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By Isabella Balbi

Screen Shot 2022 12 13 At 2.33.16 Pm
Image by Isabella Balbi

Going to a Garden show is an experience – one that grows increasingly more rare given the state of live music today. 

On KZSC alone there are already 4 separate blog posts dissecting The Garden’s past performances – so what is it about these grimy, electro-punk playing jesters that continues to enchant audiences and warrant further exploration?

Image by Isabella Balbi

In a digital age that has eradicated the joy of lining up for physical concert tickets, or flipping through liner notes, the way we consume music in an era dominated by streaming platforms has become passive. It’s lost its communal magic. 

The Garden, in true punk defiance, have navigated this changing landscape with an antiquated approach. Instead of relying on flashy LED screens and elaborate visuals to captivate crowds, The Garden bank on nothing but their dedicated fanbase and aggressive stage presence. 

The Garden
Image by Isabella Balbi

Masters of image, Wyatt and Fletcher Shears have built an aesthetic that encompasses their ethos. The duo’s infamous jester look has been synonymous with the group since 2018, and reflects the ways The Garden continue to act as an interface between edge and irony. 

Drum Closeup 1

When asked how the costumes tie into their music, Fletcher stated “they perform for crowds of people, just the same as in medieval times, where traditionally jesters would perform for a King, or a crowd of townsfolk”. Therein lies The Garden’s brilliant appeal. Modern problems require ancient solutions.  

Glowing pixels are great and all, but have you ever seen a sweaty clown in JNCO Jeans ferociously swing a microphone through the air like a lasso? That’s what I thought. 

Going to a Garden show feels borderline cultish. The bus to the venue is a glorified clown-mobile. Enter the pit and suddenly you’re walking around carnival grounds. In the 80’s, disciples of Robert Smith diligently soaked their back-teased hair in orange juice and smudged black eyeshadow around their eyes in the hopes of being like their idol. Likewise, for Garden fans, the ritual of smearing white paint on your cheeks and dragging a black eyeliner pencil across your face in the shapes of hearts, stars, and other fantastical card suits becomes the appetizer before the meal.

Painting your best friend’s face and comparing post-pit bruises with strangers in the merch line after the show is exactly the kind of communal exchange that’s becoming lost as we rely more increasingly on digital sources for collective and artistic fulfillment. But shows like those put on by the Shears brothers stand as a testament to the kinds of musical communities we should be cultivating.

The Garden are a reminder that there are opportunities to connect through music, without relying on the algorithm as a mediator. 

The fact is, the Shears brothers have amassed martyr level status. They will deliver us from Spotify Wrapped.

Crowd Surf
Image by Isabella Balbi