Because she’s touring as the National’s opening act, Courtney Barnett (7 p.m.) earned an exception to the unofficial no-repeat rule at Rock the Garden. No complaints, especially since the Aussie rocker has grown more intense and lyrically tantalizing since her 2015 appearance. “She’s just one of the strongest young songwriters working right now, and an incredible guitarist, too,” the National's Bryce Dessner raved to us.
She and New Zealand pop/punk quartet the Beths (4:35 p.m. on the smaller garden stage) will make for a fine trifecta of hard-blasting guitar-rock along with Los Angeles punk legends X (5:15), who’ve been sturdier and rowdier in concert over the past decade than most bands a third their age.
St. Paul’s high-flying soulful rapper Dem Atlas kicks off the main-stage schedule (2:30), followed by Heart Bones (3:45), the flirty, “Dirty Dancing”-channeling electronic-pop duo with Sean “Har Mar Superstar” Tillmann and Sabrina Ellis of the wild Austin, Texas, band A Giant Dog.
Bluesy, gospel-injected South Carolinian singer/songwriter Adia Victoria could be a welcome twist after the Beths (6:20) on the garden stage, where angsty but playful local wordsmith Kerry Alexander and her buoyant band Bad Bad Hats earned the final slot (8:45) after touring heavily this past year behind their album “Lightning Round.”