by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
We see bands on their upward trajectory; we see them when they’ve reached their apex and we see them headed downward in a steep dive with the rocks coming up fast from below.
Last night Wolf Alice was a band headed skyward. They were high enough where you could still see the engines clearly without binoculars, before the second-stage rockets kick in and take them above the blue sky, a band on the rise. Maybe they’re the next Garbage or Cranberries or, if they’re lucky, the first Wolf Alice marking their own territory as they go.
The four-piece took The Waiting Room stage at around 10 p.m. and proceeded to rip through most (if not all) of the tracks off their 2015 breakthrough album My Love Is Cool (Dirty Hit/Sony) starting with “Your Loves Whore” with its sensuous, perfect breaks, and ending with a three-song encore kicked off with album opener “Turn to Dust.” In between, the band played 75 minutes of perfect, tuneful indie rock that sounded more than a little influenced by some of my favorite bands from the ’90s, updated with modern grit and a vintage snarl by way of bass player Theo Ellis, who was the life of the party.
In fact it was bleach-blond Ellis that kept things visually interesting on stage. While the rest of the band focused on their respective parts, Ellis played the Brit madman, leading the clapping, pointing out cell phone users, applauding spectators who danced/pogo-ed in the pit. Meanwhile. frontwoman Ellie Rowsell did her thing with reserved panache, eventually getting into it enough to toss her guitar to the stage and walk into the outreached hands of the crowd during the encore.
The band’s secret weapons were guitarist Joff Oddie, who forced your attention with quickfire fretboard gymnastics, and drummer Joel Amey, whose siren voice was the perfect harmony throughout and the perfect lead for dreamy setpiece ‘Swallowtail.”
If there’s a nit to be picked it’s that Wolf Alice could use a bit more stage theatrics, though it’s hard not to get sucked into their set once they get on a roll, which they did last night in front of a packed-though-not-sold-out crowd populated by a surprisingly older audience (I wasn’t the oldest one there, for a change).
The next time you see them live likely will be at a festival somewhere, or in a much larger venue. Wolf Alice is still headed skyward. To what heights they’ll climb, well, we’ll just have to wait and see.
Opener Slaves (UK, I assume a necessity due to the fact that there’s a U.S. version of Slaves) kicked off the night with a very British sounding set of rough-hewn rock, like listening to a rage-filled Mike Skinner (The Streets) voxed against power chord riffs instead of hip-hop beats. Slaves is a duo featuring drummer/vocalist Isaac Holman yelling more than singing while guitarist Laurie Vincent wailed away on his ax. Sort of punk, but not quite.
Between songs Holman told stories and painted pictures of life in the UK, describing the dreadful riders on public transport who look upset about their dreary careers. “If you don’t like your job, mate, do something else,” he sneered before the duo ripped into “Cheer Up London.” By set’s end, Holman asked everyone to hug the person standing next to them, and then berated those who were too cool to follow his orders.
Sidenote: I appreciate the fact that One Percent Productions is limiting some of its shows to just two bands, especially during the week. Those of us who have regular day jobs enjoy getting home by midnight (11:30 last night), allowing us to function coherently the following morning.
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Record Store Day 2016 is this Saturday and the shops are getting ready for the annual onslaught. Yesterday Homer’s outlined their plans, which will include lots of exclusives. According to their press release:
“Among the limited edition music releases being unveiled for Record Store Day 2016 are titles by David Bowie, Deftones, Alt-J, Cheap Trick, The Doors, Johnny Cash, Joan Jett, The Talking Heads and Twenty-One Pilots.
“Nebraska native and current Omaha resident Matthew Sweet will be releasing Goodfriend, featuring alternate takes of his iconic 1991 album Girlfriend. Omaha native Adam DeVine will also release his comedy rap album by the Wizards, which features DeVine and the other two members of the Workaholics’ TV show cast.”
BTW, Metallica is 2016’s Record Store Day Ambassador, which seems odd when you consider only a few years ago the only bands still supporting vinyl were indies and not major-label monsters. Looks like the monsters won again.
While Homer’s doors open at 10 a.m., the line generally forms at around dawn. Homer’s will be serving coffee and donuts to line-sitters starting at 8 a.m. Psychobilly rock trio The Rev. Horton Heat will be on hand at 4 p.m. for a meet-and-greet and autograph-signing session to celebrate the band’s RSD single, “Hardscrabble Woman.”
It’s probably a good idea to go to http://www.recordstoreday.com/SpecialReleases to see what may be available at Homer’s as well as the other RSD participants including Almost Music and Drastic Plastic.
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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.