Eyes and Hands Festival 2005

Eyes & Hands Festival

Andrew Olson

Reader Weekly

When I lived in St. Cloud there were a few very young hippies renting upstairs who had no money but an idea for a store behind the railroad tracks. I checked out the store after it opened and learned it was little more than a used clothing shop or maybe a glorified garage sale. A few years went by and the railroad tracks were replaced with a road and their store, Cheap Thrills, got a great location.

When the Eyes and Hands Festival played out there a few weeks ago it was a disaster. The reason was that a limited group of people go to an outskirts coffee-shop/ apparel store in a town that prides itself on intoxicating partying. With thousands of people assembling on one small strip of bars Downtown the one or two coffeeshops usually have maybe 5 people in them. With the exception of the Corporate Caffeine peddlers like Caribou Coffee or Starbucks, coffee shops are passé. The only entertainment magazine still around is the Up Next, which is owned by a big newspaper corporation, so forget about local music or events being covered.

This past weekend the Eyes and Hands Festival broke even here in Duluth. Unlike other local festivals this one actually paid the artists to perform and wasn’t just leaching onto the scene. It was also one of the most exciting and packed nights at the NorShor in some time.

On Friday (July 8th) local artists Trampled By Turtles and their folk dancing moshpit of enthusiastic swingers were in full effect. Although someone stopped me to tell me that it is referred to as just a “pit” to the punk rockers now. So maybe folk bands can have moshpits, and punks can have pits? A folk moshpit is more reckless abandon and swinging around within a given space, but no contact. A punk pit is where people like to touch each other and draw blood on occasion. Take your pick?

Saturday (July 9th) brought in some great acts from the Cities and highlighted energetic and artistic music. One dark band that stood out was A Whisper In The Noise and their Pink Floyd meets Nine Inch Nails sound. They utilized a violin, french horn, organ, guitar, drums and bass. Their album, Through The Ides Of Marchwas a bit dated from 2002, but had some nice material. The intros on the songs were between one to two minutes long, and every song but one was five to seven minutes in length. What is the relevance of that? Unfortunately, the best song on the album is about three minutes long with almost no intro. Ironically titled, “The Song You Hate”, it is loaded with vulgarities and moves at a quickened pace. That may explain the whipping noise in the background of the song? Imagine a rant that moves to a beat of spacey sounds with a dash of spookiness. Seeing them live in the dimly lit Nor Shor theater was cryptic.

As the walls slowly age and pieces are removed one can look around and picture a grand theater and the potential of such a building. If a bar was close to the stage, bathrooms, and smoking it would be the best bar in town to watch bands play. When it finally fills up for a show the Nor Shor comes alive again.

When Doomtree took the stage to close out the evening the liquor was done being served and it was approaching 1:20 am. That stopped no one and the crowd jumped up to dance to the lively hip-hop music. Later a live backup band joined them on stage and tipped off a weekend that showed a lot of promise for the Eyes and Hands Festival. It also showed the awesome side of the music scene in Duluth being more about music than towns like St. Cloud who just wanna get wasted and party. We have both here!