Austin’s Gear Daddies back on the big stage

The Gear Daddies open up the Skyline Music Festival Friday night at Target Field in Minneapolis.  Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

The Gear Daddies open up the Skyline Music Festival Friday night at Target Field in Minneapolis.
Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

An Austin-grown Minnesota institution was back on the big stage Friday night in Minneapolis.

The Gear Daddies opened the first-ever Skyline Music Festival at Target Field, marking the latest reunion of Austin’s native sons.

Martin Zellar performs with the Gear Daddies Friday night at Target Field in Minneapolis.  Eric Johnson/ photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Martin Zellar performs with the Gear Daddies Friday night at Target Field in Minneapolis.
Eric Johnson/
photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Though Martin Zellar and the Gear Daddies amicably split in 1992, the band has been reuniting intermittently ever since.

“It’s always great,” Zellar said before the show. “It’s like family; it really is.”

Former Prince and the Revolution drummer Bobby Z, who hosts “The Sound of Minnesota” from 8 to 9 p.m. every Sunday on 96.3 K-TWIN, introduced the Gear Daddies.

“They’re institutions here,” he said.

Fans warmly welcomed the Gear Daddies back to Minnesota. Though the first of four bands, the Gear Daddies didn’t feel like a typical opening act, as dozens wore Gear Daddies shirts. The band drew loud ovations from the crowd, and many boisterous fans stood, danced and sang along, especially to “(I want to drive the) Zamboni,” not seeming to mind that the song featured in “The Mighty Ducks” and at NHL hockey games was played from a baseball field.

The Twins organization used this concert to see how a smaller show would do after country star Kenny Chesney sold out Target Field two straight summers. Though the concert was a sellout with about 7,000 attending, most of Target Field was empty. Seating was limited to about a fourth of the stadium along the third base line with no seating on the field. The stage was set up in foul territory near third base, giving fans a view of the stage and the downtown skyline.

Each band performed one of their classic albums in its entirety: Matthew Sweet played “Girlfriend,” Soul Asylum played “Grave Dancers Union,” Big Head Todd and The Monsters played “Sister Sweetly,” and the Gear Daddies played “Billy’s Live Bait.” Those records all date from the early ‘90s, and it looked like the vast majority of fans in the crowd were in college when the discs first hit the shelves.

At least a few fans in attendance made the trek from Austin to watch the Gear Daddies. Austin residents will have another chance to see Zellar in concert next month.

Martin Zellar & The Hardways will perform during the Austin ArtWorks Festival on Aug. 24 at  Marcusen Park. Tickets for the concert, which will also feature Cloud Cult, are $20 before Aug. 1, and $30 after. For more information or to buy concert tickets, visit www.austinartworksfestival.org.

In Austin Living Look to the upcoming August issue of Austin Living for articles on Martin Zellar and Cloud Cult leading up to the Austin ArtWorks Festival

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

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