Wild Nothing

Photos By: Gabe Gussin

By: Brian Strauss (Foxxpress)

Wild Nothing opened their 2016 Life of Pause tour at the Casbah on 4/20 to the delight of a receptive crowd for a sold-out show.

Show-goers were lined along the outer wall of the Casbah hoping to getting in, many of whom were denied. Opening band Whitney brought nuanced folk-rock and syncopated rhythms to their performance, appropriately covering Bob Dylan, to a positive response from the crowd.

Whitney was a band that felt well-rehearsed. They were in sync with each other and you could feel the anticipation they had for each other’s movements within the songs. The addition of a trumpet was the most noticeable facet of their sound, adding a subtle ambiance to their performance. What could have come across as an antiquated folk-rock band actually felt more like a healthy blend between early 70’s Dylan and more contemporary country acts like Lucero, but without the raspy voices or melancholy lyrical cynicism. There was no shortage of humility with the band expressing their gratitude several times throughout their performance. By the end of their set, Whitney had won over a crowd of Wild Nothing devotees, and rightfully so.

By the time Wild Nothing took to the stage the Casbah had filled to capacity in anticipation of their set. People stood on bar stools in the back hoping to get a better view of the band while Jack Tatum took hold of the microphone, quietly thanking fans for attending before breaking into their set. What followed was a series of lush, atmospheric songs punctuated by the emotive lyricism so exemplary of Wild Nothing.

One of the fascinating aspects of Wild Nothing’s live renditions is the careful attention they pay to their interpretation of the songs. Without the help of a string section that has become fairly prominent in their recorded work, the band plays more into the sound of a subdued rock band, capitalizing on the strength of their melodies rather than being hindered by the absence of certain recorded aspects. During the last song of their set, they counted off and broke into the beginning of arguably their most famous song “Shadow” but it was Tatum’s guitar that failed to be in tune. Tatum, however, kept his humor about him, and laughed while he re-tuned, telling the crowd he’d eaten five-hundred celebratory brownies that morning that were barely beginning to hit him.

While they did not feel as tightly rehearsed as Whitney, they brought a looseness to their playing that helped to elevate the dreamy, atmospheric qualities of their songs. Textural sonic landscapes saturated in reverb and delay, catapulted by a powerful rhythm section characterize Wild Nothing as a live experience.

“We’re really glad we started our tour here in San Diego,” said Tatum to the crowd.

So are we.