Photos by Cheryl Georgette.
At this point I’ve seen The Garden three or four times but this time their already explosive energy had transformed, they’ve finally harnessed the seemingly endless supply of their militant energy. I’ll level with you, listening to their new EP, “U Want The Scoop?” was probably my least favorite track. But a band like The Garden takes a song you’ve listened to 100 times, takes a set you’ve seen five or six times they shred it to it’s core, set it on fire and build up using the kinetic energy. The minute they laid into “U Want The Scoop?” it seemed like the life force simmering on the border between our plane and the next one burst open.
The kids (the crowd, especially given it was an all ages show on a Saturday) was very young. The first half of their set was immediate white heat, electric shock. They bounced off the walls and Fletcher took the lead in spitting out the irony social laden lyrics of the track.They moved into their next track, the upbeat “All Access” and it felt like deja vu. The accompanying music video for the track was a shockingly close depiction of what the track’s performance was like it except you know, more. They performed the song with the same vivacity that the music video implied, Vada Vada flag (a white flag feeling like the symbol of their utmost surrender and liberation by Vada Vada).
Fletcher’s slowly been inching his way out from his spot behind the drum set to the point where his confidence out in front of his perennial barrier is so graceful, he borders somewhere between a combative ballerina and an anime character. There is a childlike innocence to the way The Garden move around on the stage, it’s a bizarre type of purity. It makes me think that they really truly do not give a shit about how they look (movement wise, not aesthetic) on any molecular level. It’s the same thing that makes a young Iggy Pop so enthralling to watch. It’s somehow abrasive, innocent and completely abominable in the most life affirming way.
With all of this happening it’s clear why the show was different than the times I’ve seen them. Their fans have evolved, they have new kinds of super fans dedicated to them down the aestheticism. There aren’t really parameters for what The Garden’s exact aesthetic is, especially since it changes all of the time but it’s one of those things that you know it when you see it. I was literally physically taken aback when I saw a gang of super fans decked out in imitation of Wyatt and/or Fletcher Shears. Colored Berets, suit jackets, floor length leather dusters, the works. But there’s also a grotesque and difficult flip side to this kind of adoration. There are inklings of its potential throughout the night. The crowd is young and somewhat obnoxious. Throughout the second half of the set kids are climbing up onto the stage and stage diving off. It’s honestly endearing and fun and the rest of it until the ugliness starts seeping in, most obvious when a girl gets on stage to get a selfie with Wyatt before plunging back into the void.
The Garden leaves the stage after they finish their set. Immediately four girls jump onto the stage to take selfies, ransack the stage and possibly try to find sweat to rub into their open pores. I know it sounds bad but it gets worse. Eventually the Vada Vada banner in the background comes down (not sure exactly what happened to it, maybe the pure energy radiating from teenage girls vibrated it off the wall), a girl then takes the Vada Vada flag, waving it around to the sound of screeching girls before (I think) trying to make a run for it. At this point Fletcher is back on the stage taking back the flag and likely thwarting off the throngs of teenage girls from stealing whatever else they could get their hands on. He starts just beating on the drums with Wyatt joining him momentarily. They begin going through their encore but the energy and vibe has changed. It’s violent and aggressive, the fans have crossed some sort of invisible line. It’s chaos and anarchy and not in any interesting way that reflects on some sort of pseudo-punk nihilism and hopelessness, but in an entitled and grotesque way. They begin storming the stage and it looks like spring break in Cancun. Maybe this will make me sound condescending or self important or fucked up but (!!) I gotta say it. It was like some dystopian depiction of social media obsessed generation (which in and of itself is literally the most annoying phrase “social media obsessed generation” feels like old white dudes in white collar prisons complaining about brown kids who want equal rights BUT it was what I saw). The kids on the stage were up there and they were probably having fun (I guess) but they were also snap chatting the whole experience and jamming up the stage so bad that they were interfering with the performance and honestly frighteningly dangerous and rabid.
Anyways maybe this is what happens when you reach a certain level of cult-like admiration, I don’t really know. And maybe that type of self-obsessed anarchy is okay and maybe it wasn’t even what I described at all, maybe that was all projections of my own shit tinted glasses. The point remains, go see The Garden.