B-side “She’s Always in My Hair” to first set closer “Bambi,” from Prince’s second official release back in 1979.
Yes, first set closer. Nearly 30 minutes after the band said goodnight, 3rdEyeGirl took to the stage for a sampler set of Prince hits that included “I Would Die 4 U,” “Alphabet Street” and the Revolution standout, “America.”
The venue’s location in a Minneapolis suburb located 20 miles from downtown, as well as the legendary history surrounding the studio, added to the evening’s mystique. Hanging out with a bunch of strangers waiting for something magical to transpire, it was electric. This was my first time at Paisley Park and my first time seeing Prince perform live and it’s exactly the experience I would have wanted. I wasn’t just at a show. It felt like everyone gathered there were part of something special; the ban on cell phones and cameras certainly aided in making this feel like a one-time only experience. After periods of little public discourse, Prince is engaging with fans in a whole new way (even tweeting), and the effort to make everyone feel included does not go unnoticed. From the moment Prince greeted the crowd with “We’re 3RDEYEGIRL and so are you,” there was no doubt that we were all in this together.