When all’s said and done, there’s nothing better than going to a rock show.
Coming off of a Grammy nomination for their track “Moaning Lisa Smile” and winning the 2018 Mercury Prize, it goes without saying that Wolf Alice is a powerful force in alternative rock. Their current US tour comes as support for their latest record, Blue Weekend, an eleven-track powerhouse of an album filled to the brim with masterful songwriting, grunge-y riffs, and punching vocals. More than halfway through an almost completely sold-out national tour, the four-piece band featuring lead vocalist and guitarist Ellie Rowsell, guitarist Joff Oddie, bassist Theo Ellis, and drummer Joel Amey took the stage in front of a packed crowd at Paradise Rock Club in Boston, MA.
The show kicked off with a set from Bria, a new project from the talents of Bria Salmena and Duncan Hay Jennings of FRIGS (as well as Orville Peck’s touring band). While the set itself was relatively laid-back and reflective, Bria wasted no time in showing the packed audience exactly who they are. Their set was primarily focused on their newest release, Cuntry Covers Vol. 1, a selection of cover songs from classic singers and songwriters that Bria have re-worked to fit their own gentle and hazy style. The dreamy, lingering guitar melodies and leisurely southern twang of Salmena’s vocals had the audience swaying at ease from start to finish.
I feel like it’s an understatement to say Wolf Alice puts on a great live show. Even before the show had begun, a handful of audience members assured me that I was in for an amazing set. Squished up and comfortably lost in the crowd, I watched Wolf Alice take the stage, embraced by an astounding roar from the crowd around me. The group immediately brought out the big guns, opening their set with the thundering bass, classic rock guitar, and airy choruses of “Smile”, and keeping that unrelenting energy throughout the night. The more traditionally alternative rock tracks melted into occasional breaks for more chilled, reflected vocals and instrumentation in deeper songs like “Lipstick on the Glass” and “Delicious Things”.
Their set melded two halves of the group’s back catalog, bringing more tame indie-pop to break up the frenetic rock tracks filled with unmistakable basslines and cutting vocals. Songs like “Safe From Heartbreak (If I Never Fall in Love)” had the crowd enraptured and singing the chorus back to them, while “Play the Greatest Hits” and “Giant Peach” gave me all the old-school grunge I could want with echoing vocals and hard rock instrumentals. It’s safe to say the set was packed with crowd pleasers as well, with songs like “How Can I Make It Okay”, “Bros”, and “The Last Man on Earth” sprinkled throughout. Though I really hate to be that person, they’re somehow even better live than I could have expected.
All in all, Wolf Alice proved that they are a force to be reckoned with in rock and roll. Sentimental lyrics and an effortless cool combine to create the undeniable magnetism Wolf Alice has on stage. After witnessing their live performance, I can say with confidence that Wolf Alice is the next big thing in indie alternative; their trip across the pond has opened a door into the dynamic and energetic future of the genre, and the only way to go is up.