Based on the events of the wee hours of Thursday morning, it's safe to wonder whether Black-eyed Snakes ever actually left Mr. D's. The rock band fronted by Alan Sparhawk ushered in Day 5 of Homegrown Music Festival while it was still, according to the official schedule, Day 4.
What. A. Show.
There are moments during the eight-day fest of local music and art when you are among a small group of people watching a man sing or rap along with his own DIY kit of music and he might be all limbs and purposefully tangled in his mic cord and you think: "This. This is exactly what I needed to see right now." Then, 45 minutes later, you might have pushed yourself to the mid-front section of a throbbing throng of swaying zombies blissed out on one of the region's drivingest, beatingest, bands - a band you can literally feel in your femur and kidneys - and you might think: "This. This is exactly what I needed to see right now, too."
And then, when Sparhawk tells that sweaty mass, "Music is very easy. It's already inside you," you have to really believe him. Your femur agrees.
What. A. Show.
The typical Homegrown set last 45 minutes. By that point in the Black-eyed Snakes show, it was still ramping up. For instance, no one had crowd surfed yet and no one had run on stage and dove into the crowd - assuming they would get a safe overhead trip back to where they started.
Sparhawk was introspective between songs: first, about moving to Duluth and being offered crack and then, later, about the festival.
"This is pretty magical. Cherish this time you have to bump into people," he said. "Most people in the world do not have this. People who don't know anyone - stick around. You're going to make some really good friends."
This was after a sing-along to "Get Right Church" and before he stood up on ... something ... and sang "Bo Diddley."
Then the crowd surfing happened, though not by Sparhawk. This time.
At one point Sparhawk offered the audience an out: It was ok to leave. But the Snakes were going to keep on playing.
They played a fan-fave, "Devil's in the Cornbread" and maybe one or two more before the D's keepers finally turned on the lights. End time: 2:11 a.m.
Earlier in the night:
Mary Bue returned with a new band of people who've maybe never even lived in Duluth. She's always been a rock 'n' roll activist, and this go-round she added an apocalyptic song that references climate change and another about an abusive relationship. But she's got love songs about all the kissing and she flashed back, Retro Bue, to her once-a-week four-hour solo shows at Sir Benedict's. She performed new music from her upcoming album, her sequin top blinked under the stage lights and she closed with her ode to D-Town, "The Sh** I Left in Duluth" (potentially the most Go-Go-esque of all songs referencing Duluth).
Alamode followed with its signature retro pop, highly danceable music. Nathan Holte, who seems born to be on a stage - all falsetto and snaky moves and winning grins - greeted the crowd like he had been away for years. They mostly stuck to songs from last year's release "Swell," but threw in an instrumental.
Bob Monahan, who owns Red Herring Lounge and Hostel du Nord, dodged his way onto the stage and stalled just briefly before jumping into the crowd. (WDSE-WRPT's full video coverage makes it seem a bit pre-planned, but highly Homegrown-y nonetheless.)
Later, over at the Kom-On-Inn, Trash Cats paid tribute to Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison, who died almost a year ago.