SHOW REVIEW: Jacco Gardner at Death By Audio

There was a brief period of time when some friends of mine were trying to get me to move to Chapel Hill, NC.  We took a little road trip out that way to check out the tri-boro area and I remember stopping at this record store that had all these great British psych-folk records from the late sixties and I was so overwhelmed that all I could do was buy a couple comps with the most obscure-sounding bands in the tracklist I could find because hey, we’ve all got to start somewhere.

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Jacco Gardner
Jacco Gardner at Death By Audio

Listening to Amsterdam’s Jacco Gardner feels something like getting those records home and and onto a turntable for the first time.  Like I’ve discovered something precious and mysterious, like I wandered too far into the wood at twilight and magical things have started to happen. The band recently wrapped up their second US Tour at Death By Audio to a very enthusiastic audience (I overheard a guy in a leather jacket and gold chains compare them to Love with the addendum that “that’s one of the best compliments I could give a band”).

On Gardner’s debut LP Cabinet of Curiosities (available now from Trouble In Mind Records), he’s credited as producer and multi-instrumentalist.  On stage he minds the keyboards and synths, with help from Jos van Tol on drums, Keez Groenteman on guitar, and Jasper Verhulst on bass.  The boys are in their mid-twenties but have the look of a still more youthful band, sweetly thanking the crowd after the applause faded, with a special nod to their booking agent; Gardner gushed in his bashful Dutch accent “This tour has been the best time of my life”.

The timeless sort of tunes that Jacco Gardner plays aren’t throwbacks so much as visits to a completely different era.  The sound is so perfectly distilled and replicated it’s a task to remember your exact position in space and time with all the fanciful lyrics and lilting guitars and frolicking harpsichords washing over you.  That Gardner is able to stitch together such whimsical narratives without losing his vision in pastiche is one remarkable feat, and he’s accomplished quite another in translating that so skillfully to live performance.  Gardner will return to the states sometime in the spring, likely with new material; in the meantime, you can stream Cabinet of Curiosities on bandcamp.  Personally, I felt compelled to grab a copy on vinyl – I’m saving it for a rainy day when I need to be utterly transported.

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