Garden Grove Amphitheater
On Saturday night, a venue mostly known for strawberries and Shakespeare became a haven for slam dancing and stage diving thanks to a bench-clearing bacchanal delivered by Wyatt and Fletcher Shears of The Garden. The twin brothers from Orange took over the Garden Grove Amphitheater for a show organized by Burger Records and concert promoter Jon Reiser, including sets by Frankie and the Witch Fingers, The Memories and Distractor.
Since the show date quietly surfaced late last month, there’s been plenty of speculation as to the plans for the city-owned, 540-capacity venue also known as the Strawberry Bowl that is mostly known for hosting events during The Strawberry Festival, and community theater during the summer. Recently, it was announced that the High and Mighty Festival featuring Sublime With Rome, The Dirty Heads Jurassic 5 and is also relocating to Village Green Park which includes the Amphitheater as well. And even last weekend, we spotted artists like Tyler, The Creator, Mac Demarco and Colleen Green cruising around in the audience and backstage. Woah, anyone mind telling us when the GG became so hip?!
Anyway, it all seems like a matter of perfect timing for a city that’s been constantly overlooked when it comes to live music by virtue of the fact that they had no real venues, until now.
Saturday night, hoards of shaggy teenagers and Burger acolytes swarmed the outdoor venue as a trio of their favorite bands bashed through a stream of raw, psychedelic tunes, garage rock rhythms and catchy, sunburnt choruses that aerated the city with smell of teen spirit. The orange amphitheater chairs toward the top of the venue were mostly empty throughout the night as kids who paid $15 to get in decided to get their money’s worth by cramming to the front of the unbarricaded stage to become part of a choppy moat of bouncing bodies.
By the time the Garden took the stage around 9 p.m., the mood was ripe for revelry despite some growing pains that included the lights and sound on stage going out at one point before the band was able to perform. It’s the kind of thing that you have to expect at a venue that’s temporarily shed its skin to become an entirely different beast.
After a brief pause, the band got things back on track, exploding with their mix of synth drum pad chaos and visceral bass and drum rhythms that drew heavily from their latest EP U Want the Scoop? And their beloved 2015 album haha that had the crowd jumping like a school of trout in a boiling lake.
In the midst of a rollicking punk show, we were glad to see that the producers of the event felt it was appropriate to leave the stage’s quaint, watercolor forest backdrop and wooden stage structures intact in an effort to keep the spirit of community theater alive amongst all those stage diving miscreants. And man, did they stage dive. A lot.
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The Garden were barely a few songs into their set when fans started hopping into the spotlight to get a running start for their less than graceful cannonballs into the crowd. Not sure what it is about today’s youth, but someone really needs to explain to them that sticking your knees out when jumping into a crowd of people scores you zero points from the judges. Kiddies, it goes like this: Jump, legs out, twist your body, lead with your back. If you’re cool, the crowd will catch you. If not...better hope your parent have good health insurance.
In any case, the vibe of this show felt like a typical Burger gig on steroids. It’s pretty cool to see the excitement over a new venue translate into palpable energy in the crowd. Though we’re still waiting to see more amphitheater shows pop up on the venue’s calendar, The Garden and friends definitely helped set the tone for what could be a very interesting summer in Garden Grove.