Third-base line plays host to '90s rock bands at Skyline Music Festival
MINNEAPOLIS -- It was described as unique, picturesque, gorgeous and, above all, intimate.
Target Field is no stranger to hosting concerts, but Friday night the venue was the setting for a more relaxed experience with an unparalleled backdrop as it played host to the inaugural Skyline Music Festival.
Four '90s bands -- the Gear Daddies, Matthew Sweet, Soul Asylum and Big Head Todd and the Monsters -- played to a sellout crowd of 6,752 with the Minneapolis skyline crowning the stage.
Target Field has hosted two previous concerts -- both highlighted by Kenny Chesney -- while opened to crowds of more than 40,000 people. For the Skyline Music Festival, only seats along the third-base line and in the first two levels were open to attendees, with the stage just down from third base. The setup created an intimate outdoor experience that left fans wanting more.
"One of the reasons we're here is because it's here," Ben Stedman of Excelsior, Minn., said.
"I think they should have more concerts like this here."
And Stedman was not alone in that sentiment. As local bands Soul Asylum (Minneapolis) and the Gear Daddies (Austin, Minn.) played to hometown fans and their contemporaries helped take the crowd back in time with their classic '90s rock, many fans felt it was the perfect setting for more concerts of a similar size.
That was the Twins' hope. With the Skyline Music Festival, they were hoping to introduce a venue for the midsize concert market in the Twin Cities.
"It's interesting to only use a portion of the stadium, because in the past we've only done larger concerts here for like 40,000 people," said Chris Iles, a senior manager of the Twins Corporate Communications. "So to have a concert for 6,000 or 7,000 is a bit different. As I'm looking out over it now, this is a pretty sweet backdrop for anyone who wants to come see some awesome tunes. To see the Minneapolis skyline in the background is a very unique setting, I think."
The midsize venue also can cater to different acts or bands and niche crowds, as one fan put it. Even Iles described the event as a "throwback concert."
While fans were left wanting more, David Pirner, lead vocalist and guitarist of Soul Asylum, was initially nervous about playing in his hometown stadium.
"It was super exciting, because I hadn't been to Target Field yet," Pirner said. "So when I heard we were going to play here, I got kind of scared. But when you walk in through the back way, I was like, 'Man, that's the way you want to come in the first time to this.'"
As everyone soaked in the outdoor setting and the skyline, Pirner also soaked in the baseball traditions -- between perfectly cut grass to vendors selling peanuts, hot dogs and all other snacks and refreshments.
"I love this setting," said Sara Rohe of Eden Prairie, Minn. "It's a little more grown up, a little more slower paced. ... This seems a bit more intimate. The stage is closer to you and stuff.
"We're cheering for more."
Kelly Erickson is an associate reporter for MLB.com.