Machine Girl, Le1f, And The Garden: Live From Cleveland

Over Thanksgiving break, I went home to Cleveland. When I saw that The Garden was coming to Mahall’s, a retro bowling alley that doubles as a concert venue, I was ecstatic. On the day of the concert, I arrived at the venue early, knowing that it would fill up quickly. 

I secured a spot in the first row behind the amplifier. The lights went down, and the drummer from the first opening act, Machine Girl, sat down as he donned a chunky pair of headphones and started pounding on the drums. At this point, the lead vocalist began beating on an electric keyboard and starts wailing into an auto-tuned microphone. This breakbeat duo induced a massive energy into the crowd. Everyone in the room was pushing each other and screaming. Hearing from girls in the bathroom that the band had been spitting on the crowd the night before, I had no idea what to expect. 

The show Machine Girl put on was loud, aggressive, and energizing. If you are looking to mosh and get thrown around in a circle of sweaty twenty-something year old’s, Machine Girl will give you just that. 

After about ten minutes after the first opener ended, Le1f smoothly glided onto the stage. Already drenched in sweat after the first song, titled Koi, he ripped off his heavy fur jacket. Pulling dance moves from drag culture, this key figure in openly gay rap scene put on quite the show. His velvety voice filled the room, and everyone in the room was getting into it Le1f looked like a model: he was owning the stage and glistening while doing so. Hands came up towards Le1f from every direction. I turned around halfway through the show and saw Wyatt Shears, the lead singer of The Garden, standing on a table and nodding along to this luscious act.

He ended the show with an upbeat song, “Rage”, which put the crowd in the mood to dance, and prepared them for what was to come. 

The room was completely filled by now. Those who left after seeing Machine Girl were replaced by double the amount of garden fans. Looking around, I saw some covered in paint and dressed like clowns, a trademark of The Garden.

The entire room filled with smoke as I saw Fletcher Shears, half of The Garden duo, hop on stage and make his way over to the translucent orange drum set. He looked chic, his long hair covering most of his face, almond-shaped acrylic nails, and wearing a tight black turtleneck. He sits for a second and relaxes while his twin brother, Wyatt Shears, runs past me onto the stage. Wyatt looked a little grungier, wearing a cutoff tee-shirt, clear construction glasses, a black trench coat, and dress pants. His hair was dyed blonde in the front and brown in the back. 

I heard the blaring of an electric beat and I knew instantly what would come next. The crowd was swept off of their feet with the first song, “Clay”. The riff of Wyatt’s guitar started to blare over the electronic track.  Everyone in the room was jumping around and singing along at the top of their lungs.

Switching out the original lyrics with vulgar words throughout the show, Wyatt kept the audience on their toes. The crowd lost their minds when “U Want the Scoop?” began playing on a loop. For this song, Fletcher emerged from behind the drum set and began bouncing around the stage, chanting alongside his brother.

At one point, Wyatt threw a plastic storage bin onto his head and shoved the microphone into the bin while still belting the lyrics to “Play Your Cards Right”.

The only time the band stops playing is when they thank the openers for performing with them. After Wyatt said a quick thank you to the openers, I started to hear dogs barking, and the riff of Wyatt’s base. Fletcher was drumming on the snare when the beat slowly escalated. 

“We’ll knock the other ones out” Wyatt repeated quickly into the microphone.  “Crystal Clear”, a fast pace punk-inspired song was the highlight of the show. This track live really showed what talent The Garden had to offer: the incessant, rapid strumming of the base, the quick drum beats, the electronic accents, and the clipped-singing style along with Wyatt’s hand gestures that he incorporated throughout the show. This song was truly the highlight of my night.  

After playing seventeen songs, The Garden ended with “All Smiles Over Here:)”, one of their most popular tracks. We were all head bobbing and jumping around, responding back at the microphone Wyatt pointed at us during the refrain. Wyatt finished by ripping on his bass one last time, and after this, the twins said thank you and walked off.

After the show, I then saw Wyatt hanging out in the venue. I got a chance to speak with him and tell him what a great show it was. He was easily approachable and was cracking jokes throughout the interaction. I said goodbye and wished him and his brother good luck on the rest of their tour. Overall, The Garden played a phenomenal show, and their music sounded even better in person. If you ever get a chance to see The Garden, buy your tickets early because these shows fill up quickly, and be ready to see an energetic, entertaining, and extremely talented band play.

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