There were Twins caps, hoodies and windbreakers. But, other than a few Gear Daddies T-shirts, there wasn’t much rock wear on the cool, breezy Friday at Target Field.
Or cowboy hats. Or flip-flops. Or tank tops.
This wasn’t a Kenny Chesney extravaganza or a Paul McCartney landing or even a Bob Dylan mumble fest. This was the inaugural Skyline Music Festival — a four-band, five-hour mini-stadium concert featuring four groups, including Soul Asylum, that were popular in the 1990s.
“This is so much better than Chesney,” said Tracy Manders, 45, of Coon Rapids, referring to the country superstar who performed spectacles at Target Field in July of this year and last. “It was hard to get anywhere those nights. This is much more reasonable. I can get to the bathroom without waiting.”
Credit a concert that drew 6,752 fans, not 43,940; charged $45, not $253, for the top ticket; and placed a modest stage in foul territory, not a monster eating up center field. Oh, and no concertgoers on the field.
“The field is sacred ground,” said Sam Elliot Gagliardi, general manager of K-TWIN and point man for Skyline.
This was a tryout for the Twins, Target Field and K-TWIN, which, like the Twins, is owned by the Pohlad family.
The plan is to do six of these concerts every summer — probably three weekends, with two shows each, Gagliardi said.
Friday’s sellout crowd gave the concept a thumbs up.
“It’s more comfortable than I thought, and it sounds better,” said Shannon Moran, 50, of Sioux Falls, S.D. “I was ready not to like it.”
“It’s a nice intimate venue,” added his friend, Marna Kinney, 42, of New Hope.
It doesn’t get much more intimate than Soul Asylum singer Dave Pirner reminiscing about his dad taking him to Met Stadium as a kid to see the Twins.
“Now I have a kid,” he told the crowd. “It’s my dad’s birthday. So let’s all sing along. His name is Donald.”
Michelle Briski, 46, of Coon Rapids, was thrilled to be outdoors. “Outdoor concerts are the best,” she said. “It’s nice to see the facility used for things other than Twins games. And it’s nice to see people our age. There’s a lot of gray hair. And we like that it’s Friday. That allows us a couple of days to recuperate.”
Gray or not, the crowd was dominated by folks in their 40s. And the four lead singers were 47 (Big Head Todd), 48 (Matthew Sweet), 49 (Soul Asylum) and 50 (Gear Daddies).
Kim Thompson, 41, of River Falls, Wis., came to the concert with five college friends and some of their husbands because the Gear Daddies were their soundtrack in college.
“This is nice,” she said. “I just wish there was someplace to stand in front of the stage.”
Her husband, Jeff Thompson, 47, also wished the Surly beer stand was open. But, alas, this was not the full Target Field operation — just a mini-stadium along third-base line.
But the setup afforded all the concertgoers something not available to all the Chesney concertgoers: a view of the downtown Minneapolis skyline.
“That was an incredible backdrop,” Gear Daddies singer Martin Zellar said backstage. “I had a blast. But I hate the [live video] screens. When I’d look at Randy [Broughten, his guitarist], I’d see myself on the screen. ”
But the big-screen close-ups in left and right field were loved by the fans.
Organizers were happy, as well.
“I’m extremely pleased for the first one,” said Gagliardi. “I was nervous how the stadium would look aesthetically” with so many empty seats.
After roaming around various parts of the ballpark, Gagliardi feels the capacity can be expanded to 10,000, by opening another upper deck and the suite level for future concerts. He also thinks they could enhance the sound system to have a wider reach.
“Minneapolis needs more outdoor [concert] venues,” said Chad Lindell, 41, of Chanhassen. “This is a step in the direction. I’d be back here for more shows.”