When you look up at Wolf Alice, there are a few things that come to mind. a) these guys are pretty fucking cool, and b) they are a bit too cool, as in I’m not sure I’d quite make the cut in their hot list. They’re the latest female fronted band to win the hearts and minds of Camdenites and NME readers (like myself) with their grungy noise rock and clear cut edgy vocals.
Their gig upstairs in the O2 Academy Oxford is loud, energetic and compelling, but their limited repertoire means they can only play for about 40 minutes before running out of material. It’s just as well though; they’re on the cusp of becoming dull at around the 25 minute mark given the samey nature of their guitar thrashing tracks. Admittedly it’s entertaining, but there’s only so much attitude wailing one can take on a Tuesday night.
But Wolf Alice are also at the hands of some pretty shitty audience members. When frontwoman Ellie Rowsell finally seems purposefully and successfully in her element, she’s moved away from the hard stuff to the melancholic tones of ‘Blush’, effortlessly mashed and leading into a cover of ‘Wicked Game’ by Chris Isaak. It’s hypnotically beautiful, a crystal oasis in the barrage of noise and moshing from the rest of the gig. Unfortunately it’s not enough to discourage some twats from loudly declaring their love for Rowsell from the audience pit, and repeatedly feeling the need to shout the affirmative “YES!” (for whatever reason.)
But aside from some of the audience, there’s still something missing from the band’s performance. They need more cohesion, to be more mentally in tune with each other, rather than just sonically. I see four musicians in different head spaces, not collaborators. When drummer Joel Amey is slamming his instrument, the others look bored. But this is only the beginning of the career for the band, so there’s plenty of scope to see this tour as an opportunity to find their zen. Oh, and more from wherever ‘Blush’ came from please.
Read our interview with Wolf Alice in this week’s Cherwell, out May 23rd.