TVD Live: Jacco Gardner at Baby’s All Right, 8/16

I first heard Jacco Gardner in Oxford, Mississippi in the midst of a tour of the southern United States in 2013. I was checking out R.E.M. bootlegs, of which there was a vast selection, at a store called The End of All Music. On the store stereo was the record Cabinet of Curiosities by Jacco Gardner. They only had the one copy, and after some negotiation, Matt (one of my partners in rock) managed to score it.

We proceeded to drive all over America, and quite often this record was our soundtrack. Through rain, snow, desert heat, darkest night, and blurriest morning, Jacco always delivered.

In November of 2013, the men and I found ourselves in Manchester, England with a day off. We decided to go out and explore. Manchester is one of the classic music towns in the world, full of history and interesting people. We decided we should check out the place we were going to play the next night and seek refreshment. Once there, and successfully refreshed, we realized that Jacco was playing across the street that night. Great news indeed.

The show was glorious and intimate. It was sold out, but it could only hold 30 people at most. I remember being really struck by the back wall projections. I had forgotten how effective a vibey projection can be. How it can actually change the meaning of a song, and if not change it, then subliminally nudge your mind to listen with a different viewpoint. After the concert we met and chatted with Jacco and the rest of the group and generally made merry. I got the record for myself this time and counted down the days till we got home for Thanksgiving.

When Cabinet of Curiosities came home with Alex for Thanksgiving, I was pretty much sold by the cover art and Donovan font, and then I was doubly charmed by what I heard. It’s whimsical, magical, delightful music, with really delicate and thoughtful arrangements. It is definitely 1960s psychedelia, but Jacco has completely made it his own.

The show at Baby’s All Right on 8/16 was a pretty perfect recreation of the record, and the sound man and the room did the fellows justice. Everything was balanced super well, especially the vocals, which Jacco insisted to keep tucked, preserving their gentleness.

I was impressed with the tightness of the band and dynamics, percussion breakdowns, harmonies, and stellar lead guitar that opened up on a couple of songs into unexpected heavy, darker jams, grounding the pop and bounce with a little grit.

There are a fair amount of critical sounds on the record that might prove challenging to tour with, so I was happy to hear the keyboardist sampling them, in lieu of the common trend of backing tracks and a drummer on the click. That just bores me to tears, I have to say.

Jacco is a precious site, and the aesthetic spilled over into the crowd. Three lovelies were up front looking like they just walked out of the movie Blow Up. Luckily I was alone, so I chatted two of them up after the show—a brother and sister, Sloan and Felix, visiting with their equally chic mother from Athens, Texas—a town I frequented as a child for the Annual Black-Eyed-Pea Festival because my father was friends with the mayor, but I digress.

They were darling, and their presence transported me to perhaps a better time and place to receive Jacco’s whimsey.

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