Saint Cloud Homecoming

Andrew Olson

Reader Weekly

This past weekend I went back to my alma matta St. Cloud State University for their annual celebration of homecoming. It only comes once a year, and each year the event gets smaller; or maybe I just get older?

Years ago there were giant riots on the streets of St. Cloud and ever since the reputation has preceded all gatherings. When mentioning that I attended SCSU, many assume that I must be a heavy binge drinker by default. The ritual of homecoming in St. Cloud begins on Friday night and marathons its way through Sunday. People usually take it easy on Friday though because the big show is Saturday morning.

To a town soaked in liquor, the early Saturday sacrament of going to the bar in your pj’s at 8 a.m. is the big show. Those who can hold their liquor and make it through the night pass the initiation ceremony. The way to make it through is by pacing yourself.

As this was about my 5th homecoming, I knew coming in that I could make it the whole weekend. Friday began by arriving at the Red Carpet and watching St. Cloud’s most popular band, Hydrophonics. The way people follow TBT up here is similar to the crowd that Hydro gets to come out. They are hip-hop, but with the top back-up band in the state. It is like Wookiefoot with a better band behind them— not to say that Wookie has a sub-par band, but Hydro is tops. Their only drawback is that they have a few too many singers, and no one really has a voice that stands out. It is my belief that in a rap band, or any band for that matter the front man should have a distinguishable voice. I grew up with the likes of Snoop, Ice T and Cube, Busta, Bushwick Bill, Chuck D, and others. When I hear rap I expect a voice that grabs me, this way it is easier to sing along. Hydro lacks that lone front man that really stands out.

On Friday at the Red Carpet Hydro were in full form and rocked the house. Their music is danceable, and like Root City or Wookie, you get your money’s worth. Hydro also played on Saturday morning for breakfast and later Saturday evening.

So after getting home late on Friday we woke up early to get some free breakfast at the bar and stayed to watch Panoramic Blue. We soon left and headed to another bar to meet up with some friends. Arriving at the next bar we were treated to $1 hamburgers and $2 brats. This bar had no cover charge and also offered a taco bar after 11 p.m. like they do every Saturday. Across the street at The Rox (a frequent venue of The Alrights when they visit St. Cloud) they were serving free sloppy joes and chips to patrons for free. Again there was no cover charge and bands were playing later in the evening there.

Once afternoon hits on Saturday a few people watch the football game, but many go home to rest before taking on the evening. Later in the day I couldn’t find one person around town who had attended the game, but that is typical as the team has been horrible for many years. This is due to homecoming being more about the party than the football team.

One other difference this year was that the main street with the bars in town was blocked off by police officers. Years ago at bar closing the streets were full of people, now police officers corral everyone to the sidewalks and disperse the crowd.

When Saturday night finally came around it was Tim Mahoney on the main stage at the Carpet and Hydro in the Event Room. By this time of the evening the liquor was in full effect. While watching Hydro two guys in the front row began to push and shove the girls out of the way. This was odd as usually only girls are up front. Before too long the guys had pushed one girl to the floor and the bouncers had to escort them out. That was the only time I had been in a bar and seen guys begin to assault women to get up front. The bouncers stayed close when Hydro did a few rougher cuts and stage dove into the audience. As usual “Benton County Fair" was the highlight of their show, and rumors of a break up were circulating the room. Although don’t worry, the show at Luce the Friday before Halloween is still on.

Around town the word was that The Red Carpet was charging a $10 cover. The reaction from many locals was to skip the bar. When we went there it turned out to be rumor as the cover was only $5. Compared to Duluth, St. Cloud is smaller and has fewer bars. Yet I have never been to a bar that charged over $5 for a show. This is different from Duluth where many bars charge $5 on a regular basis. The bars also served food, music, and had nice drink specials. I get flack for saying that about Duluth’s cover charges, but every time I return to St. Cloud it makes we wonder why the bars up here charge so much for so little. The Carpet had Hydrophonics, Tim Mahoney, Dueling Pianos, Panoramic Blue, and many other bands all for $5. They also serve you breakfast, but only on the holiday of Homecoming.