PHOTOS | Rock the Garden 2016: Fun in the sun at new riverside location


A shot of one of the two stages at this years Rock the Garden during The Flaming Lips performance, June 18.
A shot of one of the two stages at this year’s Rock the Garden, June 18. Chris Juhn/MSR News

Rock the Garden kicked off the summer at a new location down by the Mississippi River at Boom Island, June 18.

Manchita and Sophia Eris from GIRL PRTY
Manchita and Sophia Eris from GRRRL PRTY Jonika Stowes/MSR News

Hosted by 89.3 The Current radio station and the Walker Art Center, the new location, combined with the performances, drew a different crowd, including more teenagers. Many boats on the Mississippi docked at the island to listen to the festivities, while others sat along the river dipping their feet in the water. The event was moved this year due to construction at the Walker Art Center.

GRRRL PRTY was the second band to perform on Stage A, one of two stages. Group members Lizzo, Sophia Eris and Manchita performed multiple hit songs including “Can I Live.” The girl group excited many attendees but also disappointed fans with the news that this was their last performance together as a group.

Also, things turned a little serious during GRRRL PRTY’s set when Manchita talked about a recent mental breakdown she’d gone through causing her to be hospitalized at Abbott Northwestern Hospital. She said doctors there helped her through her crisis and offered a website address for audience members to donate to the mental health division of Northwestern.

Attendee Mimi, 23, while standing in a food vendor line with four friends, told the MSR that she didn’t know this was GRRRL PRTY’s last show. When asked about a favorite member of the group, she said she loved them as a whole. Her friends chimed in and all four of them started chanting “Lizzo!”

Lauren (far left) and Mims (far right) and friends are big fans of GRRRL PRTY
Lauren (far left) and Mims (far right) and friends are big fans of GRRRL PRTY Jonika Stowes/MSR News

Mimi expressed sadness over that fact that the group was splitting and said she’s seen Lizzo at Soundset multiple times. She also said any time Lizzo performs at First Avenue she attends.

Other great performances that got the audience dancing were Politica and Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats. The Flaming Lips were just pure fun as lead singer Wayne Coyle threw out party balloons, confetti and had Chewbacca grace the stage. All performers supported each other, as they were seen backstage watching the performances before them.

Over at Stage B, Chance the Rapper had the crowd rapping along with him from the first song he performed. His band included a trumpet player, a unique addition for a rapper’s set. Chance, who has songs out featuring such acts as Lil Wayne, 2 Chainz, Jeremih and R. Kelly, did his rendition of the gospel song “Blessings” and ended his stage performance by teaching the crowd one of his new songs.

Sarah and Sam
Sarah and Sam Jonika Stowes/MSR News

While down in the pit at Stage A, we spoke with Marissa, 18, who said this was the second time at Rock the Garden. “I’m really sad they’re breaking up, it’s a tragedy indeed” she said of of GRRRL PRTY’s last performance together. She added that she really wanted to see Chance the Rapper but the Flaming Lips sounded pretty amazing.

Sarah, 20, and her brother Sam, 16, originally from Iowa City, were found sitting on a towel waiting for Chance the Rapper. Sarah said they attempted to see Chance the Rapper in Chicago but the event was sold out, so she decided to splurge and surprise her brother with Rock the Garden tickets.

According to an employee who works in the membership department at the Walker Art Center, this year’s event was sold out at 16,000 tickets compared to last year’s 20,000 tickets over two days. The worker said the event was cut down to one day with the same amount of performers due to it being off location.

Next year, Rock the Garden returns to the Walker Art Center. The lineup of performers isn’t known until two months prior to the event. Visit for more information.


Jonika Stowes welcomes reader comments to See more photos below. All photos by Chris Juhn except where noted.