Story and photos by Johan Moreno
The day before his sold out show at The Troubadour, Gabriel Garzón-Montano sent this message out on his Twitter account: “I think I fractured my left foot. I was having fun shaking my ass for you guys, but I’ll be on crutches or sitting for these shows. Alas.”
Los Angeles holds a special place for Montano. His latest release, “Jardín,” was imprinted by Highland Park’s Stones Throw Records and has been in heavy rotation on KCRW, which has raised his profile. But besides a set of Stones Throw showcases and an album release show at Amoeba Music, this was his first official headlining show in Los Angeles.
However, Montano’s injury did not stop him from performing an electric set in front of an eager crowd at the intimate West Hollywood venue. And yes, he even found the energy to groove around for a few songs.
Montano kicked off the show with a few cuts from “Jardín,” including “Sour Mango,” “The Game” and “Long Ears.” The three tracks reflect Montano’s style of funky, soulful pop, in the fashion of artists like D’Angelo and Erykah Badu. During the show, he performed the entirety of his debut EP “Bishouné: Alma del Huila,” including “Six Eight,” a track that brought Montano to prominence when it was sampled by Drake on “Jungle.”
Where Montano particularly shined was in his performance of his piano-driven ballads, including “Fruitflies,” “Crawl,” “Pour Maman” and “Keep On Running.” These changed the mood of the audience, which Montano recognized. “Come on guys, we can be vulnerable, it’s about that time of the night,” he said.
For those who might not know his background, Montano was raised in Brooklyn to a French mother and a Colombian father. His sound is influenced by the music he grew up on, as seen in his performance of “Me Alone.” The track, found on “Bishouné,” consists of drum loops, in the style of Radiohead, and high-pitched, soulful vocals, à la Prince. Both artists have been stated to be influences of Montano. From there, he seamlessly transitioned into a cover of “El Pescador” from Colombian bullerengue singer Totó la Momposina, a nod to his heritage.
It was at this moment in the show where the crowd could see the versatility of Montano’s talent, which transcends cultures, generations and genres. There is no label you can put on Montano’s music, representing the future of music, where small fragments of borrowed jewelry can be stitched together to form a shining gem.
Gabriel Garzón-Montano will perform at the Natural History Museum on Friday, June 9. More info.
Thursday, May 11
1. “Sour Mango”
2. “The Game”
3. “Long Ears”
4. “Me Alone”
5. “El Pescador” (Totó La Momposina y Sus Tambores cover)
6. “Everything is Everything”
9. “My Balloon”
10. “Six Eight”
13. “Pour Maman”
14. “Keep On Running”
15. “Bombo Fabrika” (Encore)