Monday, June 20, 2011

In Review: Rock the Garden 2011

By Natalie Gallagher
Photos by Erik Hess//content share via How Was The Show

Rock the Garden manages every year to be that place where Twin Citizens run into absolutely every single person they have known since their tenure on “the scene” began, and Saturday’s massive music bash did not disappoint in that regard. I watched as the sea of concert-goers schlepped around in their galoshes and ponchos, shuffling from the beer line to the Chef Shack line, alternating between muttering about the shitty weather and repeating uplifting phrases like, “It’s not actually that bad!”

The weather certainly had an effect on the fashion for the day, as looking out across the field at 4 p.m., amidst a gentle wash of droplets, all I could see was a colorful ocean of yellow, pink, and blue ponchos in varying shades. To some degree, it felt like we were all musical refugees and the Walker was our camp; everyone looked vaguely pathetic and bedraggled, not boozed enough to really enjoy anything.

Nothing a bucket of fries and a pint or eight of trusty Summit can’t fix, really.

So Tapes ‘n’ Tapes kicked off the musak moshing at 4:15 on the dot, and they brought back a lot of material from The Loon and Outside, which was great for the half-committed crowd that assembled itself for them. I spent most of my time accidentally stepping on people and then realizing I knew them.

As the day wore on, the terrain of the Walker field became wetter and muddier as the rain was like a slutty slutski, coming in and out in a veiled tease of what might come if we stuck around long enough. Some people ditched the poncho in favor of the very boho garbage bag ripped with armholes, and it was like seeing the rise and fall of a fashion trend within 7 hours as the rain gear became increasingly more elaborate as people had time to kill before anything really exciting happened. I saw one girl wearing what appeared to be a Victorian ensemble assembled out of three black garbage bags and a plastic ribbon. (At the end of the night, when the weather eventually tapered off to a nice damp, sticky, non-drizzling state, these magic rain outfits would disappear to reveal, uh, jeans.)

So while the crowd was caught somewhere between fear of storms, hope for sun, and buzzily trying to locate the single vodka tent, Booker T. Jones introduced himself to the young audience with the funky jams that made him legend, deliciously delving into “Green Onions” three songs into his set. It’s the kind of slow-jamming, soulful sort of music that sounds like one of the most face-meltingly hot days of summer instead of one of the muggiest days of fake-summer, but all the same, Booker T. is a Hall of Famer and worth a listen any damn day.

By the time Neko Case took the stage, the music refugees had been stuffed with enough corndogs and booze to blearily make it through her whiny set. The Tweeps, press peeps, and all other peeps generally agree on this: Neko Case bantered too much, and it wasn’t even good banter. It was like, sarcastic “oh sorry to be an afternoon bummer” snarky banter, said quietly whilst she was tuning her guitar, and it just came off as insincere and snotty. Also, she appeared to have some kind of root or plant attached to her hair. Or maybe it was just four different barrettes. Anyway, kind of disappointing, though hearing “Man Eater” was rad.

Whilst waiting for My Morning Jacket to take the stage, the rain clouds mysteriously disappeared. At the top of the hill, there was a fantastic view of the downtown skyline, with steam rising up through the crevices between the buildings like…well, I’ll let you take the analogy wherever you want it to go.

One of the more memorable moments of the evening happened when the Current’s Mary Lucia came over the PA to announce that there was a lost child named Dominic. Parents could claim him, said Lucia, “ironically enough, at the vodka tent”. That’s summer in the city for you, I guess.

For all the relative lackluster and general muckiness of the day, MMJ really nailed it. They are one of the most appropriate outdoor festival bands, and helped redeem RTG 2011 from its previous two years with some rather uninspiring headliners (2009 featured the Decemberists, 2010 with the lukewarm MGMT). The mass of concert goers took to them well; ponchos were ditched once and for all, and as My Morning Jacket closed with the essential “One Big Holiday”, the good and hearty people of Minneapolis (and beyond) exited, happily buzzed, with a young night ahead of them.


Our own Jahna Peloquin also took some crowd photos of the hotties in the crowd:

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