Summer block parties in the Twin Cities

Festivus for the rest-of-us: Find the best of the local acts and big names outdoors in A&E’s 2013 guide to summer block parties.

by Joseph Kleinschmidt


Nothing spells the advent of summer like the local block party, a Twin Cities tradition. Even though the First Avenue and River’s Edge festivals were shelved this year, the Cities are alive with an oncoming slew of local garage bands for free and some big-name ’90s acts playing on hyped-up nostalgia. Standard festivals like Rock the Garden and the Basilica Block Party satisfy a mix somewhere in between — a blend of national and local acts headline both.

Newest is the Skyline Music Festival at Target Field. (Thankfully, no Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw on the field this year.) Whether you’d rather spend your money on beer while listening to some local jams or you’ve got the cash to see Soul Asylum at Target Field, now’s the time to start planning. So roll out your dingiest Pavement T-shirt or some swanky evening formalwear — A&E found the best fests for the highest and lowest spenders among us.


Freebies for the small fry:

Grand Old Day

Three miles of St. Paul sprawl gives a family spin on the beer-drenched block party, with possibly the most varied musical lineup of the summer.

When: Sunday, June 2, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Where: Along Grand Avenue, St. Paul
Cost: Free
Dixie’s Stage: The Amends, Tramps Like Us, Night Moves, Har Mar Superstar
K-TWIN Grand Garden Stage: The Melismatics, Skypiper, The Unlikely Candidates
Billy’s on Grand: Arc Flash Hazard, Butterface, Orange Whip, Hookers and Blow

Twin Cities Jazz Festival

Local jazz groups will also perform all around St. Paul, with concerts outside Union Depot, the Artists’ Quarter and Amsterdam Bar to name a few.

When: Thursday, June 27 – Saturday, June 29
Where: Mears Park, 221 E. 5th St. St. Paul
Cost: Free
Night One (Funk Night): RJ and the Soul, Black Market Brass, New Sounds Underground
Night Two: The Illicit Sextet, Ariel Pocock, Kenny Werner Trio
Night Three: Walker West Music Academy, JazzMN Orchestra with Connie Evingson, Matt Slocum with Walter Smith III, Cyrus Chestnut Trio

Uptown Pride Block Party

This zero-waste event capitalizes on a wide local music spectrum — from the acoustic folk of Chastity Brown to the sweltering post-rock of L’Assassins.

When: Friday, June 28, 6–10 p.m.
Where: Bryant Avenue and Lake Street
Cost: Free
Lineup: MC Foxy Tann, Epitome No Question, Southside Desire, Sick of Sarah, Dykes Do Drag, Chastity Brown, L’Assassins

Bastille Day Block Party

Celebrate French National Day in style with some of the best up-and-comers of the local scene and some punk mainstays. Also, cake will be served.

When: Sunday, July 14, 3-10 p.m.
Where: Barbette, 1600 W. Lake St.
Cost: Free
Lineup: John Mark Nelson, Lucy Michelle, Nadine Dubois, Sweetpea & Les Folies Risque, The Suicide Commandos, LEAGUES, MC Foxy Tann


Big tickets for the big spender:

Rock the Garden

The picturesque concert venue easily makes for the best place to see music this summer, that is, if you bought a ticket before all those 89.3 The Current listeners.

When: Saturday, June 15, 3-10 p.m.
Where: Walker Art Center/Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, 1750 Hennepin Ave.
Cost: Sold out (about $72 on StubHub)
Lineup: Metric, Silversun Pickups, Bob Mould Band, Low, Dan Deacon

Basilica Block Party

Praise the loud at the priciest music festival around town this year. Began in 1995 as a fundraiser for the structural restoration of the Basilica, you can still support the church through rock ‘n’ roll. Raise hell as you praise Him.

When: Friday, July 12 – Saturday, July 13, 5-10:30 p.m.
Where: Basilica of St. Mary, 88 N. 17th St.
Cost: One night: $45-50, two nights: $80-90
Night one: Father John Misty, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, Family of the Year, Matt Nathanson, Mayer Hawthorne, ZZ Ward, Churchill, Southwire, the Cactus Blossoms, Actual Wolf
Night Two: Sharon JOnes and the Dap-Kings, Goo Goo Dolls, Matchbox Twenty, Walk the Moon, Kate Earl, Cloud Cult, Van Stee, Bomba De Luz, On An On


Skyline Music Festival

Dubbed “the LP tour,” each act will play an entire album. Expect “Girlfriend” from Sweet, for instance.

When: Friday, July 26, 4-10:30 p.m.
Where: Target Field, 1 Twins Way, Minneapolis
Cost: $25 – $45
Lineup: Soul Asylum, Matthew Sweet, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, Gear Daddies


Extra credit for the festival freaks:


Stone Arch Bridge Festival

Red Stag Block Party

AmericanaramA Festival (Bob Dylan, Wilco and My Morning Jacket)