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27 Facets of the 2014 Rock the Garden Lineup

Rock the Garden 2014

From legendary Long Island hip hop pioneers De La Soul to the surf pop of Best Coast, from spoken word artistry by Minneapolis’ own Dessa to Memphis-based Valerie June’s mix of country, gospel, and blues to Guided By Voices’ lo-fi indie, Rock the Garden 2014 may offer the series’ most eclectic lineup yet. To introduce bands in Rock the Garden’s inaugural year as a two-day festival, music writer Chris Mode digs into each band’s past, habits, and Twin Cities connections.

Click here for a full schedule and ticketing information for Rock the Garden 2014, June 21 and 22.

Saturday: Jeremy Messersmith

Photo: Kyle Dean Reinford

  1. Jeremy Messersmith’s tender songs about love and death have been a staple on The Current for years, and much of his success relies on Current host Mary Lucia. Just months after the station went on the air, he gave Lucia a copy of his demo, and she fell in love with his honest sound.

  2. As a part of the release of his 2010 album The Reluctant Graveyard, Messersmith created a scavenger hunt around the Twin Cities, hiding copies around town and delivering clues via his Twitter account.

  3. Messersmith is a self-confessed nerd with an outspoken love of Star Wars and Dungeons and Dragons. He once told Dessa, “I try to live my life as logically I can—as much like Mr. Spock as I can be.”

Saturday: Best Coast

Photo: Courtesy the artists

  1. Best Coast is named for the LA duo of Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno’s love of California, and their warm, sun-infused sound will be perfect for a June afternoon. Singer Cosentino says she does all her writing in her Los Angeles bedroom with open windows and palm trees looking on.

  2. Cosentino cites a wide variety of influences on their music, from country icons Dusty Springfield and Patsy Cline to acts like My Bloody Valentine and Drake.

  3. Cosentino’s pet Snacks the Cat is famous in its own right, gracing the cover of 2010’s Crazy for You and performing as a featured artist on Best Coast’s cover of Roy Orbison’s “Crying.”

Saturday: Matt and Kim

Photo: Caleb Kuhl

  1. Real-life couple Matt and Kim are known for their raucous, energetic shows, and their highly physical stage presence mirrors the excitement in the crowd. They’ve got to be careful, though; the pair had to cancel a series of concert dates when Matt injured his back on tour in 2009.

  2. Matt and Kim are vocal supporters of animal adoption, and at their 2012 show at First Avenue, they encouraged audience members to learn more about Twin Cities organization B.A.R.K. (Being Advocates for Rescued K-9’s) at their merchandise table.

  3. While based in Brooklyn, Matt has a love for Minneapolis, having spent a lot of time here at age 20. He used to hang out with his brother and friends at the Seward Café.

Saturday: De La Soul

Photo: Courtesy the artists

  1. Working for more than 25 years, the idiosyncratic, legendary hip hop group De La Soul is still going strong. Their next LP, You’re Welcome, is on its way and will be their first proper album in ten years. Meanwhile, their new eleven-track EP Smell the Da.I.S.Y. is available for free download on their website.

  2. In 2011, the Library of Congress chose to preserve their debut release, 1989’s 3 Feet High and Rising, in its collection, which of course includes their first hit, “Me, Myself, and I”.

  3. De La Soul is known best for their smart wordplay and use of eclectic samples, which include artists as wide-ranging as Steely Dan, Otis Redding, The Jarmels, and Liberace. (Bonus: here they are rapping over a remix of fellow Rock The Garden 2014 performers Matt and Kim).

Sunday: Valerie June

Photo: Matt Wignall

  1. Valerie June fuses country, gospel and blues to create her self-described “organic moonshine roots music,” her voice likened to those of Dolly Parton and Billie Holiday. Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys helped write and produce her latest album, Pushin’ Against a Stone.

  2. While June’s wide variety of musical influences is evident, she also cites a range of writers as inspiration for her lyrics, including Maya Angelou, Wendell Berry, and Emily Dickinson.

  3. June was first introduced to the music industry working for her father as a promoter for gospel musicians in Tennessee. This experience sparked her interest in writing her own music and gave her important skills in managing her work as a recording artist.

Sunday: Kurt Vile and the Violators

Photo: Shawn Brackbill

  1. Singer/songwriter Kurt Vile’s sounds are tied closely to his hometown love for Philadelphia. The city is proud of his work and dedication, creating a city-wide Kurt Vile Day and presenting him a Liberty Bell Award, the city’s highest honor.

  2. One of ten children and now the father of two, Vile is a committed family man, constantly juggling his time between his life at home and on the road. Here’s a homemade video/commercial that features his daughter dancing around to his song “Never Run Away.”

  3. The first song Vile ever wrote was called “You Made All My Hair Fall Out,” describing Lex Luthor’s hair loss and the termination of his friendship with Superman. Maybe someday we’ll hear this one on The Current.

Sunday: Dessa

Photo: Bill Phelps

  1. Local rapper/singer/songwriter Dessa is a Rock the Garden vet, having performed with local hip hop collective Doomtree in 2012. Because The Current broadcast the event live, Doomtree had to perform part of their set without profanity, and being cooperative Minnesotans, they played along.

  2. Dessa’s interest in and sensitivity to language exists outside of her life as a musician. She began as a spoken word artist, and last year she published a poetry chapbook with Rain Taxi Review of Books. Watch her reading her work at the Walker this fall here.

  3. Dessa participated in the Walker’s “The Year According to…” series this year, providing a list of the best of 2013. Her picks ranged from politics and religion to music and media, giving her top spot to marriage equality in Minnesota.

Sunday: Guided By Voices

Photo: Courtesy the artists

  1. Guided By Voices frontman Robert Pollard serves as a model for musical productivity, having turned out more than 500 of his signature short, punchy songs for the band alone. The band’s 22nd album, Cool Planet (GBV’s second LP this year) will be released next month.

  2. Guided By Voices is known for having a fanatic group of followers; those who love them, really love them. Current host Mary Lucia is among them; the Star Tribune writes that she “doses out GBV like One-A-Day vitamins” on air.

  3. The band’s 2004 show at St. Paul’s Grand Old Day has become quite infamous among fans. Guitarist Nate Farley fell off the stage, cigarette in mouth, and Pollard was led onstage in handcuffs by the St. Paul Chief of Police.

Sunday: Spoon

Photo: Courtesy the artists

  1. Minneapolis has shown its love for Spoon before; the alt-rockers sold out two shows at First Avenue in 2010. And frontman Britt Daniel loves us back, singing, “I wish I was in Minneapolis” on an album with his other project, Divine Fits.

  2. Listening to Spoon’s music and reading interviews with the band, you can tell that Spoon takes their rock seriously. The group will often dress up to record, knowing a suit and a nice pair of shoes are requisite to turning out some hard-hitting tunes.

  3. Bassist Rob Pope, a Kansas native, along with Hold Steady drummer Bobby Drake and a few other musician friends, opened up Lake Street Bar last year in Brooklyn, an homage to Minneapolis and, according to Drake, “the kind of old-man divey but cool bars” you find throughout the Midwest.