People say that a week is a long time in music, but even those who truly believe that mantra must question the wisdom of Wild Nothing playing the same stage they inhabited less than 4 months ago having done almost nothing of major importance in the mean time. Last time they took to the stage at The Deaf Institute, though, there was one mitigating factor– their solid, if slightly underwhelming set had to do battle with a crowd who were more interested in have a discussion than actually listening to the music.
This time, a crowd roughly the same size were much more appreciative of the fact a young band were trying to impress them in a city far away from their Virginia roots. Perhaps this sense of engagement stemmed the newfound stage presence and confidence that Jack Tatum, head of the project, seems to have found. The transition from solo bedroom artist to a quartet touring Europe is always going to be a choppy one, but it’s a storm that now appears to have been weathered, the foursome tearing through the meat of debut album Gemini with some authority.
In the flesh, it’s even more apparent how Wild nothing are something more than your standard buzz band, giving the sensation that this work is far from ephemeral. The songs don’t fade in or take time to warm up, they simply jump straight into the core of the song, getting in late and coming out early, snippets and ideas fleshed out into glorious, melodic three minute tracks. There’s a danger that too many of them sound similar, but that doesn’t stop a small group at the front jumping around in time to each track whilst the rest of the crowd smile and sway.
Whether or not Manchester will welcome them back in another four months with such vigour is another matter entirely, but there does seem to be something about Tatum’s work that seems almost timeless – stripped of the much-blogged ‘Cloudbusting’ cover, it’s a set that could’ve been played in any venue in the last 40 years and have got the crowd moving. Dream pop is hardly the most boundary breaking of genres, but there’s still a lot to get excited about with Wild Nothing – especially now they seem to be coming to terms with the stresses and strains of being a successful touring act. The last time that the Deaf Institute begged them for an encore, they shyly hovered near the exit before shiftily making their exit. This time, Tatum smiles, mumbles a few words, picks up his guitar again and storms into one of the band’s customary shoegaze tinged anthems – definite progress.