Rock the Garden will be entirely led by women or nonbinary artists this year, with Canadian folk-pop vets Tegan & Sara, Alabama Shakes singer Brittany Howard and newly revived hometown groovers Poliça topping off the bill for the June 20 festival outside Walker Art Center.
Grammy-nominated Turkish rock band Altin Gün and sister trio Joseph will also play the hillside main stage for the annual garden party, while L.A. indie-rocker Jay Som and local buzzers Gully Boys and Dua Saleh are on tap for the second stage in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.
The Walker and its RTG co-host 89.3 the Current announced the lineup Tuesday morning concurrent with tickets going on sale for its respective members, starting at $69. Tickets will be available to the general public starting Friday at 10 a.m. for $74 via eTix.com or rockthegardenfestival.com. VIP passes with food and drink included are also available for $300.
This year’s lineup may look like something of a concerted effort to make a gender-equality statement by the two progressive organizations. Aside from electro-rapper and poet Dua Saleh, who’s nonbinary, the singers will all be women, and some of their bands also have a female majority.
However, the Walker’s associate curator of performing arts and RTG vet Doug Benidt made it sound like the lineup’s makeup was more happenstance — a happy result of his team and the Current doing what they always do, which is cull from the artists they support year-round based on who’s available that particular day.
“Each year we aim to book the best lineup possible,” Benidt said, “and the way things shook out this year allowed us to make these artists the focus and celebrate the fact that great music creators are not bound by genetics or politics.”
Calgary area strummers Tegan & Sara of “Walking With a Ghost” and “Heartthrob” fame will headline. Also a sister act like Joseph, the twin tunesmiths have maintained a strong Twin Cities following going back 20 years to the 400 Bar, but this will be their first big outdoor gig in town. They sold out the Fitzgerald Theater last October touting their memoir “High School” and an accompanying album of re-recorded early songs.
Perhaps just as worthy to headline, Howard steamrolled the Palace Theatre with her killer new band in September on the same day her first solo album, “Jamie,” was released to widespread raves and Grammy nominations. A webcast of that prior performance is archived on the Current’s website.
Poliça recently rebounded from a yearlong hiatus — a break made longer by singer Channy Leaneagh’s broken back — and just finished a European tour touting their moving new album, “When We Stay Alive.” They are also set to headline First Avenue on April 10.
Despite sweltering heat and humidity, last year’s Rock the Garden still drew a capacity crowd of more than 11,000 fans with a lineup including the National, Courtney Barnett and X. The fundraiser and membership-booster event dates back to 1998. It was brought back from a four-year lull in 2008 when the Current signed on as a co-organizer, and since then its roster of performers have included Chance the Rapper, Bon Iver, the Flaming Lips, the Decemberists and Lizzo.
This year, RTG could be facing steeper competition from a busy summer season of stadium and arena concerts as well as the already announced Basilica Block Party, which boasts a conspicuously Current-flavored 2020 lineup. There’s also still talk that Justin Vernon of Bon Iver plans to relaunch his Eaux Claires festival in nearby Wisconsin in July after taking last year off.