By Casey Liss

I discovered downtempo music thanks to a friend introducing me to Rob Dougan in college. Several years later, a coworker mentioned a band he really liked: Zero 7 (Spotify).

The name meant nothing to me, until I heard their song In the Waiting Line (Apple Music, Spotify, iTunes). I knew it from the movie Garden State, a film which played a very important role in my life. That’s a story for another day.

As with any new thing I enjoy, I binged on Zero 7. Their body of work, while impossibly good, is not vast. Nevertheless, I still have their albums on rotation constantly.

Zero 7, to my ear, is rooted in jazz, but with the instrumentation of modern electronic music and some of the rhythmic feel of funk. Zero 7 at its core is a pair of producers and songwriters; the vocalists they choose to work with are incredible.

One such vocalist is José González. In much the same way I was dumbfounded by the In the Waiting Line connection, I was also gobsmacked by the realization that Zero 7 frequently works with José González as one of their vocalists. Over the last few years, I’ve found myself falling more and more in love with José’s solo work. It wasn’t until I played a Zero 7 track immediately after one of his I made the obvious connection. Unsurprisingly, I love José’s collaborations with Zero 7.

Recently I stumbled on Zero 7’s performance at the Glastonbury Festival in 2004. The entire concert is available on YouTube.

The quality of the recording is not great. It looks to my eye to be sourced from VHS, and some moron in the audience thought blaring a whistle was an appropriate substitute for clapping. Despite that, the quality of Zero 7’s performance is astounding.

I tend to have music on in the house when we’re all just hanging out. I also generally drive short distances, so I rarely listen to podcasts while driving. At home and in the car, Zero 7’s Glastonbury 2004 show has been played constantly.

A few highlights to get you going:

  • Warm Sound kicks everything off aggressively. It ends with vocalist Mozez barely able to contain himself as he belts out the repeated end line.
  • Look Up quickly dives into a great guitar solo, and is finished up by incredible vocals from Tina Dico.
  • Somersault brings modern-day powerhouse Sia on stage. Being this was filmed in 2004, this was before Sia began hiding her face.
  • The Space Between takes a lovely meandering path to a keyboard solo at the end which kills me every time. My favorite selection of the show.

I wish so badly I was in the audience for this set. It must have been absolutely breathtaking. I’d also love to have a better recording of the show, but in my searches this is the only source—audio or video—on the internet. Nevertheless, I’m very thankful I have this much.

The whole set is less than 90 minutes. Paired with a beverage of your choice, it’s a great way to spend an evening.