Wild Nothing Live at Thalia Hall
By: Veronica Karlin
Wild Nothing continued their North American tour with Men I Trust on November 9th at Pilsen’s Thalia Hall. The Montreal-based electro-pop, Men I Trust, started the evening promptly and created a welcoming atmosphere with their relaxed, confident chemistry, and extended that connection to the audience. The group recently released a new single, “Seven,” and they’ve been gaining more traction since their announcement to play at Tyler the Creator’s Camp Flog Gnaw. With ethereal vocals, careful and melodic synth tracks, and warm and smooth guitar chords, each song flowed together, prepping the audience for a great show.
Wild Nothing released their album, Indigo, on August 31st, developing their quintessential bedroom pop sound with a new influence of ‘80s ballads. While lead vocalist and song writer, Jack Tatum, has modernized ‘80s synth beats and bells since their debut album, Gemini (2010) and continued to experiment with the nostalgic rhythms in Empty Estate (2013), the new album reflected the band’s evolution with a more ambitious and theatrical sound. The lo-fi dreamy pop of their older music blended effortlessly with their more vibrant, evolved sound. Tatum’s energy and body language reflected this maturity, leading his band through a confident and cohesive set.
The songs from Indigo effectively gave the update on the band’s sound as promised, with the apparent but not obvious ‘80s influences. “Flawed Translation” as well as “Partners in Motion” were most clearly reminiscent of ‘80s groups like Roxy Music. Other new songs, like “Canyon on Fire” and “Shallow Water” experimented with other instrumental and lyrical motifs of 80s pop, grasping the perfect balance between nostalgia and a fresh vigor. Tatum’s guitar solo during “Letting Go” and the chorus of “Bend,” were evocative of a John Hughes movie soundtrack––full of passion and energy, while remaining grounded with lyrics reflecting raw, relatable emotions.
While the new songs were definitely an update, the older songs in the set were not out of place. Their classics like “Golden Haze” and “Live in Dreams” were more upbeat and featured more synth tracks. Perhaps the most effective way the group bridged the gap between their old and new songs was the addition of a saxophone into the arrangement. Halfway into the show, in “Whenever I” (Life of Pause) and “Paradise,” (Nocturne), the moody saxophone solos mesmerized the crowd. Even though Wild Nothing has evolved over the years, Tatum remained cognizant of the past, dedicating “Summer Holiday” to his friends from college, which he commented, “were around before any of this mattered.” While the band was not the same as when they started as Virginia Tech college students, the set showcased both the band’s history their new direction.
Tatum thanked the audience, exclaiming, “I’m so happy to be here. I love Chicago. I love Thalia Hall, it’s one of the best venues in the country.” Whether it was the development of Tatum and his band, the well thought out set list, the complementary opening act, the engaged and vibrant crowd, or the special place Chicago has in Tatum’s heart––the concert was a success. Tatum tastefully demonstrated how to update a sound, while looking towards the past and embracing its nostalgia.