Mock the Garden returns for another charitable punk marathon

Mock the Garden founder Drew Ailes

Mock the Garden founder Drew Ailes

Mock the Garden is returning for its second annual installment on August 31 at Memory Lanes, packing 24 bands onto two stages throughout the evening. The brainchild of Brain Tumors lead singer Drew Ailes, also a regular City Pages contributor, the festival was initially created to save the music scene from subpar sound; it aimed to raise enough money to purchase a new PA system for use in punk houses and underground venues throughout the city. This year, all proceeds will be donated to the Minnesota Transgender Health Coalition/Shot Clinic in Minneapolis as well as the community-run Grease Pit Bike Shop.

Beginning at 7:30 p.m., 24 bands will take to two stages, each performing 15-minute sets. There will also be a raffle, with prizes including pedals donated by Z.Vex Effects and coffee from Dogwood. The event is free, but Memory Lanes pays performers based on the amount of guests that show up,  and all of the bands will be donating their earnings. 

The PA system that was purchased by funds raised from the original Mock the Garden has been put to good use, and is currently being passed between two underground venues. Ailes says there have been times where the PA has been used for up to three shows within one week, and assures us that it's currently in good hands. Satisfied with this contribution to underground local and touring musicians, he saw this year as an opportunity to address bigger issues.

“I had the opportunity to bring visibility to an organization that provided services and also kick people some money at a time where there's already some momentum behind the movements,” he says, referring first to the Transgender Health Coalition and then to the Grease Pit, which provides workspace for bike-building, education, maintenance, and repair while promoting mobility, self-sufficiency, and a decrease in the use of fossil fuels.

The Minnesota Transgender Health Coalition is a Minneapolis offers free services including support groups, monthly HIV testing, a shot and needle exchange clinic, food shelf, and lending library. Ailes found inspiration in the recent storm of media attention being devoted to transgender and gender issues. “They're just people,” he says of the transgender and gender non-conforming community. “It's just one facet of their existence. So, I think finally the public is starting to come around and realize that. This is an active issue of ignorance, mistreatment, and inequality in our society that we need to address.” 

“I'm a fuckin' bald white guy; everybody listens to me,” Ailes continues. “I'm the dude in society that people listen to as far as my demographic goes, so I think it's important for people in that position to bring visibility.” He compares this privilege to being in Brain Tumors and having the ability to get up on stage with a microphone, as well as his provocative freelance writing and social media presence. “If you have a persona that people listen to, you have a chance to do something good every time,” he adds. “So why are you going to piss that away on social media taking pictures of food or, you know, your car? Talk about some real shit. Or try to make people laugh.”

Along with the fundraising goals, the messaging surrounding Mock the Garden II also strikes a more serious tone.

“I don't have any grand psychotic statements to say about this festival or anything,” Ailes says when I bring up his words from last year's discussion of how the first Mock the Garden would save Minneapolis from an invasion of sadistic Reptoid aliens. “People were asking me about it, and I realized I had the opportunity to do it and that I could do something good that doesn't just benefit me,” he says. “It opens a door and says here are a bunch of people in these bands that are supportive of you that are doing this all for free. It's a way to kind of try and bring some sort of acceptance.”

Here is the official band lineup for Mock the Garden II:

Proto Rig

Frey FX

Pleasure Wounds



Yoni Yum

Cherry Cola

Naive Sense

On The Cinder (Buffalo, NY)


Lutheran Heat


Cool Dog

Transitional Species

Arnold's Big Outrageous Muscles

Royal Brat



Gay Henry

Animal Lover


Junk Bomb