In between playing support slots for Warpaint, Cali twins Wyatt and Fletcher Shears are spending their time wisely by bolstering their live reputation with headlining shows of their own.
Winning over the 100 Club is no mean feat, but The Garden unequivocally did so with this, their third ever visit to London. With the recent release of Dazed & Confused’s short documentary on the Shears brothers, Twinheads, they have hugely amped up their intrigue factor and made it patently obvious that having modelled for Saint Laurent and being plucked from obscurity by Hedi Slimane’s talent spotting team is actually the least fascinating thing about them.
Playing a solid hour set with unrelenting energy and merciless pace, The Garden are a thrilling live act. They thrashed through the already wide ranging material they have to their name with never a willing break in between numbers. Actually, the only halt to proceedings are unwelcome technical issues with Wyatt’s bass – but it’s a problem dealt with calmly and covered by impromptu drum fills from Fletcher.
The gorgeous grunge fog of ‘Crystal Clear’ creeps past within the first few minutes of the show. ‘Slice ‘Em’ provides around 120 seconds of menace. ‘Apple’, ‘Surprise!’, ‘I’m A Woman’ and the freshly unveiled ‘I Want That Nose I Saw On TV’ go down as the biggest crowd pleasers of the night. The latter of which made up an electro break in proceedings, along with schizophrenic ‘Cloak’ and the panpsychism-inspired ‘Everything Has A Face’, where instruments are abandoned in favour of a programmed backing track, allowing the brothers to show off their physical freak-out moves, including multiple stage dives from the now freed-up drummer.
Whilst we had hopes for a musical duo with the intense shared intuitive playing of music’s last great mysterious twosome, The White Stripes, The Garden, interestingly, barely interact while on stage. Maybe it’s down to the ever-problematic stage layout of the venue. Perhaps they’re so in sync that both verbal and eye contact are rendered unnecessary. So it’s interesting that their individual performance styles vary so wildly – Fletcher, the unpredictable wildcard and Waytt the controlled frontman. But together they combine to form an intense performance mode that they eerily snap in and out of, dependent upon the sharp punk timings of their songs.
It’s only fitting that The Garden close with two rounds of their 20-second manifesto piece ‘Vada Vada’. It causes a temporary stage-invasion frenzy, something which phases the band not one iota and shatters the moment the last “vada” is uttered.
This is a band with distinct stage presence and refreshing disregard for expectation. Like the audience who hang around for a further half an hour to fawn over The Garden, we want more Vada Vada.