Jack Garratt is a young British musician who combines blues, electronic and pop music in his self-sufficient solo band. Using a drum set on his right, two keyboards on his left, a drum pad and mic at his front and a guitar around his neck, Garratt provided a riveting show Oct. 20 at Union Transfer.
Brooklyn-based Brasstracks opened. They’re two guys who fuse brass, drums and synths to create jazzy hip-hop. The blaring trumpet heard from outside of the venue was just a small taste of what this duo can produce.
Without a vocalist one might think it would be hard to enthrall the audience but when Brasstracks flowed between covers of songs like “Ignition (Remix)” and Drake’s “Trophies” along with their their originals, it was hard not to appreciate the modern and entertaining vibe that came from less outwardly evident hip-hop tools, the brass.
After what seemed like a long while, Garratt finally appeared behind his massive semi-circle of instruments and played “Coalesce.” It is a fitting opening song, especially since the refrain references opening up someone’s mind repeatedly. Instead of opening up someone’s mind he seemed to open up people’s confidence in the room as the audience became visibly more animated as the night went on.
One of the most memorable songs of the night was “Weathered,” a song about Garratt’s struggles with aging and staying young through love. It’s special to watch the appreciation and joy in an artist’s face when he or she takes a step back from the mic and the crowd shouts back the lyrics.
That is exactly what happened when Garratt created a cool bond between himself and the audience; the crowd would sing “when my heart stops beating” and he would finish with “and my blood runs cold.” Crowd interaction is an important part of any show that makes it more personal between the audience and musician.
Garratt demonstrated his range throughout each song, sometimes roaring lines like “give me something I can’t live without” in “Far Cry,” then suddenly switching to a sweet falsetto, singing “but I can feel I’m far from grace, thirsty for your warm embrace.” Sometimes his lyrics came out as a sort of cry of desperation, showing his passion for the performance and in his words, “giving everything he’s got” to the song.
Garratt’s voice range isn’t the only thing that is constantly fluctuating; one of the themes throughout his debut album, “Phase,” is calm soothing melodies in the beginning of the song which unexpectedly drop into exhilarating upbeat choruses. It’s a perfect combination of placid, mesmerizing introductions and energy-infused freeing choruses. The sudden breaks come off as a less overwhelming take on traditional electronic dance bass drops.
Throughout the show Garratt acted like a humble friend of the audience, saying that the crowd signed up for a Q&A not a concert, where he’s the only one who asks the questions. He joked about people illegally downloading his music, and then referenced his album on sale at the merch table.
His behavior is amiable when you know he can pull arena numbers across the pond, but still comes off as grateful and pleased to have a few hundred people in a small venue in Philly.
One of the most fun parts of the night was when Garratt joked that he’s always wanted to act like he’s about to start a cover and just play a bunch of introductions to songs. His joke turned into a reality when he started the instrumentals to a few songs that the audience was disappointed he didn’t break into, specifically “…Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears. He then sarcastically said, “I’m actually going to play a cover of a song that no one has probably ever came here and done,” and started “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” theme song. He then did a full cover of Craig David’s “Seven Days” and Justin Timberlake’s “Senorita.”
After some screams which were enough to elicit an encore, Garratt began “My House Is Your Home” by saying, “this song is about finding home in the people you love.” The final song was his most well-known, “Worry,” and it felt like no one had a worry in the world as the crowd danced and sang along as the night closed.