Wild Nothing


Wild Nothing are a group hellbent on melting my insides via extreme doses of summertime nostalgia and as they step onto the stage, I anticipate an epic singalong where only I will be vocal. That’s right, the dickhead in the Carhartt with his arms in the air all night is me, what you gonna do abar it!?

Before all that though, a fella called J Fernandez. Later that night I was politely informed by a Louis Theroux lookalike in a greasy takeaway on Oxford Road that I looked like him. Yeah, that’s right, a pasty scouser with shit hair looks like an American indie savage, donning a yellow beanie, with clear exotic ancestry – that pizza they were scranning must have been off.

Anyway, I haven’t a clue what the songs are called but what I can say is that he’s a rather cool dude with some lovely pop choons. Almost post-jangle, this form of “bedroom pop” isn’t a million miles away from Wild Nothing’s sound and has certainly gaged my interest. On further investigation, Fernandez definitely has some decent songwriting chops on a potential similar level to Boy Pablo or Clairo; something seeped in depressive sunshine and most definitely indie with a capital “I”.

The main event however in the form of US dream weavers Wild Nothing, fronted by the extremely talented and lovely Jack Tatum, take to the stage and in stoic wisdom begin with ‘Nocturne’. The title track from their 2012 masterpiece of the same name, it’s one of my favourite songs of all time and every time I hear it it transports me back to that 60 bus ride home from school, during the spring and summer months. Back in Liverpool, I live by Sefton Park and it’s there where I fully started to appreciate the sound of that album.

Once off the bus I would wander down Linnett Lane, gaze upon the old Victorian houses doused in all sorts of blossom and summer fray. During this, the wonderful synth lines and guitar chimes of ‘Nocturne’ are stirring a sense of wonder and excitement for the incoming days of sunshine and sporadic clouds, with the added bonus of not having to do very much at all for a while.

It sounds like pure cheddar cheese wrapped in a mozzarella bow, but that whole album just reminds me of friends, family and home. After the rendition was over, I was applauding like I’d just seen someone give birth; very excited and at the same time disturbed how a fellow human being can produce something so beautiful.

I’m sorry for the hyperbole, and lax use of correct tense, however these boys get me jazzed in a way many others do not. Proceeding to play my favourite song off the new album Indigo (2018) straight away, that got me even more psyched. ‘Wheel of Misfortune’ is an exquisite song with a glorious piano/synth lead and gorgeous sounding lyrics to make any student poet’s heart bleed:

“What awaits behind that door/Some new brand of heartache 2.0/Rave reviews the world’s gone mad/Starring self doubt as your right hand man/Blown a kiss oh blown a bubble/Chewing gum stuck to Verona.”

It’s incredible. The band then continue to play classic after classic from works such as Gemini (2010) and the criminally short EP, Empty Estate (2013). YES seems to be the perfect venue for a band like this, soaked in pink and long and narrow, it’s definitely impressed me more than when I saw Boy Azooga here. For whatever reason that night the sound was terrible, alas that must have been a small hiccup because tonight the sound is on point.

Of course live music can always be more like the record, however the versions of album tracks like ‘Summer Holiday’ and ‘Whenever I’ in particular do seem to resonate more in an immediate setting. Tatum switches to keys for the latter, with his nameless saxophonist playing some spine-tingling notes which carry the song beautifully. It’s a packed house tonight and I’m stood next to Chew Magna frontman Laurie Hulme, who also expresses experiences of being a young man, and wishing he was discovering Gemini for the first time. I wish I could discover Nocturne again and tonight’s set really emphasises the power of Tatum’s back catalogue.

Wild Nothing are an eclectic project and offer songs of varying tones, tempos and moods. On one hand you have ‘Shallow Water’ – which is met by myself again with an excitement akin to a raving church-goer convinced they’re in front of God – with its ballad DNA and epic harmonies. Then you have ‘Canyon on Fire’, a song with a riff that comes straight out of the 80s movie montage handbook. Tonight’s selection of songs seem to follow a formula – soft and gentle, groove and soothe. There’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that I don’t want this show to end and would want to hear EVERYTHING, twice over! Sadly though, even the greatest things must come to an end.

Overall, it’s a great mix of songs and a nicely balanced set which has the majority inside oscillating gently. It certainly has me in rapture and I can’t wait to catch them again. Shame they won’t be playing Liverpool where I caught them the first time but hey ho, tonight’s hour and a half of sugarslicked, velvety groove music will have to suffice.

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Liverpool born music writer with passion for punk and Everton FC