The Garden’s Charm Might Steal Your Heart
by Mica Kendall
Imagine running an entire marathon in a confined space with hundreds of people. That is what being in the center of a mosh pit at a Garden show feels like. The Garden’s latest show at The Sinclair in Cambridge was a huge venue jump from their sold-out show at the Great Scott in April. Needless to say, The Garden’s popularity has skyrocketed since 2015 when twins Wyatt and Fletcher Shears started touring nonstop.
The Shear brothers have struck a chord with listeners, bringing something completely new to the experimental rock scene, with their self-described “vada vada” subgenre. In interviews when their sound is often compared to post-punk music or reminiscent of quirky instrumentation in 80s music like bands like Devo. The Shears, however, deny any specific genre influence and instead embrace their individuality through their expressive vada vada sound. Vada vada is an open interpretation term with The Garden not confining themselves to one specific sound, but vada vada definitely contains a kitschy personality filled with cleverness and wit. Classic Garden lyrics like “I eat cereal but I ain’t no cereal killer” and “everything has a face/faces control everything” are just one of the many examples that best exemplify what vada vada connotes. Not only do fans love and embrace the essence of vada vada both in The Garden’s music and fashion taste, but the vada vada style has captured the attention of well-known acts such as Tyler the Creator, Mac Demarco, and Julian Casablancas.
The Garden delivered a hefty set at The Sinclair, combining fan favorites from both their staple album 2015 Haha and latest 2018 release Mirror Might Steal Your Charm. Kicking off the show with some squeaky toy instrumentals from their effervescent“Clay,” Wyatt immediately fostered up all his energy in aggressively delivering the first line “kick his bucket no fucking way.” Matching Wyatt’s upfront energy fans off the bat formulated an open circle pit in the middle of the crowd where brave souls could fling themselves into the open space and see where in the crowd they would land. Unlike other concerts, the circle pit did not subside just after the first song, but instead, it lasted the entire set. The Shear twins did not waste a second of time with their set, delivering song after song with little to no breaks. The quick transition in between the songs left fans breathless after each moshing intensive song, but at the same time excited and ready for more of the songs The Garden had to offer.
Occasionally, on songs like “Stallion”, “U Want the Scoop?”, and “Banana Peel,” Fletcher would part from his drum kit and join Wyatt on stage with a microphone and rile up the crowd while doing handstands and somersaults. A key component that differentiates The Garden from any other punk or mosh-centric band is how vivacious the Shear twins live performance energy that translates directly into the crowd’s energy. Whether attending a Garden show for the first time or multiple times throughout their various tours over the years, both veteran and new fans can agree that a major appeal to seeing The Garden live is how fun and memorable their set it. Also, The Garden shows generally have no boundaries when it comes to how crazy one wants to be or how much emotions one wants to channel into their mosh pit kung fu kick. In essence, The Garden shows promote a socially acceptable environment where it is okay to literally cheerleader toss a stranger in the air to crowd surf or shove the person next to you into oblivion.
Finishing the set with the song “All Smiles Over Here :),” in which Wyatt dispersed his microphone throughout the crowd encouraging fans to scream the lyrics into the microphone, the fans were in denial about the hour set already being over. A common census in the crowd was established through a loud unified “encore” shout that permeated throughout The Sinclair. When The Garden fans demand, Wyatt and Fletcher made it clear that they will always be there to supply. The twins closed the night with “Surprise,” “Egg,” and “Vada Vada.” It wasn’t until the end of the 20-second track “Vada Vada” where the crowd’s hour and half open circle pit finally came to a close.
The Garden’s newfound prominence in the music realm, aided by their signing with the well-known record label Epitaph Records, signifies a progressive catalyst towards a more genre diversified music industry. Challenging the notions of popularity in music and embracing their own sense of individuality, The Garden is one of the most progressive and up and coming bands to infringe upon the alternative punk music scene. Though The Garden will probably never be the type of band you will hear on mainstream radio, they will surely become the type of band to inspire a plethora of other experimental artists. The Garden’s uniqueness as musicians has earned them a first-time slot playing at the Coachella music festival and a spring Australian tour, leveraging The Garden’s popularity to a now international base of fans.
Though The Garden’s US tour has come to a close, it is safe to say that The Garden will have another album or EP like U Want the Scoop? for fans in the near future. For now, you can enjoy the latest release of Fletcher’s new album, X Hail, from his side project known as Puzzle. If you ever have the opportunity to see The Garden live do not miss out on one of the most ferocious mosh pit experiences of your life.