Knowing that your audience will catch you should you choose to throw yourself over their heads while performing must be such an ego boost, don’t you think?
Both Wyatt and Fletcher Shears indulged in such confidence in their audience Tuesday night in San Francisco, surfing their public multiple times throughout their set. Two weeks removed from an extensive European tour and a few dates into a shorter west coast jaunt to promote their debut full-length album, haha, the identical twins – which is about as wildly cool and unsettling in person as you’d imagine – played a breathless set for a young audience gone halfway mad with excitement.
And despite The Garden being miles away from the classification of just another dude punk band (too conceptual, too weird, too self-aware, too postmodern, too willing to project femininity, too few guitars and nowhere near enough fuzz), the audience’s response was very much in the punk tradition. Think crowd surfing and stage invasions galore, constant noise and whooping, a pit that started at peak intensity and stayed that way until the end. From the sheer intensity to the unofficial indie kid dress code of Doc Martens and thrift store finds, it was innately obvious that all this was happening light years away from the monoculture so successfully mined by Adele, The Voice, and Coldplay.
That’s not to indicate that The Garden played with any intention of winning over the mainstream. Wyatt’s bass sounded filthy, and Fletcher was a relentless force behind the kit. (Oh, and it was deafening.) Chalk it up to twin telepathy or adequate practice, but nary a cue was missed – an impressive feat given the amount of drum machine loops and computer tracks required to perform their songs.
Songs such as haha opener “All Smiles Over Here :)” and “We Be Grindin’”, which incited riotous sing-alongs. (Well, more like yell-alongs.) And “Jester’s Game”, which Wyatt introduced by yelling, “You are the kings and queens and we are the jesters and we are here to entertain you!” Fletcher emerged from behind the kit several times throughout the night, thrashing and somersaulting across the stage whenever he did. Wyatt remained a constant presence at the front, strutting back and forth, leaping towards the crowd and thrusting his microphone at different people during every single “WHATEVER, OH WELL” moment of “Cloak”. Both surveyed the crowd from above like predators – no smiling, no casual stage banter, plenty of piercing gazes – and the effect was spectacular. There was no bigger force in the venue than the two of them, and they knew it.
One drum kit, one bass, and an entire audience left breathless. No other band is making music quite like The Garden right now, and few are performing at this level of physicality and ferocity. Long story short: if you thought Royal Blood was the fiercest drum and bass duo alive right now, you thought wrong.