The Current and the Walker Art Center have just announced the lineup for this year’s Rock the Garden event, and this year the festival is taking a mostly local approach. Of the five acts playing this year’s event, four have direct ties to Minnesota — The Hold Steady, which is led by Minneapolis native Craig Finn, plus Doomtree, Trampled by Turtles, and Howler — with only one act from outside the state, tUnE-yArDs, filling the final slot.
Obviously, The Current is my employer and today wasn’t the first time I’d heard about this lineup, but my opinions on this blog are my own and I have no qualms about being candid. Initially, I was surprised by this lineup — it seems like the organizers are taking a risk by booking five solid, heavy-touring mid-level acts in lieu of pulling in an obvious “headliner” and three support acts. But after mulling it over, I think this decision makes sense. Rock the Garden has never had trouble moving tickets (the event traditionally sells out during the pre-sale, which is only available to members of MPR and the Walker), and it seems logical for an event that aims to be community-oriented to showcase acts from its own backyard. Also — and I’ve said this before, so forgive me if I sound like a broken record — the Minnesota music scene is experiencing a period of incredible growth and prosperity. Bands are breaking out nationally and touring successfully in higher quantities than ever before. It seems like a good time to put our money where our mouths are, as it were, and show the population at large what we’ve got.
Four of the acts playing Rock the Garden this year could sell out venues the size of First Avenue any day of the year, and Howler has gotten so much press in the Twin Cities this year they could practically have their own weekly publication. It seems like this lineup is meant to be a showcase of excellent Minnesota bands (and tUnE-yArDs!) that have made headlines in town and are on the radar of even the most casual of local music fans, and to invite the community to gather and experience some of these notable acts live.
What do you think of this year’s lineup?
Related: The Walker’s Doug Benidt just published an interview with Craig Finn.