With the release of Life of Pause, Wild Nothing’s Jack Tatum has honed nostalgic-eyed crystalline dream pop to a fine edge. The music displays its past influences unabashedly in the open, filtering 80’s alternative pop and just a hint of Steve Reich into a pure confectionary indulgence. It’s the music to immerse oneself in, provided one is swaying through the transfixing haze of a quarter life crisis. On this chilled April evening, the audience was content to bathe themselves in the purpled light of adolescent reminiscence.
The band gave heavy focus to their latest full length, which only cemented the album’s cohesiveness. Dotted crowd members rarely had a reason to open their eyes during the entire set, a fact which is testament to the strength of the songs. But the main draw of Wild Nothings narcotizing live appeal is the fullness of their sound. Lush organ resonated like pink clouds through which Tatum’s tremolo dense chords wandered with a slowed pulse. Through the mist, lead guitarist Nathan Goodman lead a path that felt determined but never insistent. The show as a whole was like an act of content wandering, with audience members intent to let the Doug Fir fade away with the goal of getting lost themselves.
I must admit that before the performance I was reasonably unfamiliar with Wild Nothing’s recent work. I was present in cutoffs when “Chinatown” first convened itself as an ethereal summer gem and was impressed with sophomore effort Nocturne able to cement Tatum’s music as “serious band” stuff. Yet riding the bus to Doug Fir Lounge, I was most concerned with getting a whiskey ginger and, hopefully, an appropriately timed Prince cover. I received one of those things in abundance but despite not receiving all I had expected I came out of the show with a halcyon satisfaction. Wild Nothing are utterly committed to creating immersion and it’s the mark of skill to be taken away by a band’s performance despite lack of familiarity. As the band closed with sterling Nocturne opener “Shadow,” I was satisfied to head back into the chilled night, only to wander home after getting satisfyingly lost.