When it comes to the Fourth of July, America is about excess. We like our food in heaps, our stereos turned up to 11 and our fireworks extravagant. For nearly three decades, the Taste of Minnesota has stood out as the state’s quintessential Independence Day celebration, offering all the vital ingredients that have included everything from ostrich on a stick to (inexplicably) Elvis Costello .
But with new management at the helm, this year’s Taste is packing more fun and flavor than ever for all you flag-waving patriots.
“We wanted to expand our music and food offerings as well as our family area,” said managing co-owner Andy Farris . “[We wanted to] really revamp a little bit of the vision.”
This might sound like a daunting task for an event whose only real summer competitor is the State Fair. But with five different stages for each day of music and twice as many food vendors, this year’s Taste has undergone a bit of an upgrade.
While the foodfare and family entertainment has certainly improved, it is Taste’s unexpectedly diverse musical lineup that’s been raising eye-brows since it was released last month. Most noteworthy is the addition of local rhyme slayers Atmosphere and P.O.S ., yielding Taste’s first ever hip-hop-friendly bill.
“It was a goal to increase the quality of the music. In past years there was some terrific music being offered, but it was maybe just one band at a time.” Farris said.
Rapper P.O.S. explained what the lineup says about how the area’s perception of hip-hop has changed over the years.
“Some people don’t understand that rap music isn’t all about stabbing people and shooting them and selling drugs,” P.O.S. said. “People I know have known that, people in Minneapolis have known that, the Twin Cities have known that. But I think people who are the owners of places and people who book places — they’re starting to understand that too.”
Friday July 2, Main Stage: 89.3 The Current (Atmosphere, POS, The Walkmen , Minus the Bear )
P.O.S. and Atmosphere wrap the night up on the Current’s main stage while East Coast garage rockers The Walkmen lead in. But the vintage-obsessed Pitchfork favorites are infamous for dull live shows, so try to swing by earlier for Minus the Bear.
Hailing from Seattle , indie-rock stalwarts Minus the Bear deliver boisterous, high-energy performances that rarely disappoint. Friday’s afternoon stages boasts local sensations that include country songstress Haley Bonar and folky seven-piece Communist Daughter .
Saturday July 3, 92 KQRS (Sammy Hagar , Lou Gramm , John Wait )
With acts like Sammy Hagar and Lou Gramm, Saturday seems as if it’s strictly reserved for either nostalgic Generation X-ers or anyone still content with blasting ’80s arena rock. Despite Van Halen’s botched reunion, Hagar’s still got the hair metal swagger that makes the ladies swoon and will deservedly be headlining the main stage. But the prized piece of Saturday afternoon is Minneapolis’ still-together (despite false rumors) The Alarmists . The reverb-heavy quintet channels everything from the east-coast grit of the Boss to the alt-country melodies of early-Wilco .
Sunday July 4, Cities 97 (Counting Crows , Need to Breath , Gin Blossoms )
Understandably, Taste decided to play it safe for the weekend’s main event. In the ’90s, it was fair game to label Counting Crows as alternative rock but with more recent shtick like “Accidentally in Love”, Counting Crows are really nothing more than bubbly safe pop that you’re more likely to see on used CD racks than hear on top 40 radio. Unfortunately, the remainder of Sunday’s lineup is more or less a snooze-fest of garden variety lite-rock and local blues acts. Maybe go catch some fireworks instead?
Monday July 5th, 93 x (The Offspring , 311 , Pepper )
Not only are ’90s pop-punk darlings The Offspring still a band, they’ve somehow managed to retain enough of a following that earned them the final headlining spot of the weekend. They’ll be joined by reggae-based rap-rock acts 311 and Pepper. But for those of you wary about revisiting your middle school CD collection, don’t fret: Twin Cities favorites Heiruspecs and Mark Mallman will be working the tents earlier in the day to make sure your Fourth of July weekend doesn’t end on a flat note.