Tag Archives: concerts

Winstock weekend

10 Jun

Summer season officially kicked off this weekend. Not in terms of the weather, however. BUT, the first country music festival near the Twin Cities – Winstock, happened, officially kicking off summer outdoor concerts.

This year was the first time in Winstock’s history that they completely sold out of tickets AND camping – VIP, reserved, general admission – everything. Lucky for me, I know someone who knows someone to get tickets to attend.  A few years prior, I was working at Winstock – and it was an unreal site seeing so many people (over 21,000!!) cram into a small, open field in the middle of Minnesota.

This was also the biggest ticket Winstock has ever had, in terms of their lineup. Dierks Bentley, Miranda Lambert headlined the festival on Friday night, with Kip Moore and Luke Bryan closing down the grounds on Saturday night. I didn’t get a chance to attend on Saturday night, but Friday night was well worth the two-hour trip. The thing I love most about festivals is there’s not really any down time between artists; once a main stage artist has finished their set, another artist starts their set at the back of the grounds at the emerging artists stage. The emerging artists stage is generally reserved for those with only one song on the radio or local bands trying to make it big.

We saw Charlie Worsham rock out for a 30-minute set shortly after we arrived – and got to see this guy working hard, giving a stage intro!

Pat at Winstock


Charlie currently has one single out on the radio right now called “Could It Be.” He took a chance during one of the choruses to put the mic in the audience’s direction to see if anyone would sing along with him; the crowd surprised him with a convincing rendition of his own song – so much so, he nearly forgot to sing the rest of the song! Talk about a cool moment to witness: an artist seeing the audience sing their own song back to them for the first time EVER.

Miranda Lambert performed in the lineup for the spot that should have been the Pistol Annies; the group, for whatever reason, backed out last minute. She honored the commitment she had made and came with her “normal” sassy-pants on. Another thing I love about festivals is since each artist has only about one hour to perform on stage, their set list is pretty much what would be on their greatest hits album – with very limited slow songs included. While Dierks Bentley is one of my favorites to see in concert, he was a little – shall we say – sloppy (?) for his set, you could tell that he was having a blast, and in turn, the crowd did too. I saw Dierks perform at Winstock a few years back when there was no more than 10,000 or 11,000 people; he kept commenting on how awesome it was to see a sea of people that large on the Winstock grounds. I couldn’t agree more.


I’d say this weekend was a success; a perfect kick off to summer concert season. Good company, accompanying good music on a cool summer night? Couldn’t have been better.


k102 north country christmas ball (featuring rocket club)

23 Dec

The Twin Cities has an abundance of places to see live music – anything from a small, intimate venue like the Fine Line Cafe to a rockin’ arena like the Xcel Energy Center. Through some awesome connections, a few friends, Pat and I had the opportunity to attend the K102 North Country Christmas Ball (featuring Rocket Club) at Mill City Nights on December 21.

Prior to the show, we grabbed some dinner at the local Osaka Sushi & Hibachi restaurant. We opted for sushi and placed our order. Pat and I got our normal, “boring” order of a couple California rolls and a Lobster-Avocado roll. The Rooney’s, on the other hand, ordered so many pretty, exotic rolls, I had to take pictures of how beautifully displayed they were! I even ventured to try a couple, and I’m happy to say, I wasn’t too grossed out. Guess which are ours?

Osaka Sushi


Lots of sushi!

I’ve never attended a concert at Mill City Nights prior to the North Country Christmas Ball, so I was duly excited for the evening. The venue was bigger than I thought it was – a split entry with a large bar (and the restrooms) downstairs, a main floor with a bar area and an upstairs viewing area. For this particular event, the upstairs area was reserved for the ‘beautiful people.’ We set up camp near the sound booth (I resisted pressing buttons) while Pat ran around working.

Side note: this is how our concert events are turning out to be the more Pat gets involved at the radio station. He invites people for me to hang out with while he works during the early parts of the evening’s show. While I’m excited he’s getting more responsibility and is a team player, I’m secretly missing him to talk about song order, discuss sets, criticize talk about the opening act and finding our nominee for “best” (worst) dancer. Country concerts have the best dancers. And yes, if you are at one, I am judging your moves – choose wisely.

I digress… Greene & Hurst opened the Christmas Ball opting to sing a lot of their own music they had written. J.D. Greene is the afternoon host at K102 and I must say, he’s really grown into his guitar playing from when I used to hear him strumming on the out-of-tune Trailor Choir guitar he had in his office. Todd Hurst had a fantastic voice, as well. I’m hoping to catch their band again in the near future.

While I am biased, I think Rocket Club is one of the best musical groups I’ve seen live. If you haven’t seen them play, find the nearest venue to you and SEE THEM NOW. There is so much talent on stage between the songs they write, the instruments they play and the beautiful voices that belt from their chests. Rocket Club opened their North Country Christmas Ball set with Little Drummer Boy – and NAILED it. The bass player’s son played the snare drum and didn’t miss a beat (no pun intended). Their set list combined their usual songs from their albums, interspersed with Christmas songs – and these guys know how to keep the crowd interested. Far too often at concerts, I find myself somewhat bored in the middle of a set because the artist has too many slow songs in a row. Not these guys. Rocket Club wastes no time on stage or performing. They played for nearly two hours and I didn’t want the night to end. It was the perfect start to a long holiday weekend.

Dierks Bentley: a Casino Concert Review

15 Nov

Dierks Bentley

Saturday evening was the first time I had the opportunity to attend a concert at the Treasure Island event center. Needless to say, it was very quaint. There was no more than a couple thousand people in attendance for the show – and the setting was perfect. It was almost like a personal concert from Dierks Bentley himself; well, you and a couple thousand close friends. Dierks sounded great from start to finish, and the guy definitely knows how to work a crowd.

There is a double-edged sword about shows at a casino; on the one hand, the shows are generally shorter in time – only about 75-90 minutes, but, on the other hand, the shorter amount of time encourages the artist to play their super hits. In other words, casino shows are like “best of” shows where artists only play their radio hits or the most popular songs from their albums.

Dierks didn’t disappoint. He started the show with “Country & Cold Cans,” the title track to his latest EP, and never missed a beat. It was a Dierks Bentley hit, one after the other. He slowed down the show for only a small handful of songs, including the poignant song, “My Last Name.” After he finishes his 2012 tour, Dierks said he was going to retire “My Last Name” for awhile, so I’m stoked I got to see him perform it one last time before its impending – though I’m sure temporary – retirement.

One of my favorite Dierks Bentley songs is “Home” – and it carried an extra special meaning this weekend seeing as though Veterans Day was on Sunday. He must have been to an Eric Church show recently because during “Home,” Dierks asked the audience to take out their phones and light up the hall like the northern sky. It was a really cool sight. I was too mesmerized to snap a picture.

I’ve been a Dierks Bentley fan since his first single “What Was I Thinkin’” hit the airwaves in 2003, and have had the chance to see him several times. If you haven’t been to a Dierks Bentley show, I highly recommend checking him out next time he comes through town.

The Tight Pants Brigade Invades Target Field

9 Jul

In other words, Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney invade Target Field for the first concert ever at the beautiful, brand new ballpark. As an avid baseball fan, any chance to enter the gates at Target Field is a treat – however, I was NOT prepared for the spectacle that we were about to see.

Having the privilege to attend several shows over the past few years, I’ve been fortunate enough to see artists play at a small venue like the Varsity Theater or Fine Line Café, to a packed house arena like the Xcel Energy Center, to a wide open field full of cowboy hat wearin,’ country music lovin’ group of people like the Soo Pass Ranch for WEFest. Target Field – by far – is the best venue sound-wise that I have ever heard music played at. The sound was impeccable!

Jake Owen started the show and proudly was able to claim that he was the ‘first ever to perform’ at Target Field. He opened with (my current favorite) song “The One That Got Away” and kept the party rockin’ for nearly all 45+ minutes he was on stage; the only time Jake slowed the pace down was for “Alone with You” midway through his set. I really liked the way he threw in the old-time, upbeat cover songs of Lynard Skynard and Alabama to appeal to all ages of the crowd – and all ‘genres’ within country music itself. He was the epitome of what an opening act is supposed to do for a concert – especially a concert that lasts for the better half of a day.

Grace Potter & the Nocturnals were second on the lineup card to go to bat for the Brothers of the Sun tour. While I enjoyed Kenny Chesney and Grace Potter’s duet, “You and Tequila,” (which, I’m sure I am not alone when I say I was disappointed that they didn’t perform that at the show on Sunday – I was convinced that is why Grace Potter & the Nocturnals were on the bill!), I have to admit we skipped out on their entire performance to get food. A girl has gotta eat – especially when a concert is 6 ½ hours long! We glanced at the several big screen TV’s littered throughout Target Field’s concourses for a glimpse of what was going on, but other than seeing her bang on the drums, we missed the entire performance keeping cool in the shade and filling our bellies with scrumptious ballpark food.

Tim McGraw is notoriously known for a slower-paced show with the several ballads he performs – and that was the expectation I had going into this show. Don’t get me wrong, he has some great upbeat songs, but some of his biggest hits are ballads. When he strutted his stuff on stage in his all-white getup, I settled in for what I thought would be a “typical” Tim McGraw show. Man, was I wrong! I was thoroughly impressed with Tim McGraw’s performance and how he pulled out all the stops to get the crowd energized – and KEEP them energized. He started with “Felt Good on My Lips” right into “Down on the Farm,” followed by what seemed to be every fast song he’s ever sang, with only a sprinkle of some of his best slower songs, including “Better Than I Used to Be” and “The Cowboy in Me.” His set would have been perfect if he would have performed either “My Little Girl” or “My Best Friend.”

“Beer in Mexico” will always have a special place in my heart – and I’ll always think of Pat whenever I hear it (cue the “awes”) – but it was the second to best perfect song Kenny Chesney could have started with for his segment of the show. I would have recommended starting with “Live a Little,” for not only the nearly 50-second ramp, but it’s a perfect get-you-going type of song – and I’m still a little bitter he didn’t play it. While Kenny usually doesn’t disappoint for his shows, I must admit I was semi-disappointed with the long slow set he had in the middle of his performance. For a summer show that had momentum building from the opening act, the slow set of songs put a damper on the otherwise lively concert. His song selection for the slow set was great, but the energy he exuded at the beginning quickly faded after the third slow song in a row. Aside from not performing “Live a Little” and the prolonged slow set, Kenny outdid himself with excitement for playing at Target Field.

The ‘encore’ for the Brothers of the Sun Tour combined the vocals of the tight pants brigade (the way I fondly refer to Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney) – just a short and sweet four song set, singing the ever popular “Feel Like a Rockstar,” along with combining on vocals for each of their respective hits from the past.

While the show itself had a few low balls, the first concert ever at that beautiful baseball stadium was a homerun. I give the Brothers of the Sun Tour stop at Target Field an A+.