On Monday I arrived late outside of Fitger's, just a little before 11 p.m. Sober and hungry, I stopped at the Chow Haul food truck and waited for my pork tacos while a man in a suit took selfies with random people using an old camera. A tall wiry man with wild hair rode a bicycle on the sidewalk behind me. Evidently his brakes had worn down to the metal and gripped the wheel rim with an abrasive screeching, stealing the attention of the two dozen smokers standing beneath Fitger's awning.
My food came, and I walked into the building beside a woman wearing heels, a pink blouse and white jeans. I wondered how all of us could be headed to the same place.
I wandered inside and shuffled behind a group of three women, who I came to find out were Duluth natives lost in the Fitger's complex. This is what struck me as the most incredible occurrence up to that point. I felt heavy with significance as I cashed in my homegrown ticket for a wristband downstairs at The Rex, and curiously looked at the bouncer who asked for my ID - it seemed odd that they would stop anybody from coming in. After all, this is Homegrown. The place was packed for The Boomchucks.
My first move was to the bar, and after a few moments, Don Ness stood beside me. It took me a few seconds to get over star shock, before I congratulated him on an incredible performance Sunday night kicking off the festival with his annual Mayoral proclamation. He laughed and graciously said thank you, then his attention was stolen by his next admirer, standing on the other side of him. I imagine that, over the past four years, Ness has not gone more than five seconds without seeing somebody he knows or being approached by some random bystander, like me, telling him they're a fan. His brother Jamie is the frontman for The Boomchucks, who rocked the Rex with a wide range of sound.
My friends, Graham Hakala and Emily Haavik, and I floated upstairs for Nopamine at Red Star, but never made it into the show. We chatted in a corner, and our antisocial habits were quickly noticed by a Finnish man named Eric and his friend Neal. That was one of the first things he said about himself--he was Finnish. Joe Oliveri appeared and joined our haphazard collection of homegrown friends. Joe co-owns a production company called Lola Visuals, and he told us his latest project involving a cross country trek to California where he was filming a documentary about the transformational effect of exercise on the mind of the mentally ill.
Around midnight I was unsure whether I should order another Hempen Ale or leave, but, being that it was a weeknight, I left. As I was walking to my car, I felt grateful for the first time ever that it was Monday and that six more days of weird homegrown nights awaited me.