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Homegrown Music Festival 2017: Day 4

Woman singing into a microphone with yellow stage lights over her shoulder
Adam Reinhardt for KUMD
Rachel Phoenix of Social Disaster

Night 4, Westside Wednesday, once again showcased the wide scope of Duluth’s music scene and packed it all in to the part of town past 29th Avenue West.

Beaner’s Central was packed from the tables in back to the shoulder-to-shoulder standing room up front for an all-ages rock fest.

Guitarist singing into a microphone and drummer on stage
Credit KUMD

G’narwals, a two-man alternative rock group, picked up the pace as the guitarist and drummer switched from instrumentals to belting out lyrics. Next, up and coming rockers The Conformist Party took the stage by storm. Complete with in sync head banging, this four-piece showed had the crowd clapping along during one of the band’s more well-known songs, “Whispers” and attempting a mini mosh pit. Frontman Ryan Walker, enticed the crowd to show up for a music video shoot for their song “Sleeptalkers” this Saturday with the promise of beer, pizza and tunes as they closed out their set.

Up next, the Fabulous D-bags promised gritty punk and lots of on stage beer chugging. They graced the crowd with a new song, announcing,“This is a new one, it’s short and loud with no words,” (at least none decipherable) as the 30-second, rambunctious tune bounced through the mosh pit. They closed out with a cover of The Queers’ “Like a Parasite,” chug their beers, throw out some pieces of advice about getting arrested, and joined the crowd before the night was over. 

Woman in a wheel chair playing a fiddle, two men playing guitar, and a man playing keyboards
Credit KUMD
Gaelynn Lea, Alan Sparhawk, Al Church, and Dave Mehling

It was a more sedate (but still enthusiastic) audience at Clyde Iron Works, where Rich Mattson and the Northstars were the main stage openers, followed by Gaelynn Lea. Her ethereal performance was backed by her Murder of Crows bandmate Alan Sparhawk, Al Church, and The Fontanelle’s Dave Mehling. (Mehling actually streamed a good chunk of the performance live from offstage.) Lea introduced a new tune, “Bound by a Thread,” and the set culminated with a lovely, extended chamber pop jam on a Finnish fiddle tune.

Man in shorts and tank top playing guitar with three horn players in the background
Credit KUMD
The Social Disaster

Next up, the Social Disaster threw a beach party, complete with towels, sunglasses, bucket hats, and denim cut-offs. Lead singer Rachel Phoenix confidently prowled the stage in sexy sailor shorts and a pin-up ‘do, running through old favorites and introducing a new tune or two. Partway through guitarist Jesse Hoheisel casually kicked off his shoes, which seemed innocent enough until he began shedding more clothing throughout the set, eventually stripping down to swim shorts and a tank top. Near the end of the set inflatable beach balls were launched into the crowd for fans to bat around to the pulsing beat of “Chokecherry,” and a horn trio made up of Dave Adams (aka Big Wave Dave) and members of Red Mountain joined in for a song.

Two men playing guitar and singing
Credit Christine Dean for KUMD
Father Hennepin

Festival founder Scott Lunt’s band Father Hennepin’s sets always feel like a reunion, with familiar faces stretching back to the infamous 30th birthday party that started it all. “This band is 20 years old,” Lunt marveled from the Mr. D’s stage. “I can’t think of ANYTHING I’ve done for 20 years.” The Bottle Jockeys brought their revved-up retro rock, punctuated by lead singer Chad Lyon’s wisecracks, to Mr. D’s to close down the night.

Over at the Kom-on-Inn, moody post-rockers Chase Down Blue gave an intimate performance that featured several songs, including the title track, from Chase Down Blue’s latest release Red Five in addition to a few old standbys.

Woman clogging and holding a fiddle
Credit Christine Dean for KUMD
Brandy Forsman of Four Mile Portage

Old-time string band Four Mile Portage was up next. At first, this felt like a puzzling bit of scheduling for a late-night Wednesday West Duluth bar show. However, as soon as the group launched into an energetic set of danceable fiddle tunes, complete with clogging from Tom Maloney and Brandy Forsman, it was apparent the crowd, young and old, was eating it up. We’ve never been to an Irish pub on a rowdy Saturday night, but would like to imagine this is how it would be.

The Stephanie Longstreet Band wrapped up the evening at the Kom-on-Inn, offering a soulful folk-rock set anchored by Longstreet’s distinctive voice. She repeatedly teased that at the end of the night the band would announce its new name; clarinetist Joseph Anderson did the honors, dubbing the group “Kitchen Slippers” before, to much laughter, the rest of the band corrected it to “Kitchen Shoes.”

One of the most odd, masterful and buzzed-about Homegrown performances came during the Low Forms set at the Gopher Lounge.  Clad entirely in stetsons, flannels, and flamboyant belt buckles, the band, with the addition of Alan Sparhawk, became Cowboy Division. Think just a little bit of dust, a tumbleweed and a cowbell all added to some solid Joy Division covers.  Pete Biasi handed vocal duties over to Sparhawk, who read the lyrics off paper but knew the cowbell parts by heart.  Hopefully, they make a return for the Ides of March next year.

Band in western clothing and hats
Credit Adam Reinhardt for KUMD
Cowboy Division

Fear of bruises didn’t stop anyone at the Gopher Lounge from shoving thy neighbor, as a  moshpit erupted during Lord Montague’s set of endless riffage. A particularly intoxicated fan marked the third stage crash we’ve witnessed this week , knocking over the monitors no less than eight times.

The mosh carried over, and intensified, during Dad’s Acid’s take in the lounge.  Numerous stage dives got the management on stage to tell everyone at the sludge surf fiesta to “cool off a bit.”  “We need you to calm down as much as possible for this next one” said Jacob Swanson, to only minimal effect.  For an encore they did a 5 second cover of “Jack and Diane” before telling everyone to “go the f*** home.”

For our full gallery from Day 3, click here.

For previous coverage on all things Homegrown, check out our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Band on stage
Credit Adam Reinhardt for KUMD
Chase Down Blue

Crowd surfer
Credit Adam Reinhardt for KUMD
Crowd surfer at Lord Montague show

Man playing bass, man playing guitar, and woman singing on stage
Credit Adam Reinhardt for KUMD
Rich Mattson and the Northstars

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KUMD's Homegrown Music Festival coverage is made possible by a grant from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

Christine is The North 103.3's Music Director, a host of Music Through the Day, and the producer of Live from Studio A. One of her favorite things about her job is the opportunity to share music from the Twin Ports’ many talented local artists. In her spare time she takes full of advantage of Duluth’s outdoors opportunities.
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