One thing about a show by The Garden is their fans show up early. While always good for an opening act, tonight it was punk rook legends Shattered Faith as benefactor.
I’ve seen them many times and this set was one to remember. They seemed to enjoy playing for this crowd and the crowd responded back with legitimate appreciation for them as well. While they’re no strangers to a full house, this audience was far younger than the norm for Shattered Faith.
It also helps that drummer Steven Shears is also the father of the twins Wyatt and Fletcher Shears of The Garden. The Garden’s dedicated fans know this and seem to know Shattered Faiths songs, including yelling out a fulfilled request of “Reagan Country.”
Next up were The Deli Girls from New York. While they are a duo, singer Danny Orlowski is the driving force of this band. She’s charismatic, energetic, and very fan friendly.
The Deli Girls delivered a high-energy performance with their unique blend of electronic beats and punk-inspired vocals created a dynamic that had the crowd well prepped for the night. The Deli Girls proved they should not be ignored with in the electronic music scene, leaving everyone wanting more.
In direct support for The Garden was Show Me the Body, who set the stage on fire (figuratively speaking of course). Their raw, gritty sound and use of a freakin’ banjo made for something very unique, instantly grabbing the audience’s attention.
The band’s blend of punk, hardcore, and experimental elements made for an electrifying performance. Front-man Julian Cashwan Pratt’s fierce stage presence and commanding vocals had the crowd riled up from the first note. Their set was a maelstrom of chaotic energy, complete with mosh pits and crowd-surfing.
Show Me the Body’s unapologetic intensity perfectly primed the audience for The Garden, creating an unforgettable night of boundary-pushing music and energetic performances.
If you’re new to The Garden’s music, they bring an array of lo-fi, ‘70s B-movie style, although few songs sound distinctly alike. While their style may not reflect it, their early favorites were classic punk bands like The Minutemen, Agression, and JFA (Jodie Foster’s Army). Couple that with their later discoveries of The Prodigy and Fatboy Slim, and you may better understand why they sound the way they do.
One might say The Garden’s live show brings something more akin to industrial jazz. It’s cranked up and loud, just how we like it. I have no idea if industrial jazz is a thing; I just made that up. But it’s raw, punchy, electric, and hypnotizing. To avoid being pinned to a genre of music, they have termed their music as “Vada-Vada.” They aren’t a rock band; they aren’t a punk band. Therefore, there are no rules that limit what they do.
The Garden took to the stage of Soma without the makeup (à la The Adicts) that everyone is used to seeing them wear. They immediately launched into the aptly titled “What Else Could I Be But a Jester?” done only to a backing track, allowing them to sing and connect with the audience. This means we got Fletcher Shears on vocals and doing somersaults across the stage. From the very first lyric, the audience began singing along loudly and with feeling. Literally every word – they knew them all. Every song. Did I emphasize that enough?
In the next song, both brothers took up their respective instruments. With Wyatt on bass and Fletcher on drums, they kicked into an explosive version of “OC93.” I’m not sure how they could make it any more explosive than their recorded version, but everyone felt it, bringing not only a lyrical assault upon all the pretty faces but also heating up the room. Their fans sang louder and jumped higher, kind of like being at an early Stones or Beatles concert, but everyone wearing makeup that matched the normal Garden attire.
As if to give everyone a rest, for their third song, they broke out the funky “Horseshit on Route 66.” It’s literally a hip shaker. Perhaps more than ever, the brothers displayed a confidence that allowed them to expand their creativity. In this San Diego performance, they pushed past limitations and seamlessly blended all facets of their repertoire into a wild potpourri of styles. Or is it Vada-Vada? Vada-Vada is all it can be, right? They made it, they brought it.
After opening up with three songs from their 2022 release, San Diego got a great mix of songs from other releases like “Grass,” “Banana Peel,” “AM/PM Truck,” and “Hit Eject.” Each song was intense and loud, with a drive that set the audience in a rhythmic trance, totally focused on every note and every word.
They continued with an onslaught of songs, all different from each other but masterfully blended together, like “Call the Dogs Out” and “Egg.” Then, as if in preparation for the Halloween night, a series of spooky themed or titled songs: “Vexation,” “Haunted House on Zillow,” “Chainsaw at the Door,” and “Voodoo Luck.”
Maybe it was just me, but the already thick stage fog got even thicker. Couple that with the backlighting, and it offered eerily scenes of just their silhouettes.
Skipping ahead a bit to “Thy Mission,” as if you didn’t already think every song was a sing-along song, like “California Here We Go,” and their closing before the encore, “Thy Mission,” would make you redefine your definition of it. If I’m being honest, I’m not familiar with some of their closing songs, but I do know “Call this Number Now.” It’s a fun, upbeat song that I’m pretty sure even the parents that were there can appreciate, while it stays true to form for The Garden – it’s offbeat but somehow works.
Making the show even better were the sea of young fans who had painted their faces white with black trim in homage to the band. Witnessing their excitement and effort in dressing up for the show spoke volumes about The Garden. Going forward, I too NEED to see The Garden live more often.