Review – José González Made Flowers Bloom at Denver Botanic Gardens

Photo courtesy of Jose Gonzalez’s Facebook page.

Darlingside, who opened for José González at the Botanic Gardens on August 10, served a dish of buttery vocal harmonies that melted over the crowd. The four-man folk band centered around a single microphone, mending their varying instruments and vocal strengths into a single sound. The group’s soft voices and moments of harmonious instrumental adventure sounded as if the songs belonged in the soundtrack of a cherished indie movie. Darlingside especially came together during “Blow the House Down.” They combined nostalgic lyrics, layers of various vocals, a chunky guitar rhythm and complicated arrangement of instrumental finesse. It was as if the band was in a pre-game huddle, communicating solely with their instruments about a future victory.

Darlingside. Photo courtesy of Darlingside’s Facebook page.

González, from Gothenburg, Sweden mixes sounds aligned with his Argentinian heritage. He combines folk rock and Spanish guitar sounds to create a genre entirely his own. The Denver Botanic Gardens Summer Concert Series served as the perfect spot for a date night. The elevated stage was surrounded by a grassy hill. Couples spent the evening cuddled on picnic blankets and sipping boxed wine. This sold out show at the Denver Botanic Gardens echoed the equally popular visit by González in 2016.

Jose Gonzalez. Photo courtesy of Jose Gonzalez’s Facebook page.

When González walked on stage, the sun was beginning to set, illuminating the flower petals and tree leaves in the garden. González sat on stage alone with an acoustic guitar. The audience was silent as he tuned his instrument before opening the set with his song “With the Ink of a Ghost.” González’s melancholy vocals were complemented with the energy radiating from his guitar. González somehow created a sound that could have been three instruments in one. The energy created by the guitar elevated the poetic vocals throughout the night.

The venue, though intertwined peacefully with flowers, trees and green grass, failed to provide a fair view for the audience. Because the stage was surrounded by people seated in the grass, half the audience was forced to sit behind the stage, viewing the backs of the artists the entire evening. Without any noticeable mic feedback or imbalances, the sound was seemingly flawless. With this in mind, those without a great view still enjoyed an evening of gorgeous music.

Jose Gonzalez. Photo courtesy of Jose Gonzalez’s Facebook page.

González remained reserved throughout the night. He sipped his glass and whispered a humble “thank you” between songs. He played a few songs from his band, Junip, including “Line of Fire.” Some audience members stood in the front of the stage, clapping and swaying with the music.

The performance came alive during the three-song encore. González started with “Leap off / The Cave.” Some of the crowd started leaving, but those who stayed got a special treat as Gonzalez played a cover of “Blackbird” by The Beatles. The artist’s vocals give the song a late-night coffee shop feel and the audience cheered when the artist paused to whistle in the middle of the cover. The night ended on the sweet notes of González’s wildly popular cover of “Heartbeats” by The Knife. Whispers of the audience singing along accompanied the artist’s interpretation of the music. It is known that plants grow faster when music plays and the rich harmonies from Darlingside followed by González’s poetic acoustics had the Botanic Garden overgrown with both vegetation and the crowd’s appreciation.

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