Ain’t no party like a Paisley Park party, an oft-heard credo that echoed loudly Friday night when local hip-hop quintet Grrrl Prty performed at Prince’s Chanhassen studio complex in lieu of Prince himself.
The Minneapolis music legend never got on stage – and, in fact, was never even seen by most attendees -- at the first night of the three-night “international dance party” to promote his new album “HITNRUN.” His fans know to expect and accept the unexpected, and he’s never entirely expected at Paisley events. However, the $40 cover charge and the fact that he announced the marathon weekend to promote his record coming Monday (via Jay Z's Tidal streaming service) suggested maybe there was a good chance of seeing him plug in this time.
With two more nights to go, there’s still a chance of seeing the little big guy play. In the meantime, though, another band has been booked to perform on Saturday: LP Music, a jazz/funk ensemble led by Paul Peterson of the Prince-affiliated group the Family and former Prince saxophone player Eric Leeds, usually with guests. LP Music is also opening for Prince acolyte D'Angelo at First Avenue on Sunday, a sold-out gig that will likely go past midnight (thus making a D'Angelo surprise appearance at Paisley that night a difficult proposition).
After two hours of DJ-led, Prince-heavy dance tracks in Paisley Park’s main performance hall – weirdly, nothing from the new record was played -- Grrrl Prty took the stage in the smaller “party room” around 11:30 p.m. and performed for about 75 minutes in front of a backdrop of "Finding Nemo" playing on a video screen (off a heavily scratched DVD).
Each of the group’s rappers took solo turns at the microphone between two full-group sets, including young breakout star Lizzo and her buds Sophia Eris and Manchinta. Local rap creature Spyder Baybie (Jeremy Nutzman) also joined in as a guest toward the end. Supposedly, Prince did watch some of the set in person, according to sources, but fans never got a glimpse of him.
Sure, it was another blissful, rowdy Grrrl Prty performance, but Friday’s attendees could have seen almost the same set without the drive to Chanhassen – and with adult beverages and many more guest stars – at First Avenue last weekend for only $10. Their set was followed by more dance music.
To be fair, though, there were some other extras thrown in at Paisley, such as the chance to tour the recording facilities or pick up a slice of gourmet pizza. Those cost an extra $20 and $8, respectively. He also reportedly talked to a few fans via a conference call during one of the studio tours, where some of his new songs were played.
Stay tuned for more reports from the Paisley Park parties through the weekend.