Rock the Garden always kicks summer into high gear, and now the Walker Art Center and 89.3 The Current have made it bigger and better. This year’s line-up of cutting-edge indie rock bands will play to crowds spread out along the Walker’s grassy hillside “amphitheater” overlooking the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden on Saturday, June 20, from 3–11 pm. The Walker and The Current have once again partnered with Eureka Recycling to make this year’s Rock the Garden a zero-waste event. This rain-or-shine event is sold-out.
Headliners Colin Meloy and his
cohorts have carried their theatrical pop to new heights with the critically acclaimed 17-song rock opera The Hazards of Love. “There’s an odd bond between the music of the British folk revival and classic metal,” says Meloy. “A natural connection between, like, Fairport Convention and Black Sabbath—of course, Sandy Denny from Fairport even sang with Led Zeppelin on The Battle of Evermore. I think there’s a shared sense of narrative and ambience, of moving beyond the first person in one’s writing. And I thought it would be interesting to mess around with that.”
The band’s fifth album, The Hazards of Love, represents the most glorious kind of messing around. It’s the most ambitious and most accomplished project to date from the Portland-based quintet of Meloy, Chris Funk, Jenny Conlee, Nate Query, and John Moen—a full-length song cycle rooted in ancient language and imagery, yet entirely modern and
accessible. The follow-up to the group’s 2006 breakthrough, The Crane Wife (which The Current listeners voted their favorite album of the year), The Hazards of Love solidifies the Decemberists’ standing as one of the most innovative and important creative forces in music today. Onstage, Meloy’s captivating story-songs are matched by the band’s consummate showmanship, as their devout ranks of fans can attest.
Rounding out the bill are bands who share the Decemberists’ eclecticism. Since forming
in 1990, Joey Burns and John Convertino have remained restless musical adventurers, mining the themes of the American Southwest; their latest, Carried to Dust, has been hailed as a burst of experimental folk-pop. There’s always been intrigue and adventure at the heart of Calexico. Ever since they were a largely instrumental duo experimenting with their unique collection of instruments and soundtrack sensibilities, Burns and Convertino have constantly imbued their music with an unparalleled sense of drama, calling upon the myths and iconography of the American West and its Spanish-speaking neighbor Mexico, equal parts Sergio Leone, Larry McMurtry, Carlos Fuentes, and Cormac McCarthy. Naming themselves after a town near the California/Mexico border in honor of this cultural mélange, they’ve spent the 18 years since they met in Los Angeles mapping out musical territory that had otherwise been neglected or considered the preserve of historians. On Carried to Dust, they have defined that sound, calling upon almost two decades of exploration and an ensemble of musicians that has been heralded as one of the great American bands of the 21st century.
Trafficking in what they call “Middle Eastern-psych-pop-snap-gospel,” the Brooklyn-based
merges spirituals and synthesizers in propulsive, polyrhythmic songs; they conjure ancient traditions while looking toward an alternately bleak and bright future in songs such as 2080, which put the band on numerous critics’ radar.
Jump-starting the all-ages Garden party are local electro-rockers
, who are buzzing worldwide. During a recent UK tour, NME described their hit Get Over It as “exquisite spectral disco and a slow-burn favorite in the making.” The release was produced by Ryan Olcott (12 Rods, Mystery Palace) and recorded on a shoestring budget, in apartments, basements, cabins, and farms. Standing out against the monotonous tide of indie-rock, Solid Gold has found success abroad, headlining sold-out shows in Reykjavik at Iceland Airwaves, and growing popularity in the London club scene. The aim of their beat-heavy music however, is not Eurocentric. It retains a distinct Americana vibe, rooted in acoustic guitar and piano. On their latest effort the band continues to explore unique instrumentation entering the realm where digital and analog meet as a focused sound of the future.
Between sets, enjoy live broadcasts from The Current’s DJs, stroll through the world-famous Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, and sample an expanded mix of food, beer, and other refreshments for sale. There will be a great mix of food and beverages to tempt concertgoers. Taulelle Concessions will provide hot dogs, corn dogs, pork chops, and fries; Haagen Dazs will be scooping 12 flavors of ice cream; Joe’s Garage will be serving fresh and toasted baguette sandwiches; Vincent A Restaurant will be making mini burgers; Middle Eastern flavors will be represented by local favorites the Holy Land Deli; Jerry’s Fresh Lemonade will provide cool beverages and shaved ice; and vegetarian options will be available. All of the great food will be complimented by beer served by Summit.
While general admission tickets may be sold out, supporters of MPR’s Leadership Circle and Walker Sponsor-level members and above can still enjoy exclusive VIP access to Rock the Garden as a special benefit of their membership. Each member may purchase up to four VIP passes per household. Passes include one concert admission and complimentary underground parking. For more information or to join, contact the development departments at either MPR (minnesota.publicradio.org/support/individual/leadership_circle.shtml) or the Walker (support.walkerart.org/index.wac).
Through careful planning and the participation of everyone involved—from organizers to vendors to concert-goers—the organizers of Rock the Garden aim to reduce waste generated at the event. In keeping with Eureka Recycling’s message that “Waste is Preventable,” waste generated at the event will be either recycled or composted (if not prevented in the first place).
Eureka Recycling, a locally based nationally recognized nonprofit organization specializing in recycling and waste reduction, provides innovative ways for people to experience firsthand the possibility that waste can be prevented. Providing zero-waste event services for over eight years, Eureka Recycling demonstrates that waste at events can be completely eliminated through careful planning, recycling, and composting.
The Current began in 2005 as a non-commercial, member-supported Minnesota Public Radio station. Since then, the award-wining station has grown into a far- reaching community, and its Web audience includes members from around the world. Wherever it’s heard—on the radio, on the Internet or through an iPod—The Current brings listeners the best authentic new music alongside music that explores its roots and influences.
89.3 The Current’s Special Programming Dedicated to Rock the Garden 2009
The Current Live from Rock the Garden: Saturday, June 20, 12 noon–7 pm
89.3 The Current broadcasts live from the Walker Art Center the day of the show. Join the entire Current air staff as they get everyone wired for the show with interviews from the artists and other audio treats.
Rock the Garden Live: Sunday, June 28, 5 pm
Mark Wheat hosts a special one-hour show, recapping the event and including the best performances from the Rock the Garden concert.
: 89.3 The Current is heard on KCMP 89.3 FM in the Twin Cities, KMSE 88.7 FM in Rochester, and streamed live worldwide at thecurrent.org.