After a two-year hiatus, Rock the Garden organizers decided one headliner wasn't enough for 2022.
Soul rockers Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats and indie-rock legends Sleater-Kinney were announced Tuesday as co-headliners for the June 11 music festival, taking place again on two stages outside Walker Art Center near downtown Minneapolis.
Rock the Garden will also welcome back acclaimed Duluth trio Low in 2022 — to drone or not to drone, that is the question! — alongside a diverse crop of younger buzzmakers.
The rest of the lineup features: recent Brit Awards rising star winner Beabadoobee; Nigerian desert-blues guitar groover Bombino; Californian producer/beatmaker DāM-FunK, and Australia's indigenous doom-metal duo Divide and Dissolve. The latter two acts were handpicked by the members of Low to open for them on the smaller, second stage inside the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.
Tickets go on sale to Walker and 89.3 the Current/Minnesota Public Radio members on Thursday at 10 a.m. for $79 general-admission or $300 for VIP via Etix.com. The general public can then buy what's left starting Monday at 10 a.m. ($84/$300).
"It's been a long two years," the Walker's senior curator Philip Bither said during Tuesday's discernibly excited announcement on the Current's morning show.
It could easily be another sell-out year for the festival. The two brand-name headliners have distinct and sizable audiences. Also, there's obviously a raised demand for big outdoor concerts coming off COVID lockdown(s).
Some previous RTG performers and other flagship Current acts are already booked to perform later in the summer outside the Surly brewery, including the Decemberists, Fleet Foxes, Lord Huron, Andrew Bird with Iron & Wine, and Sharon Van Etten with Angel Olsen and Julien Baker.
Conversely, RTG's main competing festival, the Basilica Block Party, is going on hiatus this summer so organizers can "rethink" the two-day event.
One of the first festivals to cancel in 2020 due to COVID — and again in 2021 — Rock the Garden has not confirmed any vaccine restrictions or mask policies for 2022, as is the case for most major festivals around the country this year. But that certainly could change.
"As CDC COVID guidelines evolve, we will be able to make a Rock the Garden COVID plan closer to the event," Walker Art Center media representative Rachel Joyce said.
Using the famed sculpture garden as a backdrop, Walker Art Center has hosted Rock the Garden as a fundraiser and membership-driving event off and on since 1998. The Current signed on as a partner with the same goals in 2008; that was the year Bon Iver opened the show.
Favorites on the Current ever since their breakout hit "S.O.B." made the B-word acceptable on public radio, Rateliff and his horn-driven Night Sweats previously played RTG in 2016, when the event moved to Boom Island while the sculpture garden was under repairs. The Denver-area band garnered more steady rotation last year with its album, "The Future," and the singles "Survivor" and "What If I."
Post-grunge, riot-grrrl-tagged mainstays Sleater-Kinney were on hiatus during the first decade the Current existed, while co-leader Carrie Brownstein became even more of a cult hero via the TV series "Portlandia." Originally launched in Olympia, Wash., the band returned strong in 2015 but then went through a lineup change after recording its 2019 album, "The Center Won't Hold," as Brownstein and partner Corin Tucker took a poppier turn without drummer Janet Weiss.
The return of Low could drum up almost as much attention as the headliners. Married bandmates Mimi Parker and Alan Sparhawk reached a new level of critical acclaim in 2021 with their sonically frayed album "Hey What," which landed on Rolling Stone's year-end best-of list and many others.
Low's prior RTG appearance in 2013 remains one of the festival's most talked-about sets. Following a rain delay, they decided on a whim to perform one song — and only one song — in drone-style musical fashion. ("It was a big show, so we wanted to do something big and different," Sparhawk explained afterward.)
As for the rest of the lineup: Bombino has proven to be a fascinating and funky live act with his Cedar Cultural Center appearances, but the others on the bill are all relatively untested. Which is partly what it's all about, no?
Rock the Garden 2022
When: Saturday, June 11, from 1-10 p.m.
Where: Walker Art Center/Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, 725 Vineland Place, Mpls.
With: Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, Sleater-Kinney, Low, Beabadoobee, DāM-FunK, Bombino, Divide and Dissolve.
Tickets: On sale 10 a.m. Thu. to Walker and MPR members, 10 a.m. Mon. to non-members, $79-$84 or $300 VIP, Etix.com.
More info: Rockthegardenfestival.com