Show Review: Wild Nothing @ The Mohawk (05/16)

Wild Nothing, or the project of Jack Tatum, is a genre band. What I mean to say is that each of his studio albums explores a different sub genre of indie rock. Gemini saw Tatum trying his hand at jangly guitars and bedroom synths, Nocturne was a 70s disco piece with plenty to dance to. His latest effort, Life of Pause, which came out earlier this year, was a wall-of-sound piece that combined the past genres into a more straightforward rock sound. Going into Monday night, I was interested in seeing how the band would weave these sounds into a their live setting, and I was far from disappointed. Read on after the jump.

Opener was Charlie Hilton, known for her work in Portlands Blouse. She started off the night by playing tracks off of the album she released earlier this year, Palana. The sound was a blend of shoe gaze and indie rock, led by the dreamy vocals of Hilton. While their set was far from bad, I was a little disappointed in the lack of energy that the band brought to their introduction. The crowd was amped for the headliner, sure, but they could have perhaps been swayed into attention by the band had there been a bit more to watch.

After the waiting game between sets, Wild Nothing took the stage to loud cheers, and launched into one of the lead singles from their latest album with To Know You, and everyone seemed to be blown away by how well the heavy sound translated to the pit of the Mohawk. The mix was great, perfect balance of Tatum’s lead vocals with the shimmery guitars and buzzing synths. Second up was title track from Tatum’s sophomore release, Nocturne, which brought the sound to its signature dance-rhythm with cutting guitar riffs and throbbing bass lines. This second song roped in all the older fans of the band and sealed their enthusiasm and attention.

Here was when the evening reached its critical turning point the band started into A Womans Wisdom, and Tatum struggled through a verse, with something visibly not sitting right with him. After trying to continue, Tatum gave up on the song, setting his guitar down and running off stage to talk to a sound guy and then meddle with some gear onstage. While the crowd nervously muttered to each other, the keyboardist leapt up from his perch stage right and apologized, and made the awkward situation funny with his stage banter as Tatum ran around and fixed whatever was going wrong. Following this brief pause, Tatum returned, apologized for being a diva and confessed that the he couldn’t go through with the song sounding awful. They started the track from the top and their error only seemed to increase the audiences enthusiasm and support; this slight break in the fourth wall of performance served as a reminder of the bands humanity; these were humans playing real instruments, not pressing buttons on a laptop.

The set continued from here, with the band focusing heavily on the new material, playing 9 out of the 11 tracks from Life of Pause, 4 tracks from Nocturne, and 2 tracks from Gemini. The encore was a slice from the center of that new album with Japanese Alice leading into title track, Life of Pause, which truly soared in the evening air. The band closed with crowd favorite Shadow, which was a perfect ending to the night. All and all, it was an excellent evening, with the band feeding off the crowds excitement, uttering comments about how this was their favorite crowd of the tour so far. Each member of the band seemed genuinely affected by the way in which Austin had shown up ready to party on a Monday night. The loud cheers and body rolls from the crowd for every song, new and old, was a testament to what I sometimes feel is missing from shows lately in our town: unabashed and genuine enthusiasm for music. Do yourself a favor and take a listen to Life of Pause.

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