Just like the headlining act Father John Misty’s knack for quickly shifting from a damp ballad to a fiery rock tune, Saturday’s weather made for quite a dramatic adjustment for music fans at Walker Art Center’s annual fundraiser concert, Rock the Garden.
One minute, rising jazz giant Kamasi Washington was sound-checking in a light drizzle at 2:30 p.m. after gates opened — a sonic test delayed by stormy weather earlier in the day — and about 15 minutes later Philadelphia rocker Adam Weiner of the band Low Cut Connie was playing a sun- and sweat-drenched set to fans hurriedly searching for the sunscreen at the bottom of their tote bags. “You can’t say we didn’t make it pungent today,” Weiner cracked as his hard-boogying group heated things up all the more.
Weiner’s fellow performers didn’t let the sweltering heat taint their late-afternoon sets. Country-rocker Nikki Lane dressed for the occasion in a one-piece combo that was part bathing suit and part Nudie Suit of classic country music fame. Washington, conversely, wore his trademark thick knit cap and brazenly/cosmically declared, “The sun is our friend.”
Speaking of swiftness and tote bags, Rock the Garden’s co-producer 89.3 the Current and its parent nonprofit organization Minnesota Public Radio wasted no time printing up bags and T-shirts emblazoned with the so-called MPR Raccoon of last week’s social-media fame, adding to the fundraising and member-drive efforts. That critter needs her own agent at this point.
The Current staff even debuted a song and video with local rock showman Mark Mallman, “Raccoon Climber,” on its website the morning of its big shindig.
RTG 2018 wasn’t as large as most of its recent predecessors, though. Attendance was down by a couple thousand people to about 9,700, and the typically sold-out tickets were being unloaded for half their $74 face value on resale sites. Maybe all that attention on the raccoon distracted prospective ticket buyers.
See our full review in Monday Variety or at startribune.com/music.