Launched in 1998, Rock the Garden has gone through plenty of changes—from an intermittent, on-the-street jam to a 10,000-fan party on the Walker’s hillside to an off-site two-stage affair at Boom Island Park in 2016. In 2017, this popular summer celebration returned to the Walker campus and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, which marked the completion of the reconstruction of this beloved civic destination. Rock the Garden 2017 featured two stages and welcomed eight bands as concertgoers enjoyed a full day of music and art in the Garden.
Four years before winning dual Grammy awards, Bon Iver opened Rock the Garden 2008 as the “local” act. The now world-famous singer/songwriter returned to headline Rock the Garden in 2017, along with the Prince-founded legendary funk band the Revolution; Los Angeles singer/songwriter/guitarist Benjamin Booker; breakout indie rock act Car Seat Headrest; folk-rock group Dead Man Winter; one of the strongest female debuts in the last year, Margaret Glaspy; and local groups Bruise Violet and Dwynell Roland.
Minnesota Public Radio’s 89.3 the Current and the Walker Art Center could not mount such an ambitious festival without the help and support of a village of allies. Chief among these in 2017 are our lead sponsors—Love Your Melon, Polaroid, and the University of Minnesota. The U of M, a stalwart underwriter of Rock the Garden, returned for its 4th year as a lead sponsor. Enlivening each event with engaging activations that included visits from three-time National Mascot Champion Goldy Gopher, the University of Minnesota is a committed partner to both MPR and the Walker. Joining the U of M again for its second year as a lead sponsor is Polaroid, the iconic American brand that is synonymous with photography. Polaroid will be celebrating its 80th anniversary and has teamed up with Rock the Garden’s newest lead sponsor, Love Your Melon, to provide unique photo opportunities for festival attendees across the campus. Love Your Melon, the homegrown Minnesota company committed to giving 50 percent of its profits to fighting pediatric cancer, brought its own flair with activities and fun to Rock the Garden in 2017.
“We want to thank our Rock the Garden Lead sponsors for their support and making this celebration of the new Garden particularly festive,” says Walker executive director Olga Viso. “We are very fortunate to have such a committed community of corporate citizens that make an event like Rock the Garden possible.”