Live Review: Wild Nothing

13 March 2013 | 5:13 pm | Stephanie Liew

“This is our last song, then we’re gonna get out of this hellish situation,” says Tatum, before clarifying, “only weather-wise! Spirit-wise it’s been awesome.”

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As soon as Wild Nothing (aka Jack Tatum) and his four live members launch into opener Shadow, the first song off latest album Nocturne, everyone in the small, sticky bandroom is enamoured. Kevin Knight provides the foundation with a string-like synth riff that cuts through the hot, damp air. Although a lot of the subtleties that make their records great aren't able to be replicated, some things are more effective live; the forceful dive back into the main riff after the reserved bridge, for example.

Their simple stage presence – nodding heads, tapping feet, a shake of the shoulders – does not make them any less interesting to watch, and their banter is laidback and natural. “I feel like someone dipped my guitar in butter,” says Tatum. Sweat drips down from the guitarists' wrists onto their instruments. The rest of us can empathise, as we move in close proximity, knocking each other's slippery elbows.

Band and audience's discomfort is set aside, though, as Wild Nothing deliver songs across their romantic dream-pop repertoire. Mostly based off single dominant riffs, their songs shine during moments: the quietly assuring three-part harmony and Jeremiah Johnson's dance drum beat in Counting Days; Tatum and Nathan Goodman's duetting guitars in Golden Haze; the swirling intro of Only Heather; Tatum crooning, “Ooh, you can have me, you can have me all”, as the guitar ticks upwards in Nocturne.

After two bars of the dancey Paradise, they stop because bassist Jeff Haley hasn't come in. Tatum explains, “Jeff unplugged his bass; how embarrassing for Jeff,” and Haley looks sheepish. Take two transforms the Tote into a disco: Johnson's combined deep drum fill and electronic beats thudding along with Haley's thick bass, Tatum's magnetic vocals, the hum of the synth and gathering feedback resulting in arguably the highlight of the night. 

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“This is our last song, then we're gonna get out of this hellish situation,” says Tatum, before clarifying, “only weather-wise! Spirit-wise it's been awesome.” As they finish with The Blue Dress, Tatum asks if we want some water and empties a bottle on the crowd. They can't leave the stage fast enough after their final applause, heading straight outside to the beer garden, but reward those who stick around in the sauna-like room by returning to play The Go-Betweens' Head Full Of Steam.