From Now Until Eternity
Early last week I came across Paisley Park After Dark’s digital promotion for a second Plectrum Electrum listening party at Paisley Park. Although the post didn’t say anything definitive about Prince making an appearance, special guests were to be in attendance (some guaranteed live music), a piece of merchandise was included in the $25 cover fee, and those who came would have the opportunity to listen to 3RDEYEGIRL’s new album before it even hit the internets. Having nothing better to do, I was sold on my second pilgrimage to Paisley Park Studios. Even if the mystical Purple Yoda didn’t make an appearance, I felt the chance thereof alongside with what I felt was already a justifiable party had me attempting to recruit some company. An additional teaser from 3RDEYEGIRL’s twitter stating, “SHHHHHH……..SOMEONE’S COMING!” only increased my excitement. Oh, and I suppose the fact that this past weekend marked the 30th anniversary of Purple Rain added some additional motivation.
By the time Saturday finally rolled around, I was ready and rarin’ to make my way out to Chanhassen. A handful of friends had expressed interest in joining, but I had yet to receive any firm commitments. If the night was to be anything like my last trip to Prince’s studio, it didn’t matter – I was prepared to fly solo. Eventually, my boy Pete stepped up to the plate. I had wingman! Not long after Eric made it a trio. Just an hour before go time my friends Stacy, Ted, and Al were on board as well. The six of us packed in Al’s Escape and hit the road ready for whatever magic was in store.
We arrived at Paisley Park right around 9:45. I was a little anxious as earlier that day it had been announced that Kandace Springs, a beautiful singer / songwriter / pianist from Nashville, would be performing at 9:30. The entry line extended maybe 100 feet out the door, but wasn’t nearly as long as it had been at my last visit… probably because we were late! While waiting Al, a first time visitor to Paisley Park, struck up conversation with the group standing behind us, “Oh man, are you guys excited!?” To which he received no response. Al, being the person he is, maintained his cheerful smile and asked again. This time our line neighbor responded, “This is a regular thing for us.” Ok… lines are often awkward, and random conversations with weird dudes exhibiting big goofy smiles aren’t always welcome, but Paisley Park a regular thing!? Psshhh… all the more reason to be excited! You sir had a better idea than most of what awesome potential was lying behind those open doors, now only 60 feet away.
Upon entry we made our way into the side performance room (to which I later would realize “NPG Music Club” is written on the carpeting), and were greeted by some excellent Jazz fusion. The room was fairly crowded, so I couldn’t really see what was going on in front, but listening wasn’t a problem. There was just enough space for my friends and I to work our way in and snag a piece of the dance floor. Providing us visual stimulation were picturesque nature scenes being projected on the walls in front and to the side of us. I was particularly excited by the band’s sporadic integration of what I recognized as the addition of a vocoder and an electronic wind instrument (Man. I love funk…). It took me a minute, but suddenly I realized that Prince might not be making an appearance. Perhaps the night truly was meant just to host some special guests and to lay down Plectrum Electrum. I tried to shake the feeling of defeat as I had been mentally preparing myself for exactly this throughout the entire week. A little more vocoder and some sexy bass slaps pulled me back into the moment, and just as I things in my crazy head were back to good, those illustrious 20 foot tall doors marked with Prince’s symbol started to open. The crowd spilled into the larger auditorium while the band finished out their set. I kicked my dance walk into gear and gave the first act, to which I am ashamed not to have caught the name, a hearty clap.
Seeing 3RDEYEGIRL’s stage setup adorned with Prince’s microphone had me grinning from ear to ear. It was all happening again! I hadn’t led my friends astray after all (although they had been sufficiently warned that this part would be an added treat)! Instead of bumping house music, we were almost immediately greeted by The Purple One and the 3RDEYEGIRLs who started their set rocking “Let’s Go Crazy.” I can’t stress the amount of showmanship and talent behind those on stage. I know it was only my second time experiencing Prince, Donna, Hannah, and Ida, but they effin’ ROCK! They, alongside Jack White’s performance at Bonnaroo, have single handedly restored my faith in Rock N Roll.
The night’s set included favorites such as, “Take Me With U,” “Raspberry Beret,” “U Got the Look,” and “Kiss,” but most notable were cameos from Marcus Anderson (sax) and Cassandra O’Neal (organ), as well as some stellar jams and solos from everyone that hit the stage. The set as a whole was very Jazz centric which was not too surprising as Prince and the gang just recently returned from headlining Essence Festival in New Orleans. In my previous Paisley Park write-up I admitted to only recently becoming a true Prince fan (I know, I know. Shake your fists), so when Prince made it quite apparent he wanted us all to sing along, all I could really contribute was a couple of choice lines and some dece dance moves. At one point Prince even had the lights turned on the crowd so that he could see everyone while they danced and sang along. I can tell you the night was an intimate performance, and that would mean something, but I swear, Prince looked into the eyes of every single person in that crowd. There was a connection. You simply don’t get that at stadium shows…
Kandace Springs was invited to the stage to perform, and my was she beautiful. Yea, she most definitely has the looks, but this girl can sing! As part of her introduction Prince asked us all to give her the respect she deserved as a guest. He gave a few reasons why, one of which was, “Y’all are respectful. I think you love music, and well, I think you love me.” Of course the crowd responded accordingly, but it really was a cherished and vulnerable moment; a moment that led perfectly into Kandace’s cover of “The First Time I Saw Your Face.”
After Kandace’s cameo the show continued its Rock N Jazz vibe, which included another amazing sax solo from Anderson. Prince eventually invited us all back into the other room, but not before having something to say, “You don’t have to be beautiful to turn me on.” His performance of “Kiss” broke into some of the smoothest dance moves I’ve seen to date (eff guitar lessons, I want prince to teach me to dance)! None of us really wanted to let go, even if we’d been provided with some really good “walking music.” Nonetheless, the set finally ended and my friends and I found ourselves sitting on the floor in the small performance room waiting for Kandace.
As already mentioned, Kandace has a beautiful voice, but she also has skills on the keys to match. I’m not sure if her backing drummer and bassist were hers or simply guests, but man were they good! I bore witness to hands down the coolest drum solo I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen some cool ones. There was some stellar bass work to boot. Although the whole set was superb, I especially enjoyed Kandace’s cover of Tupac’s “California Love,” of which she changed up some of the lyrics to be Minneapolis themed.
A couple songs in I noticed Prince had joined us as well. He mainly stayed out of sight stage right, but occasionally tampered with the sound board, picked up some sort of percussion shaker, and added some flair on the congas. A couple times he walked towards us in the front right corner of the room, and at one point actually cut into the crowd in order to check on something in the back. You know how everyone (at least in Minnesota) has their Prince story? Well I can now tell people that not only have I seen Prince live in an amazingly intimate setting, but I can also say my friend Pete and I stepped out of the way for the man. Not for his entourage, not for his body guards, but for Purple Yoda himself! Oh, and remember how I said we had come into the room and sat down on the floor while waiting for Kandace to start? Well, Eric never stood up. He was sitting right in front of me the whole time. As Prince brushed by he tilted over slightly and suggested Eric, “Wake up!” Now, I know Eric wasn’t actually sleeping, and was rather just being a silly wook taking in the show from the floor, but I don’t think I’ll ever let down the fact Prince yelled at him. Effing awesome!
Kandace finished out her set to a much deserved applause, and the party continued throughout Paisley Park. The DJ in the main room hit the decks, and I believe, but am not sure, that Prince provided a little assistance. My friends and I sort of mulled about between the two main rooms, got our dance on, and waited for the possibility of a second set. All the while the talent from the night, including the 3RDEYEGIRLs, mingled in the crowd. I wish I would have had the courage to tell Ida that she was a beast, Donna that it was a pleasure watching her shred, or Hannah that I’ve never seen such a wonderful smile sported while dominating the drums, but whatever… maybe next time. Next time you say? Yes. Next time. Why? Because Paisley Park from now until eternity my friends!
Article by Alex Stahlamnn
I Swear I Wasn’t Sleeping!
Paisley Park has got to be one of the best places on the planet to party with Prince. I’m beginning to fall in love with the place. Passing through the entry way always evokes a sense of peaceful excitement that never fades as long as you’re inside its walls. Saturday night’s party was another chapter in what I hope to be a never ending string of gatherings at the Purple One’s personal playground.
This was labeled a “listening party,” which in reality just meant an awesome album release party for the upcoming Plectrum Electrum release from 3RDEYEGIRL. This evening, the crowd of around to 400 was treated to a real live jazz set in the secondary room upon arrival; no DJ set, no waiting around for music to start. Obviously it was some good stuff because nothing but great music gets played in that place. The musicians were set up on the floor, no stage, so it was somewhat difficult to see the band but that didn’t detract from the party they were starting up.
The opening band hadn’t even finished their last song as the beatufilly symbol emossed doors swung open ushering us into the main room. As spoiled as it sounds I have to admit I’m not even surprised when I see the microphone stand adorning Prince’s symbol set up at center stage anymore, I just get a smile knowing I’m in for one hell of a time.
Two projectors once again shone giant clear and crisp visuals onto the back wall – psychedelic enough to please even the likes of Jimi Hendrix. I can’t remember how long we were in the room, but it was not long before the ferocious foursome sauntered on the stage ready to once again blow our minds. Hannah, Ida, and Donna were dressed in clothes I’ve become accustomed to seeing them in while Prince himself donned another piece of hard to describe attire complete with a tight knit hat and rather large round sunglasses.
At this stage in the game, the song selection from the band pales in comparison to their delivery. They could play just about anything within those four walls and it would be great. Prince has all day to set up the visual experience and it shows. Prince himself was bathed in the perfect combination of swirling and splayed lights. Somehow there’s always the right amount of smoke/fog for the lights to work at full capacity, though it never seems that way when the house lights are on. Getting to witness this setup just a few mere dozen feet from the man himself is a spectacularly intimate experience that is hard to replicate anywhere else. We in Minneapolis are lucky to have this place right in our own backyard when it could have easily been built anywhere else in the country. If you never make it to see this legend on his home turf you only have yourself to blame.
As Mark Mallman stated to the Current, this really was like a concert in reverse. Right before breaking into his last song, Prince told us we were going to be moving back into the smaller room to enjoy some original music from his friend Kandace Springs, whom he had introduced earlier in the set to play a song with his band (“I told her you all love music and I think, that you love me too” he had said with a smile). “This is walking music! Why aren’t you walking?” he said as “Kiss” kicked in. Of course no one was going anywhere until they were sure he was done with both his songs and the awesome dance moves he was busting out throughout the night.
While waiting for Kandace to start her set some patrons, including myself, sat on the floor while others gathered around the groups instruments set up on the floor (no stage) where the music had been playing earlier. I happened to find myself just a few feet away from a support pole that had been completely covered in black velvet. Man does this guy know something about décor! Well, when the music started and everyone stood, I realized I still had a straight view of Kandace and her bassist through the shallow crowd in front of me. I figured there was no need to stand as I could appreciate the music just as well from floor, and also for the fact the drummer and bassist were both sitting on chairs on the floor as well.
What I can say about Kandace Springs is she is an extremely talented artist with an absolutely gorgeous voice. So gorgeous in fact, that I soon found myself cross legged with closed eyes and chin resting in the palm of my left hand, just entranced by the silky honey… hanging upon every word she sang. Suddenly I felt the crowd in front of me part and I opened my eyes just in time to see someone passing by, pointing down at me and saying “Wake up, there’s no sleeping in here.” It took a second to figure out what just happened before I tried reaching backwards pleading, “No! I wasn’t… I was enjoying… awwww nooo!” It was too late, Prince was already gone. I then looked down to notice I was wearing shorts with a large rip in them and my sandals were half hanging off my feet. I made the decision sometime earlier this was appropriate to wear to Paisley Park?!? Shame and disappointment immediately washed over me. Next time I’m definitely dressing up.
That right there goes to show how intimate these events can get; when Prince feels comfortable enough to just walk through a crowd of his own fans. Adding to the sense of intimate fun, he even played a DJ set at the back of the main room after Kandace’s set was over. How fun is Prince you ask? Well he kicked off his set with (sounded like a remix of) “Wobble Baby.” Yup, line dancing soon broke out. In fact everything he played was badass. In fact all the remixes played in Paisley Park are flippin’ awesome. During the middle of the dance party a very sexual remix came on. Now I just listened to “Face Down” for the first time before writing this review and I’ll tell you it is nothing like the original. Let’s just say he was most definitely not talking to a male in this particular version. Prince is a very sexual creature to say the least.
I’ve never been disappointed by my voyages to the Park. In fact, I’ve been pleasantly surprised every single time. Did I happen to mention they played “Turn Down for What?” What??? Yea, that actually happened. This time we were all treated to a complimentary poster, either a Prince Essence Festival or Prince holding his symbol guitar trying to perform some sort of magical spell. I think that’s a pretty good deal for only $25. This show once again invigorated my spirit for true funky music. I can only keep my eyes upon the 3RDEYEGIRL twitter feed in hopeful anticipation that they will be doing this again, very very soon.
Article by Eric Severson
Prince & 3RDEYEGIRL @ Paisley Park 3/29/14
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Prince & 3RDEYEGIRL @ Paisley Park 10/5/13