Thursday night's street party and all-night dance party at First Avenue won't be soon forgotten, either by those who could attend or those who followed the story online. A crowd thousands-strong flooded First Avenue and Seventh Street, both celebrating and mourning Prince Rogers Nelson: his life, his spirit, and his music. Now, several videos of local musicians' live performances from that night are available online. Experience or relive four songs, plus a "Purple Rain" crowd sing-along, below.
Chastity Brown's "When Doves Cry" was a steamy, lush interpretation of one of Prince's biggest hits. Wearing sunglasses, Brown sang over an implacable drumbeat and exuberant keys.
Wearing the purple suit he always performs in, Cameron Kinghorn (of local jazz band Nooky Jones) aced "How Come U Don't Call Me Anymore?," a song that the FADER noted was written by a grieving Prince. Kinghorn hit the song's incredible notes, making several jaws drop in the crowd. Kinghorn and the rest of Nooky Jones will be performing Prince songs at the Fitzgerald Theater on Friday to preface the Films at the Fitz's sold-out Purple Rain memorial screening.
Between performances, St. Paul's mayor, Chris Coleman, spoke on "mourning the loss of one of the greatest artists in the history of the universe." DJ Shannon Blowtorch explored Prince's contemporaries' catalogs; Michael Jackson's "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)" and Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody," especially, gave the crowd an opportunity to shine in the face of tragedy.
Following Blowtorch's set, Lizzo waded through the Purple Sea to get from the Depot restaurant to the stage. The rapper had flown into the Twin Cities just that day for the tribute, and drawing from her experience covering Prince at the Fitzgerald Theater last year, she performed a speech-defying version of "The Beautiful Ones." Clearly, the song was special to Prince, since he recently announced he'd write a memoir that shared its name; it's also dear to Lizzo, and she kept her composure with beauty and grace while she paid tribute to the legend and his city. "I love you so much, Prince," she said. "Thank you so much for what you did for all of us."
The crowd needed to gather and dance, but they also needed express pure mourning. Two emotional "Purple Rain" experiences capped the street party: first, a sing-along to Prince's original song (which was actually recorded live). Outstretched hands paired with lifted voices as the swaying crowd belted it out. And later, those in the streets enjoyed a jamming, somber performance by Chastity Brown, tiny deaths, PaviElle, Sarah White, Lizzo, Cameron Kinghorn and deM atlaS, who took turns pouring out their lines