One of the most popular music festivals in Minneapolis is coming to an end. The Walker Art Center and The Current announced today that this past summer’s Rock the Garden—which featured headliners Sleater-Kinney and Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats—would be the last iteration of the annual summer event. But the two organizations plan to continue to partner on future initiatives.
“Rock the Garden has always been focused on bringing people together through music. We are grateful to go out on a high note as a team. This is now a fresh opportunity to conjure up new ways to serve ambitions that drive each institution in new ways,” Walker executive director Mary Ceruti and MPR president Duchesne Drew said in a joint statement.
The music festival was a celebration of independent music, and featured numerous rising and acclaimed regional acts alongside major national touring artists—over the years, the likes of Sonic Youth, Wilco, and MGMT have performed alongside Lizzo, Bon Iver, The Revolution, and Low, to name a few. At its peak, the music festival could bring in nearly 12,000 attendees around the Walker’s hillside, and had some years where it took place over two days.
“It has been a tremendous pleasure to work so closely with the staff of The Current since our first Rock the Garden together in 2008,” said Walker curator Philip Bither said in a statement. “This much-loved event benefitted greatly from their dedication, musical knowledge, connections, good taste and remarkable reach. The 13 festivals we co-produced together held so many memorable moments and brought joy and inspiration to many. We look forward to continuing to collaborate with MPR and The Current in new ways and new projects in the future.”
The Walker Art Center launched Rock the Garden in 1998, with its first performers including Hot Head Swing Band and The Jayhawks. The music festival was re-launched in 2008 in partnership with The Current after it was put on hiatus in 2004.
“The Current remains committed to crafting unique experiences and inspiring our audiences through music discovery,” The Current’s managing director David Safar said in a statement. “Over the years, Rock the Garden empowered connections across the community, and now MPR and the Walker will dream up new events that enable those connections.”
What’s next for downtown’s seminal summer music festivals? Earlier this year, organizers announced that the Basilica Block Party was cancelled for 2022 in order to re-think the event.