Many Minnesota souls put on brave faces and plastic slickers this weekend for "Rock the Garden," the annual summer music event hosted by 89.3 The Current and the Walker Art Center.
By all accounts, My Morning Jacket's set was a unanimous hit, and made the event a success despite wet weather. Feeling like you missed out? Not to worry, 89.3 The Current will air highlights from the show this Sunday at 9pm.
Meanwhile, check out these reviews from local media:
Tapes 'n Tapes
Tapes 'N Tapes played a spirited set in the RTG opening slot that's the next signifier of national prominence for a local act after they headline First Ave--but the poncho-clad crowd were in resolute mode, fully expecting to be standing knee-deep in mud within the next couple of hours, and were not about to dance their pants off.
The rain had largely abated by the time Booker T. Jones took the stage, and hot damn! At 67, the living legend is looking good and sounding even better. Grinning widely and introducing his songs to an audience he was fully aware would hardly recognize many of them, Booker T. played with the balance of flourish and restraint that have made him one of the most respected instrumentalists and highly-sought sidemen in rock history. His three-piece backing band were tight, with guitarist Vernon "Ice" Black playing fiery licks that nearly stole the show. What seemed to most enthuse the crowd, embarrassingly, was drummer Darian Grey's rapping, which reminded me why you don't hear Us3 cited very widely as an influence by up-and-coming MCs. Diggy diggy flop, y'all.
Booker T. Jones
When Case took the stage at about 6:45, the crowd appeared pretty well settled in for the night, having finished their beer/food run(s), and surviving the worst of the rainy weather. Unfortunately, her set was underwhelming. A portion of the blame has to go to the volume of her set being awfully low overall, and maybe more importantly her vocals were tough to discern. For an artist that relies on the intelligence of the lyrics, and the quirkiness of her on-stage banter, low vocals can be a killer.
My Morning Jacket was about 85 percent the reason it became one of the best Rock the Gardens of late, but there were other grounds for declaring it a good year -- despite rain spilling down for the first half of the concert. Among the other memorable moments...
• Tapes 'n Tapes revisited "The Loon." In the opening slot, the kinetic chop-rock quartet weaved between each of its three albums but landed often on its breakthrough 2006 debut. The hometown crowd loved it, and so did anyone who remembered that frontman Josh Grier wrote those songs just across the street while living near Loring Park.
*Urban paradise found. Like the Basilica Block Party, one of the things that makes RTG such an inviting event is its downtown setting outside one of our local cathedrals. It's too bad the Walker hillside site can't be more of a full-time concert venue (the neighbors wouldn't have it). The rain really put the site to the test Saturday, too. Aside from a wimpy sound system (blame those neighbors again), the production was strong. And aside from several unlucky, mucky tumbles down the hill, fans got out relatively unscathed compared to the usual middle-of-the-road (or field, rather) festival site.
*Junior lost. Before MMJ's set, Mary Lucia made one of the more memorable announcements ever by a jockey from the Current 89.3, the event's co-curator: "There's a lost child," she declared in a keep-away-from-the-brown-acid tone. "You can claim him at -- ironically enough -- the vodka tent."
My Morning Jacket