Rock The Garden is a telltale sign of the musical community we have in the Twin Cities, and the thousands of people that love to be a part of it. Organizations like Minnesota Public Radio and the Walker Art Center are a support system to this scene that we should never take for granted.
Along with thousands of others I rode around on a bike all day Saturday, consequently having commuter issues and walking through the gates just as the first act, Howler, finished up. I’m bummed to have no response to their set, but we can’t dwell on the past, right?
Admittedly I have not previously been a fan of tUnE-yArDs, though I was pleasantly surprised by the performance that Merrill Garbus and Co. put together. The energy was fantastic and the crowd roared over popular tunes like “Bizness” and “Gangsta.” Adding a saxophone section to the live set was a smart move that enhanced Garbus’ looping ideals, and it really made the sound sparkle.
Doomtree was on a whole different level than the others they shared the stage with that day. It was the first time Rock The Garden has ever incorporated hip hop into the festival, and who better to debut than Minneapolis’ favorite collective? They came out hard with “Bolt Cutter,” which is a slightly odd choice to open with but it worked. Halfway through the highly energetic set Dessa Darling admitted to keeping the first half free of obscenities due to a live broadcast and expressed the difficulty in holding back a bit. They may have held back on the four letter words, but by no means did they hold back in a performance. Doomtree easily put on the most eclectic set of the day.
I had a suspicion going into RTG that Trampled By Turtles would be the real clincher for the crowd. That just might have been accurate had Doomtree not detonated a gigantic dance party first. TBT started out with “Alone” from their recent album Stars and Satellites; everyone in my vicinity immediately belted out in true sing-a-long form. At the risk of sounding sappy, it was the first point in the day that I felt a real community vibe amongst the audience as opposed to just a connection between fans and artist. TBT is the type of band that can make just that happen. The acoustics were really great; the highlight was a banjo instrumental mid-set with Ryan Young coming in a close second for working wonders on that fiddle. An all around wow, TBT finished beautifully with “Wait So Long.”
Then the skies opened up and The Hold Steady rained down upon us. These dudes are like a sacred act in Minneapolis and most either love them or hate them. The musical component was fantastic, but in terms of entertainment I found Craig Finn’s incessant pointing a bit distracting. The audience appeared to be a decisive split; those that had waited all day for The Hold Steady and were losing their shit, and those that could care less about The Hold Steady and slowly packed up their belongings to beat the traffic out of the gates. The band embodied the spirit of this city’s rock and roll history on the stage, and the appreciation for them ultimately showed.
All around, it was sort of an awkward festival full of superb acts. To go from a couple indie outfits, to an explosive hip hop collective, to a brilliant bluegrass group, and finishing with rock and roll, was a great representation of genres complete with goofy transitions. That said, the entire festival was loads of fun. One big cheer for Minnesota Public Radio, The Walker Art Center, the sponsors, the volunteers, and the fans. Well done, and here’s to next year’s Rock The Garden.
By Laura Yurich
Rock The Garden:
The Hold Steady
Trampled By Turtles
Saturday, June 16 2012
Walker Art Center
Posted 11 months ago