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Homegrown Day 5: Robots, trolleys and leisure suits

While you were sleeping, at least a couple of the Bottle Jockeys had slipped into retro leisure suits for a set that mixed its bar band sound with banter and hijinks. The who's-who of retro rock band features longtime local musicians: Chris Whitt...

While you were sleeping, at least a couple of the Bottle Jockeys had slipped into retro leisure suits for a set that mixed its bar band sound with banter and hijinks. The who's-who of retro rock band features longtime local musicians: Chris Whittier, Ben Marsen, Tony Derrick, Scott Millis - and, at least for this show, Dan Anderson sans Silk Sheiks.

Chad Lyons sang, but also provided the hokey banter.

"I'm Alan Sparhawk, and this is Trampled By Turtles," he said to the crowd Thursday night at the Reef, closing out the fifth day of Homegrown Music Festival.

When someone reminded him that he has been using the same joke for the past 10 years, Lyons corrected them. Actually, 13 years.

During a cover of "Hog for You Baby," Derrick roamed from the stage with his guitar and deep into the crowd.

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Lyons kept mistaking the Reef for Quinlan's.

They played a song about short skirts, and a bunch of people in the crowd raised their PBRs into the air.

Earlier in the night, in Superior, Robot Rickshaw dressed in all silver, from gas mask to kicks, for a set that included well-lit towers, robot drums and other percussion, and a laptop. Two members of Tribal Alchemie accompanied the music with improvisational tribal fusion.

It would be impossible to create choreography for robot music, one of the dancers said after performing at Izzy's BBQ Lounge & Grill in Superior.

Robot Rickshaw cleared the stage - which required a ramp for deconstructing robot bandmates.

Gavin St. Clair followed, singing something akin to sock-hop pop - wholesome, mid-century-sounding love songs, sometimes about someone named Sally. It was St. Clair's first fest, and he was joined by a drummer and upright bass player. At some point, an audience member unscrewed all of the lightbulbs in an overhanging chandelier, darkening the room. Meanwhile, on the trolley that traveled between Superior venues, Wes Hadrich quietly sang "if you're sad, let me know." After his gig, riders wouldn't be silenced: Duluth mayor Emily Larson led riders in a round of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat."

Rick McLean, with his super chill, super funny, super good songwriting, played bar music: easy to dance to, fun to listen to. He opened with the song "Out the Snout" and also played "Dog Kennel Blues" during his set at the Main Club. For one of his final songs, he reimagined the words to the mid-1960s song "Downtown": "When life is boring," McLean sang.

Back in Duluth, The Fiasco played a heavily instrumental set that channeled Hendrix and Allman Brothers. They were like the Pied Pipers of the Reef, luring hip-shakers to the dance floor in front of the stage.

Related Topics: MUSIC
Christa Lawler is a former reporter for the Duluth News Tribune.
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