Some of Minnesota’s biggest and best-known hip-hop and rock acts are teaming up to protect the state’s biggest and best-known wilderness area with a big outdoor concert Aug. 16 at Duluth’s Bayfront Festival Park, including Atmosphere, Doomtree, Cloud Cult, Low and Jeremy Messersmith.
Dubbed the Wild Waters Music Fest, the nine-act lineup will benefit Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness, the nonprofit organization heading up the Save the Boundary Waters campaign to fight sulfide-ore copper mining near the million-square-acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northern Minnesota.
Twin Cities hip-hop mavens Dem Atlas, the Lioness and DJ Keezy are also on the bill, as is the native American rock band War Bonnet from the Ojibwe reservations near the BWCA.
Through its locally created subsidiary Twin Metals Mining Minnesota, Chile-based mining conglomerate Antofagasta in May won federal approval to renew two mining leases nine miles east of Ely on the edge of the BWCA, but environmentalists and some state officials continue to fight the company, fearing pollution.
To show this was more than just your average summer festival gig, musicians offered up comments on the event in a press release sent out by Save the Boundary Waters organizers. P.O.S. of Doomtree said, “"I’ve never had my mind blown like my first trip to the Boundary Waters. It’s so easy to forget about how wild and beautiful and open the wilderness can be.”
Cloud Cult’s Craig Minowa, who has long been committed to environmental causes, said, “For me, there's just no place that has had such a profound impact on my understanding of myself and our true role in this world. It's just you, a backpack, a canoe and a reminder that nature really is the absolute rule-maker, and the more we step on her now, the harder she's gonna bite back.”
Fresh off hosting another sprawling Soundset festival two weekends ago, Atmosphere previously played Bayfront Festival Park in 2013 with Duluth’s own Trampled by Turtles, who host their usual all-Minnesota mini-fest there again July 6. Atmosphere and the whole Doomtree crew haven’t shared a bill together since Soundset in 2016. On hiatus of late, Doomtree only has one other gig on the books at the moment, the Common Sound block party on June 30, also featuring Messersmith.
Still arguably the best outdoor venue in Minnesota, Bayfront Festival Park is hosting several other big concerts this year including the Bayfront Country Jam with Joe Nichols on July 5, late-‘90s groovers 311 on July 7, the Steve Miller Band on July 14, the Bayfront Reggae & World Music Fest on July 20, O.A.R on Aug. 1, and the enduring Bayfront Blues Fest with Bobby Rush Aug. 9-11.