Saturday was a whirlwind from going to a fantastic drag brunch with friends (shout out to Flip Phone and Union in downtown Minneapolis for continuing to bring amazing drag performers to town) to welcoming a new cat into my house (welcome home Doctor Alfie Strayboii!), it was just a whirlwind of a night and when it came time to leave the house for a show, well, I was ready for it. I didn’t know much about the acts performing on Saturday, I knew that the headliner, The Garden, was playing as I was leaving the When We Were Young festival out in Las Vegas. Their performance that night wasn’t enough for me to stick around for them but I blame pure exhaustion and the fact that my feet were about to fall off so I wanted to give them a second a chance.
Unfortunately, The Garden clearly didn’t read any of my posts about making sure to pick an opener that is good but will not outshine the headliner. As soon as Machine Girl took the stage, I was entranced. This duo’s music had me confused in all of the right ways and their live show had me wondering if I could find my way into the sweaty audience that was moving and bouncing to the infectious beats. The best word to describe everything about Machine Girl’s set would be “chaos”. Again, from the music to the energy, it was all just so chaotic and I loved it. Frontman Matt Stephenson had an uncanny way of relating to the young audience with both his words and the way he truly crashed the barrier between stage and audience. At one point, he leaped from the stage, into the crowd, and proceeded to climb the stairs up the side of the venue. I honestly thought he was going to jump from the balcony and although that didn’t help, just the way he was leaning over the edge at a dangerous angle was more than enough to get the blood pumping for the staff I’m sure.
Although there were moments throughout Machine Girl’s set where I felt a bit too old to be there just due to the amount of energy everyone else in the audience seemed to have, I was smitten with this band. It reminded me of the first time I saw 100 Gecs live. Machine Girl’s sound isn’t something I could see myself starting to listen to on the daily, I will absolutely be keeping an eye on the touring schedule in hopes of seeing another Twin Cities date. Much like after seeing Bob Vylan open for Amyl & The Sniffers and then, more recently, seeing The OBGM’s open for Death From Above 1979,
After a quick changeover, the duo, The Garden, took the stage. The Garden’s music is a bit more organized than that of Machine Girl which could be a reason that the two brothers (Wyatt and Fletcher Shears) that make up The Garden seemed to be fairly stagnant in their stage presence. Although their music was intense, and loud, but with a sense of power that could not be ignored, this duo blasted through their set with the audience stuck in the palm of their hands. I was in awe as I watched the way the audience was responding to every single word and note throughout The Garden’s set.
The imagery of The Garden is one that had me intrigued from the first time I saw a picture of them. Donning Juggalo-inspired face paint, I couldn’t help but assume that The Garden was another Insane Clown Posse wannabe band. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Their music is nowhere near that of ICP which begs to question of why they have chosen the black and white clown make-up as their music but who am I to judge? Seeing the hordes of young people that had taken the time to paint their faces white and add black decorations as an ode to the band was beyond fun To watch and see. I may not have been super impressed with The Garden’s overall sound or performance but that means nothing. Seeing how many people were so excited to see this act live to the point where they probably spent a lot of time on their outfits and makeup said everything I needed to know about The Garden. I may not get it but the youth of today do and this band will absolutely be going far.