Another long-entrenched favorite on 89.3 the Current’s airwaves, the National, will top off the Rock the Garden lineup at Walker Art Center June 29, with a repeat act from 2015, Courtney Barnett, heading a purposefully gender-balanced undercard.
Los Angeles punk legends X, led by Exene Cervenka and John Doe, are also on the lineup along with buzzing newcomers Adia Victoria and the Beths and hometown representatives Bad Bad Hats, Dem Atlas and Har Mar Superstar’s new group, Heart Bones.
As usual, the seven-hour, two-stage music fest — held for 17 of the past 20 summers — will take place on the hillside next to the Art Center and in the adjoining Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Tickets are available now through Thursday for $69 to members of the Walker or the Current’s parent Minnesota Public Radio, both of which use the event as a membership-driving fundraiser. Prices go up to $74 for the public sale starting Thursday at 10 a.m. via eTix.com.
While the National fits the rather un-summery, downbeat mold of such recent RTG headliners as Father John Misty and Bon Iver, the Cincinnati-reared quintet will arrive with some pent-up enthusiasm locally. The band has not performed in the Twin Cities since 2013, and that was at the lowly Roy Wilkins Auditorium. In the interim, the group has twice headlined Eaux Claires, the Wisconsin festival co-curated by National guitarist Aaron Dessner and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon that’s on hold this summer.
Barnett is touring as the National’s opening act, so RTG organizers made a rare exception in booking a return engagement by the “Avant Gardener”-singing Aussie rocker. She also played outdoors last summer at Surly brewery in Minneapolis.
X will come to the show after a steady string of dates over the past decade-plus that established them as one of punk’s mightiest comeback acts, including a 40th-anniversary showing at First Avenue in 2017 that found guitarist Billy Zoom back in force following two bouts with cancer.
As for the newbies, Adia Victoria is a South Carolina native who channels Southern blues and folklore into a moody modern-rock sound that earned her a “10 Artists You Need to Know” nod from Rolling Stone and recent slots on the Afropunk and Cal Jam festival lineups. The Beths, a pop-punky New Zealand trio, made a big splash at Texas’ South by Southwest festival last month.
Also garnering a SXSW buzz, Heart Bones is Sean “Har Mar” Tillmann’s new electro-poppy boy/girl duo with Sabrina Ellis of the Austin, Texas-based bands A Giant Dog and Sweet Spirit. They have a new album coming soon after performing the “Dirty Dancing” soundtrack at recent coming-out gigs. No kidding.
Macalester alumni band Bad Bad Hats and Rhymesayers rapper Dem Atlas — both regulars at previous Current-branded events — will make their RTG debuts after spending much of last year on the road.
Last year’s event was the rare one in recent years to not sell out in advance, despite boasting one of the Current’s flagship acts, Father John Misty.