Start the summer music season

Shirtless sweaty dudes, plastic beer cups, wristbands–it must be summer, even though it doesn’t feel like it out there. But the tunes will be blasting soon enough, starting June 1 with Grand Old Day. I’ve always had mixed feelings about this mother of all street festivals on St. Paul’s Grand Avenue, block upon block of (usually) heatstroked masses along with an unusual number of cops–unusual until you see, as I have, fights breaking out toward the end of the afternoon. But the music has typically been worth it. And this year I’m still of two minds: just a couple years ago, you’d have to toggle between stages to catch nationally known acts like the Hold Steady, the Hopefuls, and Soul Asylum. Now, some of the bands seem more youthful, edgier perhaps, but also less distinctive: Doomtree’s Dessa and P.O.S. are great, with growing followings, but if you aren’t finding opportunities to hear them in town every couple weeks or more you’re not paying attention.

I’m personally more excited about the Finnegans ShamROCK 2008 festival outside the Cabooze on June 7: not only is the headliner the great Built to Spill (yes, of course I’m showing my age here), with Romantica, A Night in the Box, the Ol’ Yeller Band and others on tap, but all proceeds from the beer sales benefit a local charity.

See you out there. Keep yer shirt on.