Rock the Garden 2019: A stunning day of music with the National, Courtney Barnett, X, Heart Bones, deM atlaS, Bad Bad Hats, Adia Victoria, and the Beths

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The National perform at Rock the Garden 2019
Matt Berninger of The National performs at Rock the Garden 2019. (Nate Ryan | MPR)

Eight bands heated up Rock the Garden's two stages yesterday at the Walker Art Center. It was a sweltering summer day, with temperatures crawling into the lower 90s. Despite the heat, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden provided a lush backdrop for a full day of music. The sun was out, and so were the thousands of people who came out to see the National, Courtney Barnett, X, Heart Bones, deM atlaS, Bad Bad Hats, Adia Victoria, and the Beths. Here's a rundown of the day's performers.

deM atlaS

DeM atlaS kicked off the day at 2:30 p.m. on the Main Stage. The Rhymesayers rapper energized the crowd with songs from his debut album, Bad Actress. He had hands in the air from his first song, the raucous "Tomorrow Party." Despite the heat, deM atlaS spun, jumped, and danced around the stage, where he was backed by a live drummer and DJ Keezy.

For "Music Man," deM was joined by special guest Lady Midnight. "She's a good friend of mine," deM atlaS said of the Minneapolis singer who recently released the album Death Before Mourning. "We have a lot of dope art in this city, don't we?" Watching the sun stretch over Spoonbridge and Cherry while the two artists' voices filled the air, it was hard to disagree.

deM atlaS performs at Rock the Garden 2019
deM atlaS performs at Rock the Garden 2019. (Nate Ryan | MPR)

Heart Bones

Sean Tillmann and Sabrina Ellis stepped onstage in coordinated primary-colored outfits, their color scheme almost as loud and playful as their synth-laden pop. Heart Bones played songs from their forthcoming debut album, which nods sonically and lyrically to the pulsing pop sounds of the '80s. "Don't put baby in a corner," they sang, while I watched an actual bucket-hat wearing baby bouncing to the beat. Tillmann and Ellis also pulled out a song from their Dirty Dancing tour, their Auto-Tune cover of Eric Carmen's "Hungry Eyes."

Heart Bones Rock the Garden photo by Mary Mathis
Heart Bones playing Rock the Garden (MPR Photo | Mary Mathis)

The Beths

After stopping to refill my bottle at a water station and ducking inside the Walker for a blast of AC, I headed toward the Garden Stage, where the Beths were tearing through songs from Future Me Hates Me. The New Zealand indie rock band filled the garden with buzzing guitars and three-part vocal harmonies.

"This is so cool; thanks for doing the ASL," said singer/guitarist Elizabeth Stokes. Throughout the day ASL interpreters signed each band's lyrics in real time, a Rock the Garden first that was enthusiastically celebrated by audience and artists alike.

The Beths perform at Rock the Garden 2019
An ASL interpreter signs The Beths' songs at Rock the Garden 2019 (Nate Ryan | MPR)

X

By the time I made it back to the Main Stage for X, the lawn was packed with a sea of fans waiting to hear the legendary Los Angeles punk band. "What a beautiful place. What a beautiful park. What a beautiful city," singer Exene Cervenka said. John Doe, Exene Cervenka, DJ Bonebrake, and Billy Zoom showcased their range, playing songs from throughout the band's decade-spanning career including "True Love," "Hungry Wolf," and "Phone's off the Hook, But You're Not."

Billy Zoom maintained a sense of calm, politely nodding while tearing through guitar solos. He also showed off his saxophone playing, and took advantage of the rising heat by sticking his guitar pick square in the middle of his forehead before picking up the sax.

X perform at Rock the Garden 2019
John Doe of X performing at Rock the Garden 2019. (Helen Teague | MPR)

Adia Victoria

After bouncing along to X's set, I settled into a grassy spot in front of the Garden Stage. The sun sat low in the sky, and long, lazy rays grazed the Calder mobile behind the stage.

Nashville-based Adia Victoria created dense and moody soundscapes with a six-piece band. The singer-songwriter, who is also a poet, name-dropped some of her literary heroes, including Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf. She also gave a shout-out to Aaron Dessner, who would later take the Main Stage with the National, and who produced Victoria's album Silences.

Adia Victoria performs at Rock the Garden 2019
Adia Victoria performs at Rock the Garden 2019. (Mary Mathis | MPR)

Courtney Barnett

Courtney Barnett began her set with "Avant Gardener," a song that introduced many listeners to the Australian artist's breezy yet searing rock. Barnett barreled through songs from Tell Me How You Really Feel while throwing in songs from earlier albums. She growled each song's lyrics and roamed around the stage, smiling at band members Bones Sloane and Dave Mudie. Barnett slung her guitar and held the body in the air while ripping through solos. During "Small Poppies," she held her axe like a violin before banging the headstock on the stage, and after "Pedestrian at Best," she walked offstage while squeals of feedback still rang out.

Courtney Barnett performs at Rock The Garden 2019
Courtney Barnett performs at Rock the Garden 2019. (Nate Ryan | MPR)

Bad Bad Hats

"It's become something of a tradition that we close down the Garden Stage with an amazing local band," said The Current's Andrea Swensson, introducing Bad Bad Hats. The Minneapolis indie rock sweethearts played songs from throughout their discography while the sun began to set. Singer/guitarist Kerry Alexander shared anecdotes with the crowd about the band's songs, including "Nothing Gets Me High," which she explained is "both literally true and also a metaphor" for how falling in love later in life never feels quite the same as the butterflies of a budding teenage relationship.

Bad Bad Hats perform at Rock the Garden 2019
Kerry Alexander and Connor Davidson of Bad Bad Hats perform at Rock the Garden 2019. (Helen Teague | MPR)

The National

Walking over to the Main Stage, I could feel the temperature dropping and a breeze blowing through the garden. The National painted the summer sky with songs from their latest album, I Am Easy To Find.

The National's instruments sprawled across the stage, and blue-and-white tapestries fluttered among horn players, drums, and an upright piano. Matt Berninger was joined onstage by two singers who filled in for the many guest vocals on I Am Easy To Find: Zoe Randell (of the Australian band Luluc) and Mina Tindel (who appears on the album's track "Oblivions").

"You guys have one of the best radio stations anywhere," Berninger told the audience. The crowd sang along to favorites like "Bloodbuzz Ohio" and "Fake Empire" as Aaron and Bryce Dessner delivered delivering wailing guitar solos and softly plunked piano parts.

Berninger hopped off the stage at multiple points in the night to wade through the crowd. With just minutes left in their set, the National launched from "Mr. November" into "Terrible Love" while Berninger snaked through the audience, hair ruffled and forehead-to-forehead with fans.

The National close out Rock the Garden 2019.
The National close out Rock the Garden 2019. (Nate Ryan | MPR)

The National setlist

You Had Your Soul With You
Quiet Light
Hey Rosey
Don't Swallow the Cap
Bloodbuzz Ohio
Oblivions
Where Is Her Head
The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness
Graceless
Easy to Find
Fake Empire
Rylan
Light Years
Mr. November
Terrible Love

80 Photos

  • Rock the Garden 2019 b-roll
    Scene from Rock the Garden 2019 in Minneapolis, June 29, 2019. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Rock the Garden 2019 b-roll
    Scene from Rock the Garden 2019 in Minneapolis, June 29, 2019. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Rock the Garden 2019 b-roll
    Scene from Rock the Garden 2019 in Minneapolis, June 29, 2019. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • deM atlaS performs at Rock the Garden 2019
    deM atlaS performs at Rock the Garden 2019. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • deM atlaS performs at Rock the Garden 2019
    deM atlaS performs at Rock the Garden 2019. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • deM atlaS performs at Rock the Garden 2019
    deM atlaS performs at Rock the Garden 2019. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • deM atlaS performs at Rock the Garden 2019
    deM atlaS performs at Rock the Garden 2019. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • deM atlaS performs at Rock the Garden 2019
    deM atlaS performs at Rock the Garden 2019. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • DeM atlaS at Rock the Garden 2019
    DeM atlaS at Rock the Garden 2019. (Nate Ryan/MPR)
  • DeM atlaS at Rock the Garden 2019
    DeM atlaS at Rock the Garden 2019. (Nate Ryan/MPR)
  • Rock the Garden 2019 b-roll
    Merchandise tent at Rock the Garden 2019 at the Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, June 29, 2019. (Helen Teague | MPR)
  • Heart Bones Rock the Garden photo by Mary Mathis
    Sean Tillman sings at Rock the Garden (MPR Photo | Mary Mathis)
  • Rock the Garden Heart Bones Mary Mathis
    Heart Bones at Rock the Garden (MPR Photo | Mary Mathis)
  • Rock the Garden Heart Bones Mary Mathis
    Sabrina Ellis and Sean Tillman's footwear (MPR Photo | Mary Mathis)
  • Heart Bones perform at Rock the Garden 2019
    Heart Bones perform at Rock the Garden 2019. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • The Beths perform at Rock the Garden 2019
    Music fans move between stages at Rock the Garden 2019 (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • The Beths perform at Rock the Garden 2019
    Music fans welcome The Beths to the stage at Rock the Garden 2019 (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • The Beths perform at Rock the Garden 2019
    Jonathan Pearce of The Beths performing at Rock the Garden 2019 (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • The Beths perform at Rock the Garden 2019
    The Beths perform at Rock the Garden 2019 (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • The Beths perform at Rock the Garden 2019
    The Beths perform at Rock the Garden 2019 (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • The Beths perform at Rock the Garden 2019
    Elizabeth Stokes of The Beths performing at Rock the Garden 2019 (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • X perform at Rock the Garden 2019
    DJ Bonebrake of X performing at Rock the Garden 2019. (Helen Teague | MPR)
  • X perform at Rock the Garden 2019
    X performing at Rock the Garden 2019. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • X perform at Rock the Garden 2019
    Exene Cervenka of X performing at Rock the Garden 2019. (Helen Teague | MPR)
  • X perform at Rock the Garden 2019
    John Doe of X performing at Rock the Garden 2019. (Helen Teague | MPR)
  • Rock the Garden 2019 b-roll-201
    Rock the Garden 2019 at Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
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    X perform at Rock the Garden 2019 at Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
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    Rock the Garden 2019 at Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
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    X performing at Rock the Garden 2019 at Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
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    Rock the Garden 2019 at Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
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    Rock the Garden 2019 at Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Adia Victoria performs at Rock the Garden 2019
    Adia Victoria performs at Rock the Garden 2019. (Mary Mathis | MPR)
  • Adia Victoria performs at Rock the Garden 2019
    Adia Victoria performs at Rock the Garden 2019. (Mary Mathis | MPR)
  • Adia Victoria performs at Rock the Garden 2019
    Peter Eddins plays keyboards with Adia Victoria at Rock the Garden 2019. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Adia Victoria performs at Rock the Garden 2019
    Adia Victoria performs at Rock the Garden 2019. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Adia Victoria performs at Rock the Garden 2019
    Adia Victoria performs at Rock the Garden 2019. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Adia Victoria performs at Rock the Garden 2019
    Adia Victoria performs at Rock the Garden 2019. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Courtney Barnett performs at Rock The Garden 2019
    Courtney Barnett performs at Rock The Garden 2019. (Helen Teague | MPR)
  • Courtney Barnett performs at Rock The Garden 2019
    Courtney Barnett performs at Rock The Garden 2019. (Helen Teague | MPR)
  • Courtney Barnett performs at Rock The Garden 2019
    Crowd surfing during Courtney Barnett's performance at Rock the Garden 2019. (Mary Mathis | MPR)
  • Courtney Barnett performs at Rock The Garden 2019
    Courtney Barnett performs at Rock the Garden 2019. (Mary Mathis | MPR)
  • Rock the Garden 2019 scenes
    Baby's first Rock the Garden, 2019. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Rock the Garden 2019 b-roll
    View from the VIP deck at Rock the Garden 2019 (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Rock the Garden 2019 general festival stuff
    Rock the Garden 2019 (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Courtney Barnett performs at Rock The Garden 2019
    Bassist Bones Sloane performs with Courtney Barnett at Rock the Garden 2019. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Courtney Barnett performs at Rock The Garden 2019
    Courtney Barnett performs at Rock the Garden 2019. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Courtney Barnett performs at Rock The Garden 2019
    Courtney Barnett performs at Rock the Garden 2019. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Courtney Barnett performs at Rock The Garden 2019
    Courtney Barnett performs at Rock the Garden 2019. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Rock the Garden 2019 general festival stuff
    Music fans take in the artwork during Rock the Garden 2019 at Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Courtney Barnett performs at Rock The Garden 2019
    Courtney Barnett performs at Rock the Garden 2019. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Courtney Barnett performs at Rock The Garden 2019
    Fans watch Courtney Barnett perform at Rock the Garden 2019. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Rock the Garden 2019
    Rock the Garden 2019 (Mary Mathis | MPR)
  • Hats offered some protection from the sun at Rock the Garden 2019
    Hats offered some protection from the sun at Rock the Garden 2019. (Nate Ryan/MPR)
  • Rock the Garden 2019 b-roll
    Rock the Garden 2019 (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Bad Bad Hats perform at Rock the Garden 2019
    Drummer Connor Davidson of Bad Bad Hats performing at Rock the Garden 2019. (Helen Teague | MPR)
  • Bad Bad Hats perform at Rock the Garden 2019
    Music fans at Bad Bad Hats' performance at Rock the Garden 2019. (Helen Teague | MPR)
  • Bad Bad Hats perform at Rock the Garden 2019
    Bad Bad Hats perform at Rock the Garden 2019. (Helen Teague | MPR)
  • Rock the Garden 2019 general festival stuff
    Rock the Garden 2019 (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Rock the Garden 2019 general festival stuff
    Rock the Garden 2019 (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Rock the Garden 2019 general festival stuff
    Rock the Garden 2019 (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Rock the Garden 2019 general festival stuff
    Rock the Garden 2019 (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Crowds at sunset during Rock the Garden 2019.
    Crowds at sunset during Rock the Garden 2019. (Nate Ryan/MPR)
  • The National perform at Rock the Garden 2019
    Bryce Dessner of The National performing at Rock the Garden 2019. (Mary Mathis | MPR)
  • The National perform at Rock the Garden 2019
    Matt Berninger of The National performing at Rock the Garden 2019. (Mary Mathis | MPR)
  • The National perform at Rock the Garden 2019
    The National perform at Rock the Garden 2019. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • The National perform at Rock the Garden 2019
    The National perform at Rock the Garden 2019. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • The National perform at Rock the Garden 2019
    Matt Berninger of The National performs at Rock the Garden 2019. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • The National perform at Rock the Garden 2019
    The National perform at Rock the Garden 2019. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • The National perform at Rock the Garden 2019
    Aaron Dessner of The National performs at Rock the Garden 2019. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • The National perform at Rock the Garden 2019
    The National perform at Rock the Garden 2019. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • The National perform at Rock the Garden 2019
    Matt Berninger and Pauline de Lassus of The National perform at Rock the Garden 2019. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • The National perform at Rock the Garden 2019
    The National perform at Rock the Garden 2019. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • The National perform at Rock the Garden 2019
    The National perform at Rock the Garden 2019. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • The National perform at Rock the Garden 2019
    The National perform at Rock the Garden 2019. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • The National close out Rock the Garden 2019.
    The National close out Rock the Garden 2019. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • The National close out Rock the Garden 2019.
    The National close out Rock the Garden 2019. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • The National close out Rock the Garden 2019.
    The National close out Rock the Garden 2019. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • The National close out Rock the Garden 2019.
    The National close out Rock the Garden 2019. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Rock the Garden 2019 b-roll
    The National close out Rock the Garden 2019. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Rock the Garden End of Night
    The National close out the night for Rock the Garden 2019. (MPR Photo | Nate Ryan)

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