Last night was the Wild Nothing show, and I’m still living in the stage-lit, crowded, dream pop incandescence of what I heard. Wild Nothing transports you, sparking just a hint of heartbreaking nostalgia for those who grew up in the 80s, causing unexplained bouts of eyes-closed, wide-smiled, arm-flailed dancing, and instilling in anyone who kept a diary during adolescence the terrorizing desire to find it, unlock it and keep writing.
Jack Tatum’s the dude in charge (he writes and plays all of the music on Gemini), but for tours, he has formed a band of more dudes, all with earth-shattering jaw lines and a sartorial look so cohesive it just can’t be planned. Hailing from Virginia and areas nearby, the well denimed band aren’t stereotypically nice southern boys; they’re just nice. And no-nonsense. Rarely speaking to the crowd except to smile and say thank you, Tatum’s is a presence that radiates because of his quiet stage demeanor. He just wants to play the next song. And the audience wants to hear it. Despite Cargo’s unmemorable-ness*, the band projects an inclusive coziness. It’s not weird, I promise. It is precisely Wild Nothing’s bashfulness and sneaky smiles that makes you like them more. But don’t get me wrong; they are not wallflowers, and they don’t hold back.
With high ticket prices and supporting acts that are a struggle to get through, live shows can be more pain than pleasure. Wild Nothing makes up for any bad show you’ve been to lately. The band are as tight as Tatum’s album but don’t play to those exacts. Instead, their live sound is an imaginative extension of Gemini; an artwork in its own right. “The Witching Hour” took the driving force from Gemini and accelerated. Despite the cold he claims he’s getting, Tatum jumped effortlessly between ranges, hitting a surprise landing an octave higher than the recorded chorus of “Live in Dreams.” “My Angel Lonely” was still angsty and achey, but last night it was filled with the band’s collective push, forcing you to do more than listen.
At the live show, Gemini transcends its place as a sleepy bedroom album; it is infused with both kinetic energy and the feeling that time has stopped. I have no idea how long Wild Nothing played. No one, though, was ready for them to go. Thankfully, they said another sweet "thank you," and played an encore: "I hope this isn't too obvious," said Tatum (his only semi-joke of the night), before breaking into a short but strategically placed "Bored Games."
On the first week of many that has changed to winter, Wild Nothing envelopes you with a longing for summer days, but leaves you happily wrapped up enough to make it home on a cold November night.
*In terms of ambience, Cargo is a run-of-the-mill venue. Situated in a nook of East London, it can afford to sell bad food, sell cans of beer at 4 pounds a pop and play music way, way too loud because of most of the excellent acts that play in the backroom. Cargo isn’t a memorable place. I struggle to find words to describe its interior. It lacks personality. But the seating near the bar and in the lounges is ample, comfortable and leathered. Even on nights as moody as yesterday, the back garden, despite its size, is cozied-up with yellowy-glowy lighting and couples snuggled close together on benches, sipping indecipherable cocktails, striking matches, sharing cigarettes, wearing cute fuzzy fingerless gloves.