Trampled by Turtles, Doomtree, Low and Haley Bonar at Bayfront Duluth - Review

9:48 AM

Saturday night the stage was set for an epic evening of Minnesota music.  Four of our arguably most talented acts were to descend on one of the most picturesque venues at Duluth's Bayfront Festival Park.  We were keeping a keen eye on the forecast all week, as the threat of thunderstorms looked to be very real.  Arriving in Duluth early in the day it was obvious that our concerns were justified as the city was blanketed in a thick fog.  
Canal Park Lift Bridge shrouded in fog
A cold wind blew in off the lake making temps at the front of the stage dip into the 50's and a drizzly rain was off and on for most of the first part of the evening.  Haley Bonar got things started off as the crowd began to filter in through the gates.  The smell of beer and fried food made making it more than 50 feet past the front door without a pit stop all but impossible.  With local fare in hand we headed to the stage, a towering construction of stone and steel just feet from the edge of Lake Superior.    

Cargo ship passes behind the stage as Doomtree gets started
Low's set was an obvious hit with the Duluth crowd.  Native to the lakefront town and playing shows since 1993, it was clear that the fans in the audience knew what to expect and were soaking up every song.  Their set seemed to go by incredibly fast and everyone was sad to see it end.  They finished things us with a soulful and moving cover of Rihanna's Stay, which seemed to capture the basis sentiment of the moment.  I missed the chance to film it, but I was able to locate a version online.  It's worth a listen...



Doomtree took the stage and the winds literally changed. Reversing direction from North off the lake it changed to coming from the South and was warmer and felt heavy with humidity.  The clouds in the sky were dark and swirling.  Things were about to get even more sketchy.  Doomtree's set was action packed and their immensely talented front-woman Dessa brought her brand of soulful vocals to Duluth for the evening.


Even as the rains came, the Doomtree fans stood strong. (A quick side note on Outdoor Concert Etiquette; go ahead and bring an umbrella if rain is in the forecast, just don't stand at the front of the stage if you plan to use it.  There is nothing quite as annoying as standing in the rain to try and enjoy a show but only getting a view of the umbrella in front of you.  You need to make a choice, be up front OR use the umbrella, not both!)  Wrapping up their full set to a huge crowd dancing in the rain was more than a little fun and the sound from the Bayfront stage was amazing.
The sky gets ugly while Doomtree performs
For many of those in attendance, Trampled by Turtles was the reason they came.  Duluth's golden boys took the stage in the pouring rain and thanked the devoted audience for their willingness to tolerate the less than ideal conditions.  In a well timed nod to another MN legend they kicked off their set with Bob Dylan's "Shelter from the Storm".


Unfortunatley, Mother Nature wasn't wiling to play nice and after just a handful of songs TBT was forced to leave the stage due to lightning strikes.  Check out Heady Trade Co's video of mid song lightning HERE, pretty cool stuff.  After just a few short minutes they returned telling the crowd that for the safety of their crew they would keep playing but if lightning struck again they'd have to leave again.  Cheers of appreciation filled the air.  Just a few cords into the next song and the sky was once again filled with bolts of lightning and that marked the end.  As TBT left the stage their tour manager came out telling people to head over to Amsoil Arena, just a few hundred yards away.  There we could wait out the storm and that they would eventually continue.  After nearly an hour of killing time and witnessing several more lightning strikes, we decided to head out.  This turned out to be a major fail on our part as eventually TBT did return to the stage to play for a tiny crowd of about 1000.  I'm not sure how long they played, but even one more song would have been worth the wait.

Until next year, Bayfront.  We're hoping to see this show happen again.

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