The Current’s Music on a Stick concert at the State Fair this year had a stacked lineup for those who are into bluegrass and romantic indie rock. Lissie opened the night, followed by Lord Huron and local favorites Trampled By Turtles.
As the golden hour washed over those of us corralled in the Grandstand, Lissie took the stage with more energy than anybody in the crowd had after a long day at the Fair. She started strong with the title track off her latest full-length album, Castles, bouncing barefoot around the stage. A few in the audience remarked on the similarity of her voice and Stevie Nicks’ during “Further Away (Romance Police).” Towards the end of her set, she spoke about singing at the Vikings game the evening prior and burst into an abbreviated version of the national anthem. Then, she closed her set with an older song, “In Sleep,” her exuberant glow having rubbed off on most folks in the audience.
Jill Riley and Brian Oake took the stage to introduce the next act: Los Angeles-based indie band Lord Huron. Their set got a rollicking start with “Ancient Names (Part I),” from their latest album, Vide Noir, before going into a handful of songs from Strange Trails.
“What a treat it is to be here at the State Fair! You see some livestock today? We’ve got a couple blue-ribbon beefcakes up here on stage,” said lead singer Ben Schneider, pointing to the rest of the band between songs.
The last half of Lord Huron’s set featured several of their more popular tracks, which perked people up. “Ends of The Earth,” “Fool For Love,” and “Wait By The River” — the latter of which was dedicated to all the new lovers in the audience — all had people singing and dancing along. Schneider prefaced “The Night We Met” with, “This one is good for making out,” inducing slow dancing and embraces like a wave through the audience. With a tip of his hat, Schneider and the band closed their set with “Time To Run.”
Duluthian bluegrass heroes Trampled by Turtles proved themselves worth the wait. Before they came out on stage, an audience member near me commented, “Why are they making us Wait So Long?!” referencing one of the headliners’ most popular songs. But the crowd eagerly received their opening tunes: “Victory” and “Help You” from 2011’s Palomino. About five songs deep, the band slowed down their high-energy performance with “Life is Good on the Open Road,” from their latest album of the same name.
“Kelly’s Bar” received screams from apparent Red Wing and Winona residents and/or natives, and during “Darkness and The Light,” I noticed a man who was dancing so hard, he had cleared a tiny pit for himself in the crowd. “Alone” had much the same effect as Lord Huron’s make-out song; most people held their friends and loved ones close.
“Our bass player would like to sing you a song,” said frontperson Dave Simonett before the band began a cover of Faces’ “Ooh La La.” A few songs later, he dedicated “Winners” to the folks from Duluth, saying, “I don’t know if anyone came all the way out here from Duluth, but this one’s for you.” The audience erupted when they began “Wait So Long” as their final song, and after a few minutes off stage, the band came back for one more: “Bloodshot Eyes.”
Trampled by Turtles didn’t interject much banter between songs, but the lack of chatting seemed to stem from a well of kindness and humility, making their show one of the most welcoming concerts I’ve been to.
Photos by Darin Kamnetz for MPR:
Trampled by Turtles