Festival Review + Photos: The Current and Walker Art Center Presents Rock the Garden 2012 (Minneapolis, MN)

Howler (Minneapolis), tUnE-yArDs (Oakland, CA), Doomtree (Minneapolis), Trampled By Turtles (Duluth, MN), The Hold Steady (Brooklyn, NY)
June 16th, 2012
Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, MN
89.3 The Current 

Full Gallery: Walker Art Center Rock the Garden 2012

The stage was set for one of the biggest shows of the summer and all eyes were on the sky. Would Rock the Garden be a muddy mess just as the weather terrorists told us it would be, or would the storms miss us and it end up being a beautiful day?


Howler was the first band on the bill for the day. As the crowd was steadily filtering their way in, the kicked off their set with a quite decent rendition of Hüsker Dü’s “Don’t Want to Know if You Are Lonely”. After that though, the stage banter was awkward and the set of originals lacked the punch that the HD cover started with.

Howler Set List:
* Don’t Wanna Know if You Are Lonely (Hüsker Dü)
* Pythagorean Fearem
* This One’s Different
* Black Lagoon
* I Told You Once
* Wailing (Making Out)
* Beach Sluts
* America
* Back of Your Neck


tUnE-yArDs was a big pleasant surprise for me. To be totally honest, I did not know much of their material and I actually thought the lead singer was a guy. I also thought Geddy Lee was a woman when I first discovered Rush… it happens. Suffice to say, I did not go into this show without previously going to their Facebook Page and giving it a “Like”. Merrill Garbus has such a unique delivery and vocal styling that it was engaging enough on it’s own. Add to that her incredible work with looping and the ravenous fans with face paint to match and there was so much to love about what was going on.


tUnE-yArDs Set List:
* Party Can
* You Yes You
* Esso
* Powa
* Real Live Flesh
* Gangsta
* My Country


Doomtree became the first Hip Hop act to grace the Rock the Garden stage. With the first half of the set being broadcasted live on radio, the MCs had to bite their tongues in a collective effort to offer up a clean set. Besides pulling this off with a few classics like “Traveling Dunk Tank” and ” The Wren”, “Low Light Low Life” was third on the list. This was traditionally a set closer, but they had something else in mind today.

Once the radio-friendly set was over, all of the previously withheld profanities were unleashed in “No Way”, the first track to 2011’s No Kings The aggressive crew song was a fire cracker stuck in the mouth of arguably the best set of the day.

Doomtree’s Set List:
First Half – Clean For Radio
* Bolt Cutter
* Bangarang
* Low Light Low Life
* Grime
* Beacon
* Slow Burn
* Traveling Dunk Tank
* The Wren


Second Half – Uncensored
* No Way
* Drumroll
* Creeep
* Little Mercy
* The Seamstress
* Burn It Down
* Get Down
* Team The Best Team


I would like to take a moment to reflect on how amazing the new song “Get Down” by P.O.S. (featuring Mike Mictlan) is, and will be, on his new album We Don’t Even Live Here dropping September 18th. To hear the chorus kick in and, more hands go up and people start jumping is one thing, but to hear so many yell back “Yeah!” was straight up overwhelming.

Trampled by Turtles

Trampled By Turtles followed Doomtree, because that’s how we roll in Minneapolis: Hip Hop, then Bluegrass. Fact is, mixed bills like this are pretty common. One thing I did notice happening between sets is that different people would rotate to the front depending on who was performing on stage. You always had fresh faces cheering for the new band.

TBT started out with the slow building “Alone” and went into “Walt Whitman”. Later in the set, I noticed a lot of the people on the hill-top were moving their blankets to the side so they could get up and dance. When Ryan Young and Dave Carroll played the intro to the ever popular “Wait So Long”, a huge cheer went up. This song is from 2010’s Palomino and still makes everyone lose their minds and control of most of their body.

Trampled by Turtles

Trampled By Turtles Set List:
* Alone
* Walt Whitman
* It’s a War
* Keys to Paradise
* Widower’s Heart
* Help You
* Sounds Like a Movie
* Victory
* The Calm and the Crying Wind
* Separate
* White Noise
* Darkness and Light
* Midnight on the Interstate
* Wait So Long

Craig Finn of The Hold Steady

Craig Finn of The Hold Steady (THS) have been a staple of The Current for years. Between this band and the more recent Baseball Project, his distinctive voice can be heard and his love of the Twin Cities is very apparent. I had never caught THS live so I was not sure what to expect. During the song “The Sweet Part of the City” he says the line “We like to play for you”; it’s a major understatement. Absolute joy oozed from every pore of  his body, and at times too visibly excited and overwhelmed to find the proper words to express his emotions.

We were told that Rock the Garden had a strict noise curfew of 10PM, and that The Hold Steady would abide by this and not play an encore, but play right up to 10. Craig spent some time during the set explaining how excited he was after seeing headliners My Morning Jacket last year, and how he wanted to play this year’s show so badly.

The highlight of their set for me was “Southtown Girls”, a much richer and rock-laden version than what you’ll find on the album.

The Hold Steady Set List:
* Constructive Summer
* Hot Soft Lights
* Hurricane 3
* Guys Go for Looks, Girls Go for Status
* Swish
* Rock Problems
* Sweet Part of the City
* You Can Make Him Like You
* Chips Ahoy
* Stuck Between Stations
* Cattle
* Sequestered in Memphis
* Wait a While
* Multitude of Casualties
* Weekenders
* Hoodrat
* Southtown Girls
* Positive Jam
* Killer Parties

Craig Finn of The Hold Steady

If you would like to hear highlights from Rock the Garden 2012, 89.3 The Current will be broadcasting it next Sunday (6/24) at 4PM CST. You can stream The Current here or download the Minnesota Public Radio App from the iTunes Store here.

Full Gallery: Walker Art Center Rock the Garden 2012

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