Minnesota roots run deep at Rock the Garden

REVIEW: Saturday's concert outside Walker Art Center sold out in an hour with a mostly local lineup.

Like most of the attendees at Saturday's Rock the Garden outside Walker Art Center, Kris Hoff had no idea who was scheduled to perform when he logged on to buy tickets in April -- all 10,000 of which sold out in an hour, before the full lineup could be revealed.

"It just has a built-in reputation," said Hoff, 29, of St. Paul, who was pleasantly surprised when the 2012 artist roster wound up being four-fifths Minnesota-rooted bands, including the Hold Steady, Trampled by Turtles and Doomtree. "They've had good lineups in the past, but nothing like this. It's awesome."

That much was agreed upon by fans, musicians and organizers alike at the 10th installment of Minneapolis' trendiest concert of the summer, co-curated by Minnesota Public Radio hipster outlet 89.3 the Current. As Current jockey Mary Lucia noted while introducing Minneapolis-reared kick-off band Howler, "It takes a village." Howler added to the local flavor by opening with a song by local legends Hüsker Dü.

Watching the show's only band without local roots, New York's loopy art-punks tUnE-yArDs, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak beamed over the mass turnout.

"It's almost as if they raised the bar by going with the local bands," he said, while noting his appreciation for tUnE-yArDs: "That's what the Walker is all about, turning you on to things you didn't know anything about before."

With rain giving way to sunshine just before gates opened at 3 p.m., fans comfortably spread out over the grassy hill next to the Walker and lined up at the surrounding concession stands -- especially the beer stands. Organizers made a big push toward making this year's RTG a zero-waste event, but Aaron Richey of Minneapolis complained about the lack of water-filling stations for reusable bottles.

"So we just got in line for beer," said Richey, who added, "Being 'zero-waste' takes more than just having cute girls stand next to recyclable bins."

String pickers Tim Saxhaug and Dave Carroll of Duluth-reared neo-bluegrass quintet Trampled by Turtles bragged before taking the stage that it would be their biggest crowd ever in Minneapolis, which was also true of headliners the Hold Steady. Said Saxhaug, "It's quite an incredible place for it to happen, too."

Follow Riemenschneider on Twitter: @ChrisRstrib

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  • Doomtree's Sims reacts to the crowd as the third performance of the evening at the 2012 Rock the Garden concert in Minneapolis, Minn. on Saturday, June 16, 2012.

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