It's lights on for another Rock the Garden outside Walker Art Center on June 15.
Something to help lift the gloom from our lingering winter weather: This is the week when the lineups for both Rock the Garden and the Basilica Block Party will be released, two of the biggest outdoor music bashes of summer. For once, organizers have not offered us a sneak peak of either event. Which means we’re free to speculate who might be playing.
Here is some logical guessing for each one – but it truly is still just guessing at this point, so don't hold us to it or change your summer vacation plans because you're dying to see ZZ Ward.
ROCK THE GARDEN (June 15, Walker Art Center grounds, lineup will be announced Tuesday starting at 4 p.m. via 89.3 the Current)
After last year’s nearly all-Minnesotan lineup, we can probably expect at least a couple acts with local roots this year. Most obvious would be Bob Mould, who: a) has surprisingly never played RTG; b) is still out and bout promoting last year’s Current-rotated album “Silver Age;” c) has a confirmed gig the next day in Duluth. This also very well could be the first time Duluth’s own Low plays RTG, with their strong new album now in rotation and longstanding ties with both the Current and the Walker. If any Twin Cities acts make the lineup, likely candidates would be Polica, Astronautalis, Marijuana Deathsquads or (though he wouldn’t be announced until after Soundset) P.O.S.
The most obvious candidate for non-local headliner is Metric, which also has history with the Current and is conspicuously booked to perform for "Wits" a night before RTG at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul. Internet rumors also have Baltimore’s wild electronic guru Dan Deacon playing RTG, and he would be a fun treat either for a full set or for DJ-ing between-sets so the Current’s on-air staff can just go ahead and drink all day. Vampire Weekend has some open dates in that stretch and has yet to announce a local date, but would be a longshot. Thinking back on bands that have played very sold-out shows in recent months and are prime to play bigger confines here (and have June 15 open), candidates include Tame Impala, Divine Fits, Passion Pit, Family of the Year (who could also be a Basilica contender) and Boy (same thing).
Whatever the lineup, you will probably once again need a Walker or Minnesota Public Radio membership to get a ticket this year.
BASILICA BLOCK PARTY (July 12-13, Basilica of St. Mary’s, announcing Thursday at 4 p.m. via Cities 97)
This year really is a hard one to peg, since many of the prime candidates for headliners are already booked elsewhere locally this summer, including the Lumineers, Avett Brothers, Brandi Carlile, Sheryl Crow, Fitz & the Tantrums and Eric Hutchinson. Mumford & Sons are playing Bonnaroo the weekend of RTG (as are many other candidates) but are way beyond it and the Basilica’s pay grade at this point. Tegan and Sara are also tied up RTG weekend but are free for the Basilica. Ed Sheeran could slide in between tour legs with Taylor Swift. Matchbox Twenty and the Goo Goo Dolls are two classic Cities 97 artists touring together this summer and will be in the vicinity that weekend.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Basilica organizers resort to bringing back recent party players that continue to do well, including Imagine Dragons, OneRepublic or Matt Nathanson. Cities is also spinning a bunch of new-ish, sometimes indistinguishable singer/songwriters who also could be on the lineup, including ZZ Ward, Tristan Prettyman (playing this Tuesday at First Ave), Walk the Moon, Matt Hires and “American Idol” winner Phillip Phillips.
For local players, Trampled by Turtles would be a smart booking on the big stage this year, and Cities actually has given them a little airplay. Dessa made the cut for last year’s “Sampler” CD and has a new album coming in June. Or they could keep it in the family and book Keri Noble -- but that might mean letting her take a day off from her morning-host duties.
[Photo: Leslie Plesser]