On this year’s third LP Life of Pause, Wild Nothing expanded its shoegaze with an Eighties haze touching on heavier, funkier rhythms. Jack Tatum’s songwriting likewise expanded with the Virginia quintet’s ambition. Despite such festival-ready sound, their Saturday afternoon set hung on moodier moments from 2012’s Nocturn.
Drawing a decent crowd to the overcast Dragon’s Lair main stage, the band’s Cure-inspired nostalgia set the field swaying despite the lack of energy onstage. After opening with new cut “To Know You,” they settled in behind Nocturn’s title track as Tatum’s vocals pushed high alongside climbing guitar and a keyboard jangle. “Only Heather” and “Disappear Always” burst with pop percussion even as their shoegaze lulled to an easy simmer.
Set against synthy beats and Tatum’s low, monotone, reverbed vocals, the organ intro of “Paradise” began twisting the set into more interesting territory. The band jammed the tune with more bassline funk and jazzier flairs before drifting off into an ambient swirl that bled into new cut “Alien.” “Summer Holiday,” from 2010 debut Gemini, dripped nostalgia in sound and sentiment as the band ran up to and beyond their allotted 45 minutes, pushing over to fit in new dance deluge “TV Queen” and close with crowd favorite “Shadow.”
As Wild Nothing continues its trajectory from bedroom pop to festival beats, the growing pains are evident, but so’s their potential.
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