Photos by Michelle Geslani. For more shows, check out our photo section
Just when I thought I was one of the very few to want to bow before Wild Nothing
for his ingenious dream-pop debut Gemini
(don't we all just want to coddle new artists and call them ours?), I was proven wrong. Bowery Ballroom was packed for Jack Tatum (the man behind the moniker) and his fellow band. Now I'd seen some really popular acts at said venue in the past, which got me thinking: Is Wild Nothing as "big" as them? Wait, how do we even measure music popularity these days? By the number of MySpace listens? By a song's placement in Gossip Girl?
Wild Nothing is kind of like that underdog that came in and pulled the rug out from under you. Gemini
was released rather quietly, and then all of a sudden it seemed to take over every blogger's ears. I think it's the band and album's modesty. There's something about Wild Nothing that is unpretentious and charming, which really draws listeners in. The songs are tragic and somber, but always marked by a strong and catchy underlying melody. These two characteristics are well-balanced throughout though, in such a way that lyrics, vocals and music all operate on the same level. Nothing is shouting over the other, and the equilibrium works beautifully.
I know, at first, the idea of not belting or emphasizing particular lyrics or choruses may seem strange, but sometimes less is more. And sometimes subtlety does more damage. Take Wild Nothing's lyrics for "Live in Dreams,": "Well our lips won't last forever/ and that's exactly why/ I'd rather live in dreams/ and I'd rather die." Words like those are pretty deep and piercing, but Tatum sort of glides over them and as a result, makes them sound even sadder. Later on in the song, he sings nonchalantly, "I could ask you, are you dead like me?" That line is a heavy one, even if the way its sung doesn't drag your heart down. There's something very Smiths-esque going on here.
Live, the band lived up to this persona. They drifted in out and of dim, colored spotlights, mostly shifting in place, head bowed down or hiding behind a shadow. It was low-key, but poignant. Despite the fact that there weren't any huge earth-shattering moments during the set, I walked away feeling as though I had just been in some sad, cathartic dream. So it's no wonder the band's popularity snuck up on me; their music still does.-michelle geslani
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Pictures: Wild Nothing at Bowery Ballroom
Wild Nothing on Myspace