Photographs by Neil Van.
There is a lot of anticipation when accolades start attaching themselves to a name; for twenty-four year old UK export Jack Garratt, his titles declare him as the future. The winner of BBC’s Sound of 2016 poll and the Critics Choice recipient at this year’s Brit Awards, Jack Garratt is easily poised for a busy year ahead. But more important than the famed feedback from across the pond is the basic explanation to Jack Garratt’s seemingly sudden takeover: he is a mesmerizing one-man sonic surfer.
The deep genre bending curated on his just-released debut album, Phase, is a very telling sign of Garratt’s wave, but the most powerful confirmation of his actual ability is in his live performance. With a complicated set up of keys, synths and guitar, a genuine sense of surprise and humor, and adventurous adaptations of his own work at The Garrison in Toronto earlier this week, Garratt successfully (and independently; he commanded the entire set by himself) indicated that he is anything but a one-trick pony.
It often felt like Garratt was embodying his work with a physicality that drove the intensity of his multilayered production, making him promise that he would try to keep his hat on for the entirety of the night as he performed in a very hot and sold-out venue at an early point in the show. If it affected his effort in any way, no one would have been able to tell; Garratt was too busy embracing the crowd’s desire to start a sing-a-long for his hit song “Weathered” or encouraging it once more for “Fire”, a frantic electronica ballad punctuated by Garratt’s soulful vocals. In some moments, he appeared consumed by the show he was directing from his stage, but left just enough room for everyone to join his story.
Between Garratt and opener Kacy Hill (a G.O.O.D. music pledge with an ethereal presence), the entire evening landed with gorgeous notes. Garratt’s one-hour performance was threaded by his evocative voice that made the show an experience. Whether performing a stripped-down version of “Surprise Yourself”, a Craig David and Justin Timberlake mashup of “7 Days”/”Señorita” or the sweeping “Synesthesia, Part 1”, Garrett made an experience out of every number. Though appearing bewildered by the quick sell-out nature of the evening, anyone who was able to bare witness to his talents, all the way to the last moments of “Worry”, can confidently say that this is just the first of many to come.