Gardens & Villa Create a Tuesday-Night Dance Party Last Night at the Sunset"/>
Gardens & Villa
This post is part of a series in which we review bands playing around town on Tuesday nights.
Gardens & Villa The Sunset Tuesday, Oct. 11
Tuesday, Oct. 11
There must be something in the water at Gardens & Villa's fabled group house in Santa Barbara (from which they take their name). Their aesthetic is hard to put a finger on-- part '80s, part post-punk, and part SoCal hippie. It's quite a blend, but one that allowed them to produce their soothing, mystical debut and, last night at the Sunset, to play a set that was funky without being cloying and danceable without being over the top. A tired Tuesday-night crowd started complacent and happy to stand and ended the night dancing and cheering for one more song.
If you haven't heard Gardens & Villa's self-titled record, get thee to Spotify. The 10 songs (produced by Richard Swift, who also works with Damien Jurado) have an old-soul vibe familiar to fans of Pickwick or Motopony, but add a dark, synth-infused rumble and a psychedelic affect that makes listening a trip of its own. The natural world dominates the lyrics, in references to picking blackberries, climbing a mountain, or a bee pollinating a flower as a metaphor for . . . well, you know. Live, the restraint exercised in production transformed into increased energy and a truly electric feeling onstage as the band combined live instrumentation with synths and electronic drums. The sound emerged squinched and squalling, pinched this way and that by the tight, bass-driven melodies and Chris Lynch's unique falsetto vocals.
When you're wearing a fringed quiver stocked with wooden flutes, you're succeeding at something. Lynch occasionally whipped one out to play a melody, and it was fascinating to hear the combination of live, "natural" flute backed by its synthetic equivalent. The band made a commitment to playing all parts live à la Talking Heads, so everyone got quite a workout, especially multi-instrumentalist Dustin Ineman, who wielded maracas, conga, flute, drum pad, tambourine, and keys, adding the little details that made the sound so complex.
By the end of the set, the crowd was revitalized and begging for more, which was delivered in the form of "the only other song we know," which turned out to be a to-the-letter cover of Gary Numan's "Cars." No doubt this choice reveals something about the band, but exactly what will have to come from repeated listens to their album. Or another live show. Come back soon, G&V!
Overheard: "A rising tide raises all ships," Sarah Jurado's zen aphorism for the Seattle music scene.