After the success of last year’s expanded two-day Rock the Garden, The Walker and 89.3 The Current’s annual summer festival returns Saturday, June 20 and Sunday, June 21, 2 – 10 p.m. each day. The line-up will be announced periodically over the day today (3/10) on 89.3 The Current, check back for updates.
Artists #1: Saturday: The Stand4rd
Modern-R&B quartet thestand4rd are from St. Paul, Minnesota, but they sound like they could have just as easily been formed on the surface of Mars. The hypnotic, low-register crooning of 17-year-old Corbin (a.k.a. Spooky Black) drips down like honey to fill the blank spaces between Allan Kingdom’s staccato rapping, Psymun’s hiccupping beats, and Bobby Raps’ falsetto sighs—and just when you think you’ve figured out who’s doing what, they all swap roles to create a new configuration. Although they’ve already gained fans around the world (spurned by Spooky Black’s viral YouTube hit “Without You”), Rock the Garden will only be the group’s third performance in the Twin Cities.
Artist #2: The Ghost Of A Saber Tooth Tiger
The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger is Sean Lennon, son of artistic leading light Yoko Ono and the late John Lennon, and his songwriting (and real life) partner Charlotte Kemp Muhl. In April of 2014, the duo released their third record, Midnight Sun, on the artist-run and family-owned Chimera Music. In the past GOASTT has collaborated with GRAMMY-winning producer Mark Ronson and supported the spectacular Flaming Lips and Tame Impala on tour, and are consistently praised for their transcending and infectious live show.
Artist #3: Lucius
Lucius are a band from Brooklyn, acclaimed for their sweet, indelible indie-pop. Though the band have been active in various configurations for almost a decade, they had a breakout with their debut LP Wildewoman (2013), featuring the popular song “Turn It Around.” Live, Lucius are distinctive for the striking dual profiles of Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig, whose voices combine to create an intense, intimate experience for listeners
Artist #4: JD McPherson
Drawing heavily from 1950s rockabilly and blending it with punk and other influences, JD McPherson is turning heads and setting toes tapping with his catchy R&B originals. From his home in Oklahoma, JD reached out to Chicago bassist and producer Jimmy Sutton and the two hit it off instantly, releasing 2012’s Signs and Signifiers and following it up with 2015’s Let the Good Times Roll. A staff and audience favorite at The Current, JD McPherson and his band — Sutton (bass), Jason Smay (drums), Ray Jacildo (keys) and Doug Corcoran (guitar, sax) — have charmed with tunes like “North Side Gal” and the title track off their latest album. A former middle-school teacher, JD McPherson is sure to give the Rock the Garden audience a lesson in fun.
Artist #5: Courtney Barnett
This silver-tongued singer-songwriter already had an international hit on her hands when she broke out of Australia with “Avant Gardener,” so it seems significant that she’s only just now putting out her official debut full-length, a year after selling out the Varsity Theater for the first time. She’ll make her Twin Cities return armed with a fresh batch of tunes from her excellent Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit.
Artist #6: Seun Kuti and Egypt 80
Seun Kuti & Egypt ’80 are a fiery Afrobeat band led by the youngest son of the legendary Fela Kuti, who founded Egypt ’80 and led the band until his death in 1997. Seun, who was then only 14 years old but already an experienced member of the band, became the band’s lead singer and has carried his father’s musical legacy into the 21st century. The band’s most recent album, A Long Way to the Beginning (2014), “contains pointed and insightful lyrics that demand your attention but still makes you want to move,” says the CBC.
Artist #7: Conor Oberst
Although he’s only 34, Conor Oberst has been a singer-songwriter and recording artist for more than 20 years, having performed with the bands Bright Eyes, Monsters of Folk, Desaparecidos and as a solo artist. In addition to touring and recording, Oberst has helped start two record labels and has collaborated with artists such as M. Ward, Jim James, Dawes and First Aid Kit. Oberst’s most recent album is his 2014 solo effort, Upside Down Mountain. As one of indie rock’s most prolific and beloved acts, Conor Oberst can expect the Rock the Garden audience to sing along with his thoughtfully crafted tunes.
Artist #8: Babes In Toyland
Influential Minneapolis rock trio Babes in Toyland are back in business after a decade-plus hiatus. Founding frontwoman Kat Bjelland has rejoined forces with powerhouse drummer Lori Barbero and bassist Maureen Herman (who joined the group when they signed to Warner Bros. in 1993) to reignite their fiery catalog of heart-pounding punk rock tunes. Their set at Rock the Garden will be the band’s first hometown show since 2001.
Artist #9: Belle & Sebastian
Formed in Glasgow in 1996, Belle and Sebastian have garnered a large and loyal global fan base through their infectious pop songs laced with whip-smart lyrics that often tell vivid stories about intriguing characters. Belle and Sebastian’s discography comprises nine studio albums as well as two compilations and two live collections. Their most recent release, Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance, is earning critical acclaim and winning the hearts of The Current’s listeners. The seven-piece Belle and Sebastian are sure to delight their longtime fans while gaining many new ones at Rock the Garden.
Artist #10: Modest Mouse
In March of 2015 Modest Mouse release Strangers to Ourselves, their sixth full-length and first studio album in more than eight years. The Current hosted the online premiere of the first single, “Lampshades on Fire,” in December 2014 to critical acclaim, peaking at #1 on Billboard’s Adult Alternative chart shortly thereafter. Modest Mouse consists of founding members Isaac Brock and drummer Jeremiah Green, longtime member and multi-instrumentalist Tom Peloso, Grandaddy guitarist Jim Fairchild, Lisa Molinaro of Talkdemonic on strings and former Man Man bassist Russel Higbee.