We have been here before. Last summer Wild Nothing toured off the hotly tipped début record Gemini and during that tour, played The Captain’s Rest with tonight’s support Silver Caves (then Barn Owl). Though Tatum accompanied by full backing band do feature a couple of new songs, the whole night smacks of familiarity, and as last year’s show was highly enjoyable, there is a lot to live up to.
Silver Caves pick spirits up (or rather dampen them, depending on one’s reaction to such melancholia) with their adeptly executed set. Though the songs may sound glum, there are plenty of enjoyable moments to win the crowds hearts here, with their simple-but-effective indie-pop ditties.
Wild Nothing then. One of the major positives from last year’s show (which given the similar surroundings, is an inevitable comparison point) was that there was a certain energy that stripped these songs from their high production values on record into a straight up, nearing on punk-rock show. This was also partly helped by a fantastic sound that made this re-imagined version of Tatum’s highly studio-heavy tracks come to life. If this sounds like a statement building up to disappointment, then you would be right to assert.
Tonight’s show lacked something from one year ago when the Virginia band wowed the room. My initial concern with this band was that the record was holding the songs back a little bit, but then, I like punk music, so go figure. However last year’s show made me appreciate the record a whole lot more after seeing it live. Here, there just isn’t the same energy or sound that really does these wonderfully constructed pop songs justice.
There are moments where the band gets livelier, either on the new songs or some of the bigger ones from the record such as ‘Chinatown’ or ‘Summer Holiday’ at which the crowd seem more involved in the songs. But there are also long periods of flatness. Songs that sound so great at other junctures lack energy and are played exceptionally quietly.
It is a shame because I was looking forward to re-visiting these guys live with a renewed appreciation of Gemini, which started at last year’s show. Unfortunately, there are only moments that really recapture this. We can only hope that the next time Wild Nothing hit our shores they will come back with new material, refreshed and ready to set the record straight.
Words: Adam Turner-Heffer