On the evening of March 10, the fiery-haired UK multi-instrumentalist and former music teacher Jack Garratt entranced his crowd during a sold-out show at the iconic Great American Music Hall. Even the pouring rain could not keep the audience, consisting of local San Franciscans, from witnessing his genre-defying performance.
Opening for Jack was fellow ginger Kacy Hill, who is signed to Kanye’s G.O.O.D Music and was a backup dancer during the Yeezus tour. She kicked off her first US tour performing songs off her debut EP, Bloo (2015). Her light yet soulful voice fluttered over an epic crescendo of drums on “Arm’s Length”, an upbeat track reminiscent of Florence + the Machine, and soared on the ethereal “Foreign Fields,” which was produced and co-written by Jack.
Before leaving the stage, Kacy introduced Jack as “the top tier of humanity,” and her claim was credible after that night’s performance. Standing on a bare stage with nothing more than a drum machine, guitar, keyboard, and microphone, he seamlessly performed songs off his debut album Phase (2016) as a one-man band. He set an otherworldly atmosphere with “Synesthesia, Pt. 1” before transitioning into the face-melting guitar solo of “Water”. A combination of shimmering synths, heavy drums, and raspy yet soulful vocals sent the audience into a dancing frenzy straight through four numbers- “Breathe Life,” “Far Cry,” “Chemical,” and “Fire.” Throughout Jack improvised elaborate piano and guitar solos.
Jack displayed his split personality with “Weathered” and “Worry,” transporting his audience from a tranquil English countryside to a grimy underground London club. On “The Love You’re Given,” Jack displayed his versatile vocal abilities, transitioning from growling shouts to delicate, airy falsettos a-la Bon Iver. Though some may characterize his music as electronica indie-pop, a more accurate description would be Celtic folk meets hard rock meets future drum and bass. After an emotional and impassioned performance of “Surprise Yourself,” Jack received a well-deserved applause for more than half a minute.
Between songs, Jack charmed us with his accent, cracked profane jokes, and displayed his silly side by drawing attention to his zany outfit of the night — a sweater and snapback with matching galaxy and doughnut prints. Before he finished his show, he thanked the audience for being an integral part of his show, calling us his “600-member band.” Apparently the respect was mutual and reciprocated between him and us. But nonetheless, Jack Garratt is part of the wave of talent coming out of the UK, the amount of which is simply astounding. Perhaps there is something in the water over there.
Article by Kenneth Zhang