The pride of Pennyroyal

Both Pride organizers and performers agree: Live music is at the heart of the festival.

Angie Oase of the band Pennyroyal poses with her bike on Sunday. Pennyroyal will be playing at Twin Cities Pride on June 28th. In addition, Oase plans on riding her bike with Dykes on Bikes, a lesbian motorcycle club, during the parade at Pride.

Lisa Persson

Angie Oase of the band Pennyroyal poses with her bike on Sunday. Pennyroyal will be playing at Twin Cities Pride on June 28th. In addition, Oase plans on riding her bike with Dykes on Bikes, a lesbian motorcycle club, during the parade at Pride.

Joe Kellen

Initially, the Twin Cities Pride Festival elicited more questions than answers for Pennyroyal frontwoman Angie Oase. There was some discomfort and disconnect as she dealt with being gay and the varying representations of the GLBT community.

But that was the past, and while Oase is still shy, she settled into her identity and her place as the songwriter, guitarist and lead vocalist of local rockers Pennyroyal, who will play the Pride Fest’s Rainbow Stage on Saturday.

“I think it’s important for girls and even boys to see a woman on stage,” Oase said. “Pride is so eclectic, and we’re a rock band. That’s what’s important. If people want to guess if a specific member of the band is gay, that’s irrelevant to me.”

This year’s Pride focuses on music more than ever before, with 80 live acts performing across four stages in Loring Park. Both Saturday and Sunday are packed with local and national acts ranging from hip-hop to house music to drag shows. Lee Henderson, Pride’s artist relations coordinator, sifted through 300 applicants to decide which acts would play the festival this year.

“I lead our musical jury,” he said. “I think we’ve done a good job of spreading the love amongst all the stages. It’s not just the main stage this year, which I think is a big accomplishment.”

Henderson attributes that success partly to a grant awarded by the Minnesota State Arts Board that exists specifically for festival support and to give institutions the opportunity to showcase local artists at their events.

He said the grant was crucial in keeping Pride free for everyone who wants to attend, though the headlining sets cost $10 for patrons who want to stay for the bigger acts, which include Betty Who, Steve Grand, Thelma Houston, Thea Austin and Rich B.

Henderson said the number of people that show their support by attending the festival and engaging with its activities continually blows him away.   

And for a band like Pennyroyal, this type of crowd is ideal.

Kim Laurent-Lusk, Pennyroyal’s manager and longtime friend of Oase, said the welcoming atmosphere of Pride makes it an opportunity for bands to gain a considerable number of new followers.

“Angie’s stage presence is different from when I first saw her,” Laurent-Lusk said. “She used to play with her back to the audience, but she owns the stage now.”

Oase said that local music culture gave her a community in which she could flourish, and she hopes Pride will be an extension of that community. Twin Cities Pride Executive Director Dot Belstler maintains that the convergence of the GLBT community and its allies is the most crucial part of this event.

“A lot of times there’s a person who identifies with the community that’s in the band. It’s so meaningful for LGBT folks to be able to say ‘Here I am,’” Belstler said. “A lot of people think of Pride as coming home … and for people to perform on a stage in that environment is really empowering.”

 

What: Pride in Concer
When: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday
Where: Loring Park
Cost: Free, or $10 general admission to headlining acts