Don’t rap the boat, baby

Local hip-hop artists plan floating concert on the Mississippi River

Megan Kadrmas

Ahoy, homeboys and b-girls, and welcome aboard the S.S. Hip-Hop.

For all those rap scene aficionados who are through with spending every Friday at a house party or in a downtown Minneapolis venue, every Saturday at the Dinkytowner and every Sunday trying to figure out a better concert itinerary for next weekend, a rare concert scenario is coming your way.

And here it comes, drifting down the mighty Mississippi.

hip-hop river boat

Riverhop Boat Party, featuring: Kanser with More than Lights, DJ Espada, Mike the 2600, DJ Anton, Out of Bounds, DJ 34

WHEN: The boat leaves at 10 p.m., Friday, Sept. 28
WHERE: Harriet Island boat dock, St. Paul
TICKETS: 21-plus, $20 advance, $25 at dock, Fifth Element (2411 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis), Mind State Distribution (319 14th Ave. SE., Minneapolis), Electric Fetus (2000 Fourth Ave. S., Minneapolis)

Kanser with More than Lights, Mike the 2600, DJs Espada and Anton, Out of Bounds and others are playing in a moving, floating venue Friday night.

Austin McGregor, half of the organizational team that conceptualized and materialized the Riverhop boat party, said he was looking for large venue space when a friend suggested the river boats.

“This is the fifth event we’ve planned,” McGregor said. “We knew we wanted it to be big and the boats just seemed like a good match.”

The musicians themselves don’t know what to expect either. DJ Anton said he has never performed on a boat before, but he hears that things get pretty crazy.

“I have no idea what to expect,” he said.

Josh Holmgren, saxophonist for More than Lights, said his band has never played on a body of water before, either.

“We don’t know what to prepare for, but we’re going to rock it any way,” he said.

McGregor said he’s been planning the event for about six months, but didn’t start really hammering out the details until about three months ago. He had to line up acts, rent the two boats, coordinate the bands with the boats and the trip length, set ticket prices, create flyers and pass them out.

The boat, which has a pretty strict departure time of 10 p.m., essentially holds its audience captive for the night. There is no way to get on the vessel after it launches or to leave the concert early.

Unless, as DJ Anton jokingly suggested, you use a canoe to paddle out to the boat mid-journey.

“Everyone is stuck on the boat, for better or worse, I guess,” he said.

This could play in the event’s favor, with a lot of people coming and (unavoidably) staying for the entire show. However, people could also be deterred from attending because of their lack of options once they are onboard.

Another issue is safety. With four bars, a complimentary drink with each ticket and a large body of water being integral to the night.

“I’m bringing a life vest because you always have to be practice safety with the Mighty Mississippi,” DJ Anton said, adding he’s also packing an inflatable escape boat for his expensive equipment, just in case the boat sinks.

Holmgren and band mate Matt Unga are also worried about the safety of the event.

“Someone’s going to drown,” they jokingly fretted. “We just know it.”

McGregor, however, assured that the concert was safe. He said that a large staff and a host of off-duty St. Paul police officers with CPR training will be onboard to make sure the night doesn’t end in tragedy.

“They’ve also got pretty sturdy handrails,” he said. “Safety won’t be an issue. And it’s going to be a fun time, supporting a good cause, supporting local hip-hop.”