Festival Review + Photos: Rock The Garden 2013 (Minneapolis, MN)

Dan Deacon (Baltimore, MD), Low (Duluth, MN), Bob Mould (San Francisco, CA), Silversun Pickups (Los Angeles, CA) and Metric (Toronto, CA)
June 15th, 2013
Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, MN

Spoiler: I will speak negatively about a band from Duluth for the first time ever.

Full GalleryRock The Garden 2013

The Walker Art Center and 89.3 The Current brought us another installation of “a very sold out” Rock The Garden on Saturday. The lineup was as diverse as the weather, as were the opinions over one band’s performance.


At last year’s RTG, the sky threatened rain, but this threat came up empty. Yesterday’s skies did not issue a threat, it was a promise. Opener Dan Deacon was set to perform in front of the stage and in the grass, but conditions were not in his favor. Fifteen minutes before he was supposed to go on, Dan had an idea. The parking garage that was being used for a storm shelter soon became his multi-level stage. With an echo check of “POP!” being performed by several thousand drenched concert goers, Deacon launched into “Crystal Cat”. He later had a circle formed in the middle of the crowd, and had a tag-team kind of dance party going. As his set wound down, so did the rain, and the Walker Art Center hill was soon to be alive with the sound of music.




Here is where things get interesting. Low has been a band that I’ve wanted to see for a while, and today was the day. Would they play “Lazy”, “Plastic Cup”, or even “Monkey” as I had hoped? No. They did however play one song… for the entire set. The usually 14 minute song ““Do You Know How to Waltz?” droned on and on for over 30 minutes in some sort of self-fulfilling statement. Back in 1951, Joe DiMaggio stated “There is always some kid who may be seeing me for the first or last time, I owe him my best.” This was my first time seeing them, and this was not their best. It could not even be considered good, in my opinion. I know others will feel different, and that is fine, to each their own. I really enjoy Low’s music. Alan Sparhawk is usually terrific live, but this band’s “performance” was truly a disappointment.



Like Superman suddenly stopping a disabled airplane from plummeting to earth, Bob Mould came out of the gates with heroic amounts of rock and roll strength. They played songs from his current band’s catalog, dipping back into Sugar and Hüsker Dü‘s library as well. He and his band that laid out a show with so ferocity it would make some bands on the Vans Warped Tour blush. I’m sure the people on The Current appreciated it as well as the entire concert was being broadcast live.





Silversun Pickups were on next and stretched a bit more than Mould before the running section of their set. Armed with replacement bassist Sarah Negahdari of The Happy Hollows, they worked into “Skin Graft” and stumbled slightly out of the blocks on “Well Thought Out Twinkles”. Once “The Royal We” was under way, lead singer Brian Aubert had a wild look in his eyes and the band continued to put together a solid rock set.



As the sun set over Minneapolis, Metric took the stage. “I’m just as fucked up as they say” seeped through the speakers as Emily Haines began what would be a tremendous set with “Artificial Nocturne”. The band’s neon domino-looking lighting created an arena feel as the sky dimmed and the extremely catchy “Youth Without Youth” was played with extreme precision. Haines worked the stage as much as possible when not behind her synths. Later in the set, the crowd gave a loud cheer as one of 89.3’s favorites “Help I’m Alive” started. This was followed by another radio staple “Synthetica”.


The audience was so into the songs as the set proceeded that they did not want some to finish. Finishing touches were put onto “Breathing Underwater” and a sing-a-long continued on. Haines soon joined in and it continued for at least another minute. “Very nice” was her reaction and there was an eruption of cheering.


Sadly, the show had to wrap due to city noise ordinances, so all but one of Metric’s encore had to be scrapped. They did however finish with a very cool acoustic version of “Gimme Sympathy”. Simply put, this band blew me away, what a fantastic live band!





Despite it’s Low point, Rock The Garden 2013 had many high points and great performances. I’d be willing to bet Metric will be playing First Ave’s main room, two nights in a row next time they return.

Special thanks to Andrea Swensson of The Current for the set lists.

Dan Deacon Set list:

Crystal Cat
Konono Rip Off No 1
Get Older

Low Set List:

Do You Know How to Waltz?

Bob Mould Set List:

The Act We Act
A Good Idea
Hoover Dam
Star Machine
The Descent
Round the City Square
Steam of Hercules
Your Favorite Thing
Celebrated Summer
Charted Trips
Keep Believing
If I Can’t Change Your Mind

Silversun Pickups Set List:

Skin Graft
Well Thought Out Twinkles
The Royal We
Bloody Mary
Busy Bees
Mean Spirits
The Pit
Panic Switch
Dots and Dashes
Lazy Eye

Metric Set List:

Artificial Nocturne
Youth Without Youth
Speed the Collapse
Dreams So Real
Help I’m Alive
Breathing Underwater
Sick Muse
Dead Disco
Gold Guns Girls

Gimme Sympathy (acoustic)

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