Gardens & Villa bassist/vocalist Shane McKillop tells a crowd of around 80 people at Sol Santa Fe, Tuesday night, that the band has been playing in Albuquerque to crowds of "like, three people," suggesting that Santa Barbara five-piece should have been coming to Santa Fe all along. "You guys are awesome," McKillop says.
This is the sort of hometown-pride, band-catering-to-fans detail I normally leave out of review notes; however, not only do the comments strike me as genuine, but they also lead me to the following series of thoughts:
1) If the Brooklyn-based, Balkan-inspired band Beirut can fill the Santa Fe Community Convention Center—a venue that caps at 1,800 people—then more than 80 people should be here now. Even factoring in that Beirut has hit critical mass—the point at which people start listening/following without even knowing why—and that bandleader Zack Condon is from SFe, the band’s success here suggests a diverse, adventurous pool of music listeners.
2) Beirut does have that something special—the right combination of charisma, talent and singularity—whereas Gardens & Villa might fall into cosmic-coastal, 80s space-pop obscurity. But…this is a really good show. The initial compulsion to compare G&V to the 24-Hour Party People era dissipates in the awareness that the band's sound has been filtered through 30 years of electronic innovation and Caribbean/beach music, and it's members aren't competing with the audience for the position of greatest asshole.
3) As my generation (X, they call us) inhabits the positions of influence, we should really be conscious to avoid dismissing or belittling the interests and investigations of the subsequent generations, lest we become like our parents, current lawmakers, etc.
4) Hardly anybody appears to be drinking. Cool! How might that change the way we see music if venues typically count on alcohol sales?
5) Thank you Meow Wolf and T-Cubed Productions for this experience. (I would also typically avoid such sentiments in my notes, but I'm trying to follow a somewhat new philosophy to express gratitude and love when the opportunities present themselves.)
At this point, I'm wondering if I'm going to write more about the music itself. I did make a personal note on the fact that, as a nascent music journalist I often used the word "quiver" as a metaphor for musical range—as in, the funk musician also keeps soul and R&B in his quiver—and here is guitarist/vocalist/flautist Chris Lynch with a quiver on his back, full of flutes. And I am still stoked on the "Lover, Lover, Lover" cover by opening band, Races (a psych-synth rock seven-piece, whose guitarist occasionally conjures Jeff Buckley). But, I'm increasingly concerned with the absurdity of describing an auditory artform with words. Only the experience matters, and it differs for each person, each time. So the experience is worth recording.
I'll let Lynch have the final word: "We always heard that New Mexico is a mystical place, so we're really happy to be here."
Next up at SxSF: Ivan & Alyosha with The Grannia Griffith Story on Thursday, March 8. Check out the full schedule on southbysantafe.com.
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