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Grand Old Days fe: Bridge Club, The Hold Steady, Olympic Hopefuls and Har Mar Superstar (Sunday, June 6th, 2005, Grand Avenue, St. Paul, Minnesota)

By David de Young

Har Mar Superstar gets wet at Grand Old Days - Photo by David de Young

It’s almost become a game. The trick is to go to to the HowWasTheShow anniversary
(aka my own birthday celebration) and still make it to Grand Old Days early enough on Sunday to catch the first band. With over 300 people at the The Turf Club Saturday night for the HWTS festivities, it was impressive how many of those same people turned out in force for the annual celebration along Grand Avenue in St. Paul.

When we arrived, Bridge Club was hard at work on the Dixies Stage. And they were L-O-U-D. I am downright proud of what these boys are doing lately, bringing the proverbial “rawk” in the spirit of Zeppelin and Iggy while not forgetting that people sometimes like to sing along. (Read an accurate review of their album Summer of the Jackal here.)

Next up was The Hold Steady, in town for a gig at First Avenue tonight (June 6th.) Craig Finn made reference to Guided By Voices who had played the Dixies stage on this day the year before saying they hoped they could drink even an 8th as much as they did. “God Bless those guys,” he added.

The Hold Steady on the Dixies Stage

Up the road at the Cities 97 stage the Olympic Hopefuls were fighting the heat in blue tracksuits, their new permanent attire designed by Allison Nassif for their appearance in Voltage: Fashion Amplified. It was awful hard to see at this stage, as usual. Will someone explain the logic of having the area in front of that stage slope downwards towards the road? Standing at the back you are a good deal lower than those towards the front. I had to hold my camera far above my head just to get my shot (below), and looking at the photo is the only way I could tell that drummer Eric Fawcett clearly made the wise decision not to suit up for this sweltering outdoor gig.

After a terribly sunny first part of the afternoon during which we all fought for shade, the sky started to change just before Har Mar Superstar came on back at the Dixies Stage around 3:30. “The Devil is bringing the rain, and I like that shit,” Har Mar announced as he took the stage in the white coat and tails he has been sporting lately.

Olympic Hopefuls on the Cities 97 Stage

A few songs into the set, the rain came down hard, and suddenly the show was all about the rain. A few people went running for cover, and we took that opportunity to move in closer to the stage in the spaces that had opened up. As the rain became a central theme Har Mar made it a part of the show. (It was raining so hard that even people who had ripped Cities 97 banners off the port-a-potty’s weren’t having any luck staying dry.)

“How many of you wet girls want to fuck me?” Har Mar asked during a break between songs after most of us were pretty drenched. The look on the faces of some Har Mar newbies was a priceless combination of shock and good natured amusement as they looked up at the short, wet, balding chubby guy on stage who had asked the question. Har Mar probably ended up wetter than anyone because despite being underneath the canopy on the stage, water was welling up on the roof and with occasional gusts of wind would come pouring down in bucketloads.

Musically, Har Mar played a decent straight-ahead show (did I hear a new song or two?) with Tony Bevilacqua on bass, Michael Bland on drums and his backing track. Would you believe I’m still not tired of hearing "EZ Pass?"

Har Mar remains in town this week to play to play Dames Don’t Care, the Nicole Defresne (http://www.nicoledufresne.com) Memorial Benefit at the Triple Rock on Saturday, June 11th along with Monarques, Melodious Owl and special guests Loud Louisa, Mia Malone, & The Bullwhip Circus of Robert Dante & Tina.

The spirit of Har Mar's performance Sunday is best captured by the photos below, so I'll just shut up now. Enjoy.

Words and pictures by David de Young.

David de Young is editor@howwastheshow.com