Wolf Alice At Amoeba, Monday October 9th 2017
Ellie Rowsell apologized for her voice on Monday night, ‘I had a rough weekend’, she said without saying that her band had played an aggressive set at the Foo Fighters festival in the desert, Cal Jam 17. She nevertheless sounded great and flawless during the short set that Wolf Alice did at Amoeba. And it was really short, only four songs whereas a long line of people had been patiently been waiting outside for more than an hour? May be her weekend had been really rough.
‘Sadboy’ had an haunting and timeless style, that could have come from an ancient English folk melody or a metal tune stripped to the essential, but it was sure a contrast with their Saturday performance! If they rocked out to the fullest at Cal Jam, their acoustic set at Amoeba did almost entirely relay on Rowsell’s intense vocals, as if they were trying to show us a completely different aspect of the band. Sitting down on chairs arranged on stage, they sounded like a cute folk pop band, executing the catchy ‘Space and Time’ and its upbeat Best Coast accents, followed by the delicate and melancholic melody of ‘Bros’, or the eeriness of ‘Don’t Delete the Kisses’ suddenly slipping into almost spoken words of monologues.
At Amoeba, there was nothing left of the fury and screaming I had the chance to witness at Cal Jam, and if they have been described as dream pop meets grunge, all was left was a gentle folksy tone – I put excerpts from both performances below for contrast.
Wolf Alice released their debut album, ‘My Love Is Cool’ in 2015, and almost immediately received a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Performance, were named one of Rolling Stone’s 10 New Artists You Need To Know, performed at major festivals and got opening slots for major acts. And this was just the beginning of an amazing series of prizes and nominations. They have just released their second album ‘Visions Of A Life’, and at this point, they have gained a large audience. ‘This is far more people that I anticipated,’ said guitarist Joff Oddie looking at the full house inside the store.
At Cal Jam, they were all aggression, at Amoeba, it was all about delicious pop and controlled vocal harmonies, despite the fact that they played some of the same songs (‘Don’t Delete the Kisses’, ‘Bros’). There was certainly no abrupt dancing with her guitar for Ellie Rowsell, and all the nuances and exuberances I had witnessed on Saturday, all this flirting with other genres like metal or grunge, were completely gone. All was left was Ellie’s great vocals which stayed on the same sweet range, not showing all the range heard on Saturday, where she could scream like a demon and whisper-sing like a bird. At Amoeba, she was serene and all smile, speaking to the young and adoring crowd around her. I guess I have seen the two faces of Wolf Alice, although I didn’t see enough, I missed part of their set at Cal Jam and 4 songs at Amoeba was a too short set to completely figure them out.
If Rowsell was worried about her voice, she always sounded on point, whether it was her feral scream at Cal Jam during ‘Yuk Foo’, or her sweet lullaby whisper during their in-store. In both cases, she appeared as a charismatic band leader, and even sitting down on a chair at Amoeba, she had a presence able to bring the crowd from an emotional place to a more cathartic one, just in a few seconds.
Space and Time
Don’t Delete the Kisses