The Garden brothers, Fletcher and Wyatt Shears, have a lot going for them. From modeling for the likes of Hedi Slimane in the Yves Saint Laurent 2013 Fall Menswear show to being considered the next generation of the United States’ punk scene, they’ve got a strangely diverse repertoire for being just two Orange County 21 year olds. Currently, they’re on a West Coast tour promoting all of their albums, which are a mix up of lo-fi garage punk, electro-hip-hop and a genre that they’ve coined “Vada.”
The “Vada” genre is what the Shears twins describe as an all-encompassing universe in which they live and breathe. It’s anything and everything, and for them it’s a genre as well as a way of life. And so, at Leo’s in Oakland last Friday, the Garden twins swept us into their so-called “Vada-verse.”
After three very bizarre openers (consisting of men dressed as aggressive, punky beekeepers, and an appearance by DJ Genie Factory who played only ‘90s club music) the lights dimmed. Fletcher Shears — garbed in his unusual women’s clothing — walked on stage, nimbly climbed atop his drum set as a corny R&B song blared through the speakers. Following Shears’ grand entrance, Wyatt Shears, bass guitarist and lead vocalist, sauntered in, adorned in a cowboy hat and a lot of denim. Without any words and only so much as a glance between the two of them, they began the first of many 60-second long tracks.
After about four very short songs, they launched into an electronic/proto-hip-hop set, beginning with “Cloak.” Suddenly, an almost karaoke-esque sing along ensued — but it was a sing-along with much more unintelligible lyrics and a lot of yelling. The twins whipped themselves to and fro across the stage and made the first of many crowd dives.
“This city’s got style — so much style I’m almost distracted by it,” yelled Wyatt Shears as they began a very spitfire rendition of “Interrupt,” which, ironically enough, was interrupted by an errant stage crasher who accidentally knocked the cable out of Wyatt Shears’ bass.
Without a doubt, the biggest hit of the evening was “Apple.” The crowd vivaciously sang along to the chorus (“Have you ever seen an apple walking around?”) as the brothers stepped away from the mic.
Considering The Garden is composed of two young and slightly unassuming men, they cover a massive amount of stage in a mildly aggressive yet very electrifying manner. People began to mosh once they heard the very first notes of the song and never relented until the final moments of the show.
At least three different people made their way on stage, only to fall right into a crowd-surf frenzy. The brothers themselves took a few dives, energizing the already amped crowd in the process. Fletcher Shears jumped onto the top of his drum-set, tossing his sticks into the air and catching them again, miming bizarre faces behind his singing twin. And at one very high-energy moment, he leapt into the rafters of the venue, jumping off the precarious spot and — luckily yet surprisingly landing safely back to the ground.
There was not a single sedentary body at Leo’s; people were going mental for the Shears brothers’ charms. They played tracks ranging from their first EP to their latest album, “The Life and Times of a Paperclip,” giving the set a massive amount of diversity as they consistently changed up from the playing of rapid punk bass and drums to lo-fi electronica/house interludes.They bantered with both the crowd and each other, climbing on one another and swinging their microphones above their heads like lassoes.
Once the twins finally clambered off the stage, the crowd was thrust out of the world that the brothers artfully crafted. Garden’s “Vada-verse” certainly was a sight to behold.
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