The Garden Haunts Austin with their Danceably Weird Punk

Wyatt Shears of The Garden at the Historic Scoot Inn. Photo by Dana Summers.

 Two tall, identical men took the stage at the Scoot Inn, both with an androgynous appearance reminiscent of a young David Jones. Known as The Garden—with Fletcher Shears on drums and Wyatt Shears on bass and lead vocals—the brothers made for a compelling set at the East Austin venue when they opened up for The Growlers.

The duo from Orange County has been performing their own visceral brand of rock since 2011. They have been very productive in that short amount of time—touring festivals around the world and building a vast discography (the Shears twins have dozens of albums between them when you include their side projects). Last year they made an impact on the fashion world as they walked Parisian runways and gained a fan in designer Hedi Slimane.

Wyatt and Fletcher Shears in Austin during SXSW 2014. Photo by Steele O’Neal.

 The Garden’s constantly evolving sound makes it difficult to categorize, but there is some discernible Californian punk tinged with hip hop and industrial rhythms. To make things simpler, the band created their own descriptor for their music—“Vada Vada.” In their words, Vada Vada is “a song, a genre, a lifestyle, a universe.” Occasionally, the brothers make strange, conceptual music videos to augment the band’s mythology.

On stage the band had an energetic presence and often interacted with the crowd, giving everyone a chance to participate in the show. The setlist was an exercise in the punk tradition of brevity, with most of the songs ranging from one to two minutes. Some of the songs had odd subject matter, such as “The Apple” and “Birds Nest”. On “Crystal Clear” Wyatt Shears combined an ominous bassline with a catchy repeating hook. Another standout was the brooding garage jam “What We Are,” which wouldn’t sound out of place on the Repo Man soundtrack.

The Garden performs an unpredictable set at the Scoot Inn. Photo by Dana Summers.

In one of the exciting moments from the show, Fletcher leapt from his drum kit and Wyatt abandoned his bass to allow a backing track to take over. The brothers then interchanged verses over trap beats with a delivery that evoked the Beastie Boys. At this point, people started dancing more and Fletcher abruptly dived into the crowd.

 The Garden’s set was relatively brief but they definitely had enough time to make an impression. After the show ended, I overheard variations of “that was really good” and “those guys were f—g crazy!” In a town where weirdness is a badge of honor, the Shears twins succeeded in pulling the audience into the strange and beguiling “Vadaverse.”

 Currently the band is working on material for their next full length album; their newest single “Cloak” provides a glimpse into the electronic influences that might be on the upcoming record. The as yet untitled LP is likely to be released by the end of the year. In the meantime, the Garden is in the midst of a West Coast tour with plans to  perform in Europe next month.

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