This year Rock the Garden returns to the Walker on July 22 headlined by Bon Iver, aka Justin Vernon, who just released his third album—22, A Million—to rapturous acclaim. Don’t miss the festival of the summer at the newly renovated Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Find out about all the latest details here.

Performing in the Twin Cities for the first time since 22, A Million was released, Bon Iver will return to the Rock the Garden stage as the 2017 headliner. The Grammy-winning group had one of the most critically celebrated albums in the last year. With controlled experimentation, front man Justin Vernon traverses an electronic landscape of compressed vocals and glitches while staying true to a soulful sound. Watching Bon Iver against the backdrop of the new sculpture garden and the twinkling downtown skyline will be one of the best moments of the summer.

Rock the Garden is turning purple this year with a legacy performance by the Revolution. Be ready to dance to some of the biggest hits and essential B-sides played by original members and some very special friends. From When Doves Cry to Purple Rain to Kiss to Let’s Go Crazy, the Revolution shaped an essential musical period for The Purple One. They share a musicianship and style that only he could assemble. This dance party will be one for the record books.

Los Angeles–based singer/songwriter/guitarist Benjamin Booker is aptly described by the Independent as “frenzied guitar-strumming and raw, soulful vocals that are hair-raising in intensity.” On his latest release, Witness, Booker has created his most ambitious work yet by digging deep into his passion for eccentric soul, R&B, and blues, drawing on everything from William Onyeabor’s ’70s African psych-rock to Freddie Gibbs and Pusha T, while never straying too far from the garage-punk intensity that made his self-titled 2014 debut such a creative breakthrough.

Led by Will Toledo, the young but prolific songwriter from Portland, Car Seat Headrest is one of the breakout acts from the past year. This artist-to-watch found his voice and audience via Bandcamp and has been swiftly embraced by indie-music fans. Two tracks from his first proper studio album, Teens of Denial landed high in The Current’s Top 89 Songs of 2016. The band received recent praise from The New Yorker: “When you think you’ve heard it all before, you hear a melody that bends just the right way. He moves without the anxiety that it’s all been done before. Rather, there’s a confidence that it can be done again—better, catchier, more perfect, more honest.”

This new folk-rock group, fronted by Dave Simonett of Trampled by Turtles, takes the toughest lessons in life and turns them into a reflective album reminiscent of Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks. The debut album Furnace charts the pain of Simonett’s recent divorce and was recorded at the legendary Pachyderm Studio.

Margaret Glaspy is one of the strongest female debuts in the last year. Her rising star is hitched on personal lyrics, rough and catchy guitar, and a vocal quality that keeps your interest piqued.

At their best, these songs share the self-scrutinizing intimacy of Elliot Smith and the imaginative melodic intonations of Joni Mitchell


Taking their name from a Babes in Toyland song, Bruise Violet embrace many of the aesthetic contradictions of early ’90s grunge and alt rock. Describing themselves as “sugar, spice, and a kick in the teeth” and “Broadway meets Bikini Kill,” the trio has rapidly ascended to one of the area’s “must-see” bands since meeting only a few years ago at St. Paul’s School of Rock.

Born and raised in North Minneapolis, Dwynell Roland emerged as a rapper at the age of 13 in a collective called Twin City Boyz. His project the Popular Nobody defines him as a standout in the strong Minnesota hip-hop scene. Be sure to check out this up-and-comer as he kicks off our new Garden Stage.