My friend talked me into seeing one of his favorite bands that has been quickly developing a large following. We braved through the sea of teenagers and found a prime viewing spot. The crowd is usually half our age. Tonight I noticed most of the audience was one third our age. There are advantages: 1) The beer line is a lot shorter. 2) I can see over their heads. 3) Immediate respect since they think I am one of the band members’ father.
Wolf Alice formed in North London six years ago and are rapidly becoming the new face of alternative music. The four piece band is named after a 1979 short story by feminist fantasy writer Angela Carter (by the way she is my favorite feminist fantasy writer). Last year, they played the 150 capacity Lost Lake Lounge. On Thursday, they sold out the 550 capacity Bluebird Theater. Singer and guitarist Ellie Rowsell took the stage dressed in a black top, ripped jeans, and black Doc Martin Boots. She lead the band though songs ranging from “You’re A Germ” (an infectious grundge rock anthem) to “Bros” (a sweet song about childhood friendship). The lads and lasses in the front of the stage knew every song and sang along with Rowsell through the night.
|Ellie Rowsell and Birthday Boy Theo Ellis|
In the shadows on the side of the stage, Joff Oddlie created the atmospheric sounds that hold the songs together armed with a guitar, keyboard, and computer. One of the most surprising moments of the night was when drummer Joel Armey sang the lead for the somber song “Swallowtail.” His voice blended in with the band’s distinct sound almost as well as Rowsell’s. Sporting red Doc Martin Boots and shocking bleach blonde hair, bass player Theo Ellis was definitely the rocker of the group. He swinged his bass around while bobbing along to the crashing beat. Keeping the stereotype of the United Kingdom alive, Ellis drank Guinness throughout the evening. He might of been extra excited that night because it was his birthday. Before their final song Moaning Lisa Smile, a roadie brought out an x-rated Voodoo Doughnut while the crowd sang “Happy Birthday. ” Ellis ate it straight out of the box to the crowd’s delight. Before leaving the stage, Ellie Rowsell took her guitar pick and placed it in the palm of a purple haired teenager. She closed his hand gently and smiled making him a fan for life.
Slaves from Kent, England opened the show with only a bass guitar and a stand up drum kit. The duo entertained the young crowd instantly with their punk attitude and English charm. Isaac Holman had the difficult task of singing while playing the drums. I can only think of Don Henly, Phil Collins, and the guy from Night Ranger who have pulled that off. But Holman surpassed all of them by dancing at the same time. Laurie Vincent switched over to guitar after the opening song and Holman lost his shirt faster than Iggy Pop or Dave Navarro (that devil looking guy from Jane’s Addiction). Their song “Where’s Your Car Debbie” described a frightening trek to find a friend’s car in the middle of the night with a hilarious chorus. Isaac Holman described their song “Cheer Up London” as a plea for people to make life better not worse for your fellow humans. At that moment, he asked the crowd to hug each other. My friend and I stood there observing the youngsters hugging it out. That’s when we got called out by the guitar player as….. non huggers. Since the spotlight was on us, my friend and I embraced resulting in cheers. After the forced hug (I still feel a little violated), Holman transformed song introductions into lyrics of the next song. It was a clever way into pulling the crowd into the music before it even started.
Thursday gave me hope that young people still like good music. Electronic Dance Music and Pop Country might still be popular, but you can never underestimate the appeal of Rock.
See you at the next show. I’ll be the one not hugging it out.