Britt-Daniel-by-Darin-Kamnetz @Darin_K_

I was so amped to attend the Rock The Garden music festival last weekend! RTG is an annual event held on the grounds of Walker Art Center in Minneapolis in cooperation with MPR station, The Current. While this was the first year the event ran two days, I was only able to make the second day. The line-up included Valerie June, Kurt Vile and The Violators, Dessa, Guided by Voices and was headlined by Spoon.

What started out as a potentially stormy day turned into a gorgeous evening and one of the most satisfying shows I’ve been to in awhile. I’m generally not much of a music festival person, but the VIP Green Room Tickets made the stuff I hate about festivals very tolerable—complete with vegan food options and a fancy bathroom! Yeeesss!

Valerie June

Tennessee native Valerie June, kicked off the day with a set of folk/blues melodies under a gloomy sky. I had only heard the title track of her critically acclaimed album, Pushin’ Up Against A Stone (A crowd funded venture!) so I wasn’t sure what to expect from the live show. June’s voice is beautiful and her set was equal parts R&B and old country. I did not realize she was a southern girl until I saw her live! She is a unique artist and I will definitely be picking up the new album.

Kurt Vile and the Violators

Then it was on to Kurt Vile and the Violators. I was way in the back getting my merch on (They didn’t have any GBV t-shirts—bummer!), but even from there, I could see all that hair! If you don’t know who Kurt Vile is, you may know his other band The War On Drugs. Vile pumped up the atmosphere a bit with a lot of thick sounds and strumming guitars. His music sometimes reminds me of The Church. My favorite Kurt Vile tune is Jesus Forever.


Next up was Minneapolis native Dessa! The Doomtree collective member wooed the crowd and even the cameramen as she poked fun at the Jumbotron and her days doling out gelato samples in the grocery isle. The hometown crowd returned the love, cheering and dancing. Set highlights included a foray into the crowd; a cameo feature with Cecil Otter on Little Mercy and the Doomtree hit, Dixon’s Girl. To the delight of fans, Dessa hung out in the green room for ninety minutes after her set!  

Guided by Voices by Darin Kamnetz @Darin_K_
Guided by Voices by Darin Kamnetz @Darin_K_

Guided by Voices

Guided by Voices packed twenty-five songs into their wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am set! Robert Pollard quipped about playing Minneapolis a bunch of times and never seeing Paul Westerberg (He often pokes fun of local celebs in this way.) called us “you kids” a bunch—which I will take any day of the week—and slammed out hit after hit in just an hour. I pretty much could have walked away after hearing Teenage FBI and been the happiest person alive. The GBV catalog is so immense that you never know what you’re going to get, but I was really happy with the set and so glad they played a show they could have easily headlined.


Spoon closed out what turned out to be a gorgeous summer night. It was one of those magical rock show moments where the weather was perfect, the band seemed to be thoroughly enjoying playing, and the crowd loved every song. Spoon’s new album They Want My Soul, isn’t out until August 5th, but they played a few tracks, including Rent I Pay, which I’m loving.

I’m looking forward to the promised taped stream from The Current (available next weekend), so I can give another listen to some of the new tracks I don’t yet know, including the first song they played called Knock Knock Knock and Rainy Taxi. The set was heavy with hits from Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga but they covered all the album territory well, including Got Nuffin from Transference and Jonathan Fisk, the final song in the encore from Kill The Moonlight.

What a perfect night it turned out to be! It’s not often I get to brag about my hometown since the music section of this blog is focused mostly on tours/albums and not local events, but it made my day to see Spoon’s tweet this morning:

There is something really special about Minneapolis. The fans are passionate about good music and the indie scene is thriving in every genre. You should come visit. And no, you can’t sleep on my couch!

For complete set lists, visit

Special thanks to photographer Darin Kamnetz @Darin_K_ for the Spoon featured photo and Guided by Voices shot!