For its 21st year, the Basilica Block Party has landed one of its most diverse and strongest lineups – and one that seems less curated by longtime sponsors Cities 97 radio than ever.
Friday: Weezer, Basilica’s headliner in 2010, is back with its nerdy, catchy modern-rock including “Pork and Beans” and “Beverly Hills.” Nate Ruess, the fun. frontman who has gone solo after one smash group album, will showcase the lush romantic pop heard on his 2015 solo debut, “Grand Romantic.” Cities 97 and Basilica mainstays O.A.R. and Mat Kearney return this year. Also appearing are Matthew Sweet, known for the 1991 power-pop classic “Girlfriend,” and Motion City Soundtrack, the Twin Cities power punks who fit in at many a festival.
Saturday: The hipsters are hyped for a downtown Minneapolis appearance by Wilco, the beloved Chicago rockers featuring Jeff Tweedy’s crafty songwriting and Nels Cline’s inspiring guitars. It’s just as easy to get excited about the return of the reigning Americana Music Association’s entertainer of the year, Jason Isbell, indie-rock princess Jenny Lewis (formerly of Rilo Kiley) or Los Angeles’ retro synth-soul/pop party band Fitz & the Tantrums, who are becoming Basilica regulars. Pop fans, including Cities 97’s new core audience, will likely warm up to Echosmith, sibling-band purveyors of “Cool Kids,” and 34-year-old “Fight Song” hitmaker Rachel Platten. For a change, women are represented in the Basilica lineup.