On Tuesday, April 5, the Walker and 89.3 The Current announced the lineup of Rock the Garden 2016. Due to construction at the Walker, this year’s concert will be held on Saturday, June 18, 2016 at Boom Island Park in near Northeast Minneapolis, and will feature two alternating performance stages for our eight amazing bands. We liveblogged the announcement all morning, and you can see the entire list of bands below, along with a few fun facts about them.
The Flaming Lips, Oklahoma City
- The Flaming Lips are currently celebrating the 20th anniversary of Clouds Taste Metallic, the album that saw them shift from scrappy alt-rockers to the psychedelic weirdos we know and love. This year they’re releasing that album’s alternate mix, an 8xLP box set, and maybe even a new record to boot.
- “Do You Realize?” was officially adopted as Oklahoma’s State Rock Song from 2009 to 2011, a designation that has only been given out by one other state: Ohio, for the McCoys’s kitschy “Hang on Sloopy.”
- Need proof of how much the Flaming Lips love collaborating? Artists from six of the last eight years of Rock the Garden have worked directly with the band: Modest Mouse, Spoon, Dan Deacon, My Morning Jacket, MGMT, and Bon Iver. Not to be discounted, 2009’s Calexico once played an entire concert as the Flaming Lips, leaving 2012 the sole exception (which could easily be rectified with a FLips/Doomtree collab).
Chance the Rapper, Chicago
- Chancelor Bennett has become one of hip-hop’s biggest successes at only 22. He recorded some of his first raps on an outdated laptop used by the 2008 Obama campaign, and he released his breakout 2012 mixtape 10 Day during a ten-day school suspension in his senior year.
- Chance rode the wave of false-alarms drama surrounding Kanye’s newest record, The Life of Pablo, initially snubbed, then blamed for the record’s tardiness, and finally dropping a triumphant verse on epic opener “Ultra Light Beam.”
- If The Current ever entered the realm of reality TV, we’d have the perfect pitch: Chance shares an LA residence with electronic artist (and collaborator) James Blake.
- Locals may recognize the name of the group’s most recent LP, United Crushers, from the graffiti on the side of a grain elevator east of the University of Minnesota campus, but it’s an appropriate title to be shared by the album’s eerie, defiant, and politically aware style.
- Singer Channy Leaneagh and her partner Ryan Olson have another big project in the works: parenthood! Their son Schwa was born in October and is already living the life of a baby rock star, as evidenced by the group’s Instagram.
- Parenthood and political action collide in the group’s fascinating video for “Wedding,” set in an alternate Sesame Street where adorable puppets talk to children about the realities of discrimination and police brutality.
M. Ward, Portland
- If the mid-June weather turns less than ideal, it might not phase this artist, whose recent eighth album is called More Rain. The Line of Best Fit called it “a therapeutic record, one where you can see through the darker moments to when the clouds begin to clear.”
- Ward’s vintage sound comes with his devotion to analog recording. He told Time that every song begins as a demo on the same 4-track recorder he’s been using since his teens.
- Many may be more familiar with Ward as half of She & Him, alongside sitcom sweetheart Zooey Deschanel. The actress cast Ward as a coffee-shop curmudgeon (or maybe just himself?) in a colorful video she directed for the duo, but unfortunately, a role for him on New Girl has yet to follow.
Hippo Campus, Minneapolis
- Minneapolis’s most recent breakout band have already toured extensively, appeared at festivals like Reading and Lollapalooza, and sold out a headlining show at First Ave. The group’s median age? Around 21.
- A set at last year’s SXSW caught the eye of a Conan music supervisor, who invited the band to play on O’Brien’s TBS late-night program only days later.
- Despite the success, the group’s Wikipedia page remains humble: the article makes a point to list the quartet’s “street names” of Turntan, Stitches, Espo, and Beans.
Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, Hermann, Mo.
- Nathaniel Rateliff and his band have been launched into the spotlight after a Late Night performance of their single “SOB,” a barnstorming country-soul anthem that’s actually a tongue-in-cheek recounting of the singer’s experience with alcohol withdrawal.
- Among the single’s fans are Britney Spears, who posted a video of her dancing to the video to Instagram. Rateliff responded in kind.
- Rateliff’s career began upon his move to Denver, but he spent his childhood in Hermann, the “sausage-making capitol of Missouri.”
GRRRL PRTY, Minneapolis
- GRRRL PRTY, the local hip-hop supergroup of Lizzo, Sophia Eris, Manchita, DJ Shannon Blowtorch, and Quinn Wilson, closed out 2015 with a collaborative EP with producer Bionik, who in turn plans to feature the group on his own forthcoming solo EP.
- Lizzo has been busy since appearing at Rock the Garden two years ago: a new album, songs on Broad City and Barbershop: The Next Cut, and appearances on late shows hosted by David Letterman and Stephen Colbert.
- The rest of the crew is keeping plenty busy as well: Eris and Blowtorch host a monthly DJ night at the Nomad as TAWST, and hype girl Wilson (as half of the art direction duo Q+A) contributes to promo material and videos for GRRRL PRTY, Lizzo, and others (including the Poliça video above!).
Plague Vendor, Whittier, Calif.
- This LA-area punk quartet just released their sophomore album, BLOODSWEAT, a little over a week ago. It was recorded with engineer Stuart Sikes, who also manned the board for another raucous, gritty garage knockout: the White Stripes’s White Blood Cells.
- While the group’s name invokes images of pestilence and death, lead singer Brandon Blaine actually attributes it to misreading a Mexican folk tale entitled “Plaque Vendor.” Of course, many can attest that dental plaque can sometimes be just as bad as biblical wrath.
- When asked what genre the band would classify themselves as, they choose the label “Graveyard Groove.”
Tickets are on sale to Walker and Current members starting today, Tuesday, April 5 at 10 am. Any remaining tickets go on sale to the general public on Wednesday, April 6, at 10 am.
Mark your calendar and make sure that your Walker membership is up to date. Walker/MPR membership ID numbers will be required for all pre-sale purchases.
Walker membership: 612.375.7655 or membership.walkerart.org.
MPR membership: 1.800.228.7123 or mpr.org/support.