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Gardens & Villa, a band from Santa Barbara, Calif., entranced a crowd of about 100, many of which happened to be hipsters with a PBR in hand, on Saturday at the Larimer Lounge with a sound that is ahead of its time and all their own. This up-and-coming band has a soft spot for Denver, playing at the Hi-Dive, Bluebird Theater and the Larimer Lounge two times before the Saturday show.
As I entered the Larimer Lounge, the atmosphere was friendly, and the venue wasn’t filled up yet. The Lounge is small, which allows fans and musicians to co-mingle. Because of this, I was able to briefly talk with Gardens & Villa’s lead singer, Chris Lynch.
According to Lynch, a plus about being on the road is trying out diners.
“The best are in the Midwest,” Lynch said.
But there is always a downfall of being on tour. What is that for Lynch?: “The eight- to 10-hour drives in a van.”
After speaking with Lynch for a bit, it was time to check out the Denver-based opener Flashlights. The upbeat sounds that the group produced were energetic. People who were near the bar entered the stage area and joined in the dancing.
As I got closer to the stage, I could see that the duo was having a blast playing for their home crowd. Because I didn’t know who the band was beforehand, discovering new music was an amazing way to start the night off.
With the end of Flashlight’s set, the crowd dispersed for a bit and cooled down on the back patio. During the break, electronic music played to keep the energy going. As the next set approached, concert-goers started to enter the venue.
When Garden’s & Villa came onstage, the lights dimmed as they opened with “Thorn Castles.” The crowd started singing along and swaying with the music.
Due to the size of the Larimer, everyone was able to find a good spot to watch and enjoy the music. Those in the front were extremely close to the band, and this closeness brought an intimate touch that is hard to come by at other larger venues. Simple lights located behind the band highlighted the five members and threw shadows around the venue.
When they played their cover of “Gypsy” from their contribution to the album, “Just Tell Me That You Love Me – A Tribute to Fleetwood Mac,” the lights turned from purple to a deeper blue to red, causing the crowd to focus on everything happening on the dark stage. Closer to the stage, details were clearer, such as the way Lynch almost serenaded into the mic, a lot like Prince. During this set, someone behind me claimed this version was better than Stevie Nicks’ original, but I would have to disagree.
Gardens & Villa ended its original set with “Star Fire Power.” They came back on to play “Orange Blossom,” my personal favorite from the band’s self-titled album. The use of what sounded like a Peruvian pan flute was an amazing and tantalizing addition of a rare sound to the music.
Gardens & Villa is extremely talented. Hearing them for the first time at the Larimer Lounge was a great way to get a taste of what is to come from them in the future.
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