The yellow-shirted security guard bounced to the beat. The tween girls in the homemade Imagine Dragons T-shirts waved their hands in the air like they just didn't care. And rapper Slug of Atmosphere urged the masses at TCF Bank Stadium to "make some noise for the sun."
After a humid day dotted with rain, the skies parted for Saturday's free All-Star Concert at the University of Minnesota football stadium featuring Imagine Dragons, America's hottest rock band of the moment, and Atmosphere, the hometown hip-hop heroes. The baseball players — and especially the Twins organization and Minnesota tourism officials — will be happy if the weather for Tuesday's All-Star Game at Target Field is just as pleasant.
Saturday put a smile on the bearded face of Ryan Whitaker, a big baseball fan from Minneapolis who has been looking forward to the All-Star Game festivities since the Legislature approved funding for a new stadium eight years ago.
"You get the feel this is a big major event," Whitaker, 25, said as Imagine Dragons tore through their opening number, "Fallen." "All these events are on an equal level to me — the concert, the game, the Home Run Derby." As a Twins season-ticket holder, he dropped $600 on the festivities.
He'd been at TCF Bank Stadium for a big concert by U2 and a smaller homecoming show by Atmosphere. He was especially taken by the setup for Saturday's event — with the stage at the 50-yard line, in front of 100 yards of empty seats decorated with the giant letters spelling "All-Star Game," the MLB logo and two Twins "TC" logos.
"Visually, it's stunning," Whitaker said. "You get the feel that this is as big as the All-Star Game."
Except it wasn't as big as the U2 concert at the same stadium in 2011, when 58,000 fans paid as much as $250 a ticket for an in-the-round performance in the pouring rain. MLB limited Saturday's concert to 27,000 free tickets.
And it wasn't much like last year's All-Star Concert in New York's Central Park, where the New York Philharmonic serenaded, Mariah Carey turned vocal gymnastics on a few tunes and Joe Torre, the former Yankees manager, recited "Casey at the Bat" while accompanied by the philharmonic.
No, this concert had Minneapple flavor with Slug declaring: "We're Atmosphere. We're from a city called Minneapolis." Later, he announced that he was standing in "tropical St. Paul." Maybe he needs a geography lesson.
Making their sixth Twin Cities appearance since April 2012, Imagine Dragons, the Grammy winners from Las Vegas, rocked on their hits "Radioactive," "Demons" and "It's Time" as well as a cover of U2's "With or Without You." Fireworks followed their performance, with Prince's "1999" blasting over the stadium speakers.
Atmosphere 'tough to beat'
Bob LaDuke, 53, of St. Michael, was surprised and thrilled to see Atmosphere at the football stadium. He's seen the group, part of the local Rhymesayers collective, a dozen times, and he attended the U2 show at the stadium. And Saturday turned out to be the perfect family outing because his wife and daughters, ages 10 and 13, love Imagine Dragons.
"An outdoor concert on a beautiful night is tough to beat regardless who's playing," said LaDuke, who was wearing a Rhymesayers T-shirt.
Fans came sporting T-shirts declaring loyalty to the University of Minnesota, the Boston Marathon and Joe Mauer. Remember him?
At souvenir stands, neither the All-Star Game T-shirts ($20-$30) nor Imagine Dragons T's ($35 and $60) were in much demand.
Cristina Erickson and Mikayla Hopkins, both 12, from Rochester, didn't need to buy a souvenir Imagine Dragons T-shirt — they made their own with glow-in-the-dark lettering.
"I decided to put all their songs [titles] on [the shirt] because my sister made a Justin Bieber shirt with the song names on it," said Cristina.
And nothing wrong with honoring big sis, because she drove to them to the Imagine Dragons concert so they could all sing along with "On Top of the World."