They have rocked St. John’s Block Parties, Thursdays on First sets, private parties across our area, and a host of gigs around the world.
Cloud Cult, the headliners, play experimental chamber rock with lyrics that touch on philosophical and spiritual issues, while opening act Enemy Planes plays a dreamy mixture of indie rock and electronica they have dubbed “tripnotic.” Both are based in the Upper Midwest — Cloud Cult from Viroqua, Wis., by way of Duluth, and Enemy Planes from Minneapolis.
Craig Minowa, lead singer of Cloud Cult, pens deep, honest, and soul-baring lyrics, many of which are an attempt to find answers about the unexpected loss of his 2-year-old son in 2002. The band’s deep tunes are unpacked onstage with a complex live show that features nearly two dozen instruments and a pair of live painters interpreting the music in a visual way.
“We treat every performance like a spiritual ritual and seek to have some kind of catharsis during the course of the evening,” Minowa said.
That spiritual catharsis is a draw for many Cloud Cult fans.
“It will be epic to say the least,” said Ryan Keller, a fan of the band since he and his wife moved to Rochester from the Dakotas. He first heard them at St. John’s Block Party. “I know if people are going to see them for the first time, they will become a new fan of the band as well,” he said.
Cloud Cult’s forays into visual expression are expanding past their renowned stage show. With the release of their latest album, “The Seeker,” earlier this month, they also produced a full-length film of the same name. Josh Radnor of “How I Met Your Mother” fame, was involved in the production and the band is gearing up to tour the film around film festivals over the next year.
“We’ve had a few albums with story-lines tied to them, but this is the first one where we decided to tackle that story in film,” Minowa said.
According to Enemy Planes drummer Joe Call, his band has a handful of new songs to debut at the show, along with cuts from their debut album, “Beta Lowdown,” which gets a worldwide release on March 26 on Rock the Cause Records.
Fans like Keller appreciate the “home-grown” aspect of the bands, and says knows people willing to drive four hours to see Cloud Cult.
“It’s like seeing old friends each time you see the guys,” Keller said.
Both bands have a special relationship with Rochester. Minowa’s father’s family lives just outside Rochester, and a portion of the band grew up in nearby communities, including Owatonna (Minowa, his wife Connie Minowa, and painter Scott West), Austin (violinist Shannon Frid), and Waseca (drummer Jeremy Harvey). The band played three times at the St. John’s Block Party and have been back for other occasions. Similarly, Enemy Planes has a history with the Block Party, and recently played a few private house parties here.
“Whenever we get to come back it truly does feel like we’re coming home to see family. We just love the people,” said Enemy Planes lead vocalist, guitarist and synth player Casey Call. “We’ve been all over and it’s not always as easy to find places like this as one might think. For our money, we think everywhere should be a little more like Rochester.”
“After the show, the folks at Grand Rounds invited us in for a beer and we ended up staying all night. Lifelong friends were made for sure,” says Enemy Planes vocalist and keyboard player Kristine Stresman.
Tickets to the show are $25.