Minneapolis isn’t Andrew Bird’s hometown, but it might as well be.  He was welcomed to the stage on Monday night like he was a native son.   The setlist was heavy on tracks from Break It Yourself, but as always, Bird peppered the show with tracks from his back catalog, both in their original forms and slightly altered ones.
There wasn’t any new ground broken at this show, but that’s not what we were after.  Overall, the show was a laid-back affair, perfect for a cold Minnesota evening: just enough to get your blood pumping before easing you back into a gentle sort of lull.
See the full review and setlist here.
Much like his recent show in Ann Arbor, the bulk of Andrew Bird’s set was devoted to new songs from his forthcoming album, which he said should be released in March 2012.  It’s a bold move: you’ve got a couple thousand people gathered, many of whom are there mostly to see you, and you play material that most of them are unfamiliar with.  For my part, these songs are already well-worn treasures that are getting better with age.  Hearing the newer songs with the full backing band — in some cases with two drummers, as Bowl of Fire member Kevin O’Donnell came out to join in on several songs — was an absolute joy.
There’s no way around it: Mavis Staples is a legend.  She’s not just a legend, but she’s our legend.  You wouldn’t think that gospel would have a home at the Hideout, but it does.  Tim Tuten and company were so intent on getting Mavis for this year’s Block Party that they agreed to every last request in her concert rider, including a request for “a big ass throne”.  The Hideout made her one, and it was glorious, every bit befitting the 72-year old Grammy winner.
At the Block Party, Jon Langford he was joined on stage by many others, including Sally Timms (the Mekons) and Alan Doughty (Waco Brothers), and, oh yeah, the Burlington Welsh Male Chorus.  Langford’s set was full of sea shanties, murder ballads, high kicks and viking hats and a little bit of punk rock.  Not many artists would have the guts to slow their set down with a choral shanty, sung all in Welsh, accompanied solely by guitar, but Langford did, and it worked.
Despite being woefully undereducated on blues, I found Booker T. Jones’ set to be thoroughly enjoyable, from songs from newer releases to old classics like “Green Onions”, and yes, even a quirky cover or two, with Jones appearing back onstage to encore with an instrumental cover of Outkast’s “Hey Ya”.  The all-ages crowd seemed into his set, as well, helped along by Jones’ very dynamic backing band.  Who knew the bopping sounds of an organ could be so cool?
The members of Kids These Days are products of Chicago’s public schools, as Hideout owner and education enthusiast Tim Tuten pointed out.  The recent high school grads effortlessly blend hip hop, jazz, R&B, soul, rock… you name it, there’s a hint of it in their music.  Led by Vic Mensa on rap vocals, Liam Cunningham on lead vocals and guitar, and Macie Stewart on vocals and keyboards, Kids These Days wowed the assembled crowd.  The blend of genres made their set accessible even to people who aren’t well-versed in what’s going on in hip hop.  The group has been getting the attention they deserve lately, with a set at Lollapalooza, performances at SXSW, and a stint as support for Trombone Shorty.

Mumford & Sons by howsmyliving on Flickr.

I like to reblog my photos when I find them elsewhere on Tumblr.  It makes me feel special.