It’s dark. The two guys on stage are screaming while playing eerie laughing noises paired with an intense electric backing track. You look around for your friends but the makeup is running into your eyes and the mosh pit is growing toward you.
One of the guys on stage sits down at a drum set and the other picks up a bass. Now a bass-heavy punk song is utterly melting your ears. You have no choice but to enter the mosh pit. In it, you are met with other face-painted goons who have every intention to push you as hard as they can. After gasping for breath, you exit the pit while your eight-eyelet Doc Marten boots grip the slick floor, saving you from taking a spill. You can’t help but smile.
This is the average experience at The Garden concert. The Garden is a Southern California punk duo of twin brothers, Wyatt and Fletcher Shears, with a one-of-a-kind sound. It’s a fusion of hardcore punk and electro-pop that shouldn’t work at all, and the twins even define the genre as “vada-vada.” They are often seen sporting jester-like makeup at their shows and on their albums, inspiring fans to dress up the same for their shows.
Their concerts are just as eccentric as their music. Most of the show is just Wyatt on his bass and Fletcher, behind a drum kit. It might seem strange to only hear bass and drums, but most of the songs have backing tracks while they play.
Are you still with me? If you’re still reading, you might have what it takes to attend one of their hellish shows. I’ve survived two of their concerts and gotten out with only a few black makeup stains on my shirts. I recently attended a show on Oct. 26 at SOMA San Diego where I managed to escape unscathed. So allow me to guide you through The Garden concert.
1. The Makeup and Attire
You thought you could go to the concert without a full face of clown makeup? Not so fast. My friends and I all took part in this tradition, whitening out our faces and accenting it with black eyeliner and lipstick. Although you might feel like an idiot driving to the venue looking like a literal clown; you’ll be met with an entire room full of face-painted Garden fans once you enter, making you feel a little more at home.
Next, wear your favorite punk band t-shirt. I opted for a “Black Flag” shirt and got met with several nods of approval, handshakes, and harder shoves in the mosh. Shoes are important. High-tops are preferable so they stay on in the middle of the mosh. I prefer my Doc Marten boots — as they are the staple for many old school punks — but Converse Chuck Taylor’s work too.
2. The Awful Opener
If you arrive on time you’ll most likely have to sit through a few opening bands. Both Garden shows I went to had horrible openers, so prepare accordingly with earbuds. Consider standing in the back to watch it, and save your moshing energy for the main act. After the overly distorted first opener at the recent show, my brain was numb with pain. Occasionally, you’ll be met with a great band like I was at the most recent show. The second opener, Show Me The Body, performed some great metal punk songs.
3. The Show
Alright, you made it. Your face paint is starting to bleed a little bit as you push your way to the front but you could care less as you see The Garden drum kit being set up. Then the lights go out and Wyatt and Fletcher make their way to the stage. The crowd is beginning to push forward while also opening up in the middle for the mosh as the music starts up.
Don’t be frightened, embrace it. You won’t be here for long, because the short punk songs usually only make the show about an hour long. The Garden always prepares a great setlist, for the most recent show it featured plenty of songs from their last album “HORSESH** ON ROUTE 66” and some of their older classics.
The twins will fluctuate between playing their respective instruments, and just running around on stage performing wild antics while singing over a track.
4. The Mosh
OK, there aren’t many punk acts around anymore with moshes like The Garden so you’re in for a treat if you like real moshing (let’s be clear, moshing is not just jumping up and down). There’s no better feeling than waking up the next morning sore from getting elbowed and thrashed every which way.
Always be sure to take breaks and follow mosh etiquette which means to stop and pick someone up if they’ve fallen. Also, watch your arms; I nearly broke my arm at the show after I pushed someone and another person fell into my arm bending it backward. Finally, don’t do anything you don’t want to do. If you prefer to just watch the twins play music and evade any injury, I recommend doing so.
5. You Made It
Well, that’s it. You drive home with most of your makeup sweated off as you relive the best songs of the night with your friends. The Garden concerts are always a rollercoaster and hopefully if you choose to go you’ve been prepared accordingly. Good luck and stay safe.