On Monday, April 24, the Walker and 89.3 The Current announced the lineup of Rock The Garden 2017. After last year’s staging at Boom Island Park, a full renovation and reopening of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is bringing the party home to the hillside. Eight bands occupy two stages for an unforgettable day of music as RTG veterans and new performers alike share their art, dedicated to a particular friend we’ve lost and all the ones we’ve yet to make. See you in the Garden.
Bon Iver, Fall Creek, WI
In one of the band’s first festival gigs, Bon Iver took the Rock the Garden stage in 2008, along with Cloud Cult, The New Pornographers, and Andrew Bird, and they haven’t played in Minnesota since 2011. We’re excited to have them back—this time as our headliner!
• The insanely intricate, heavily allusionistic index of symbols that composes the album art of 22, A Million—Bon Iver’s third, critically-acclaimed, Grammy-nominated, mind-bending feast of an album—was designed by MCAD-educated designer Eric Timothy Carlson. In a recent Walker interview, Carlson commented on the project:
Between the numerology, the metaphysical/humanist nature of the questions in 22, a Million, and the accumulation of physical material and symbolism around the music—it became apparent that the final artwork was to be something of a tome. A book of lore. Jung’s Red Book. A lost religion. The Rosetta Stone. Sagan’s Golden Record. Something to invest some serious time and mind in. Something that presented a lot of unanswered questions and wrong ways. A distant past and future. An inner journey somehow very contemporary.
• Imagine an adult version of camp with round-the-clock musical experimentation, collaboration, recording, and lots of booze. Actually, you don’t need to imagine it because Vernon gathered 85 of his best friends for exactly that at the Funkhouse studio complex in Berlin last fall.
• Vernon created a new instrument and named it after a sound engineer buddy. The “Messina” layers harmonies, transforming vocals and mellifluous sax tones into halting, gospel-sounding chords like a “futuristic pump organ.”
The Revolution, Minneapolis, MN
• The Revolution is turning Rock the Garden purple this year, and even though it would be cosmically just, we’re hoping it won’t rain. Be ready for a legacy performance that features original band members, special friends, seminal hits, and essential b-sides. Dance party, anyone?
• The Revolution’s best-selling album: Purple Rain, of course, with the virtuosic wonder of its title track and that neo-psychedelic opus, “When Doves Cry.” It peaked at number 1 on the Billboard 200, displacing Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A.
• Flashback to the band’s 1980s heyday as Prince and The Revolution filmed Purple Rain at First Avenue, creating arguably the most fantastic music movie ever. The producers scheduled four weeks for the shoot but the band was so tight it only took one.
Benjamin Booker, New Orleans, LA
• Drawing on a passion for eccentric soul, R&B, and blues—from William Onyeabor’s 70s African psych-rock to Freddie Gibbs and Pusha T—Benjamin Booker integrates disparate influences with his characteristic garage-punk intensity. While he didn’t play a live show until 2012, his star rose quickly as an opener for Jack White and after playing Letterman and Lollapalooza.
• Booker’s sophomore album, Witness, arrives on June 2. In an essay describing the inspiration behind the title track, the artist shares his thoughts on race relations in contemporary American society.
• Rolling Stone once described Booker as “Howlin’ Wolf’s scrawny, bipolar little cousin [who] discovered a fuzzbox. A Pop-Rocks-and-soda cocktail for anyone who’s ever wished for a younger, edgier version of Tedeschi Trucks Band.”
Car Seat Headrest, Leesburg, Virginia
• Led by Will Toledo (of Bandcamp fame), Car Seat Headrest released its first proper studio album, Teens of Denial, in May 2016. However, the album is actually the band’s thirteenth, and there is still over twelve hours of Toledo’s self-recorded music on Bandcamp available for streaming.
• Car Seat Headrest was The Current’s number-one New Artist of 2016, with the song “Drunk Drivers” reaching number 5 in the Top 89 tracks of the year.
• The New Yorker described Toledo’s emergence onto the indie-rock scene via the internet a “modern, indoorsy version of what it means to be young, testing your limits and pursuing ambitions in public, leaving the rough-draft version of yourself available for all to see. At its core is a sense of discovery.”
Dead Man Winter, Duluth, MN
• Dead Man Winter is the solo project of Dave Simonett, frontman of Trampled by Turtles, who played Rock The Garden in 2012. His debut album, Furnace, was recorded at the legendary Pachyderm studio in Cannon Falls, Minn., host to the likes of Kurt Cobain, Soul Asylum, PJ Harvey, Superchunk, and Mudvayne.
• Simonett enlisted a number of Minnesota music luminaries to help film the video for his single “Destroyer,” including Haley Bonar, Chastity Brown, Jeremy Messersmith, and Doomtree’s Lazerbeak and Sims.
• Dave Simonett’s Instagram is the most Minnesota thing ever. We’re all him listening to the Twins’ spring training games on the radio, scarfing down Glam Doll doughnuts, ice fishing, cracking jokes about “craft” beer, and hitting the slopes at Lutsen.
Margaret Glaspy, Red Bluff, CA
• Margaret Glaspy made one of last year’s strongest debuts. Rough, catchy guitar, personal lyrics, and beguiling vocals combine the “self-scrutinizing intimacy of Elliot Smith and the imaginative melodic intonations of Joni Mitchell” (Pitchfork).
• After getting her musical start in second grade playing the fiddle, a teenage Glaspy branched out into other instruments: guitar and trombone.
• Though fearless in taking on her musical career, she admits she does fear some things, namely “heights, avocados, and small spaces.”
Bruise Violet, Minneapolis, MN
• Named after a Babes in Toyland song—and following in the tradition of Babes, who played a blazin’ reunion show at Rock the Garden 2015—Bruise Violet is an up-and-coming grunge/punk female powerhouse, self-billed as “sugar, spice, and a kick in the teeth,” and “Broadway meets Bikini Kill.”
• We’d like to congratulate band members Bella Dawson and Emily Schoonover on their imminent high school graduation! That’s right, Bella and Emily are 17 years old, and drummer Danielle is 20.
Dwynell Roland, Minneapolis, MN
• Dwynelle Roland’s name is ubiquitous in the Twin Cities hip hop scene, as he was born in North Minneapolis and began rapping at the age of 13. His work is produced by Travis Gorman, who was just named best hip-hop producer in City Pages’ Best of 2017.
• Making the rounds as an opener for P.O.S.—who lit up Rock the Garden 2012 with collective Doomtree—Roland has been sharing his latest EP release, The Popular Nobody.
• Roland is a humble rapper, more interested in making relatable music than lofty “alpha claims of skill, wealth, and toughness.” He works as an HVAC technician in his off hours.