Wolf Gang, a relatively unknown English indie-pop band, played this past Saturday for an intimate audience at Fitzgerald's. Though the band has yet to make a big impression on American listeners, this summer marks their first big opportunity to do so.
In the next few weeks, they will start touring with Bastille and the two bands, whose sounds are not too dissimilar, are sure to draw comparisons. Wolf Gang, however, still needs to clean up their act. Lead vocalist, Max McElligott, has a falsetto than might best be described as "broken" and requires some urgent polishing before the three songs off their new EP Black River can become hit-worthy.
But at Fitzgerald’s, at least, the crowd was forgiving and very few people seemed to notice. Though quite small, they remained energetic despite oppressive heat, dancing along to their rhythmic sounds and confusing, allusion-heavy lyrics. Between songs, the band members rarely interacted with the audience, which made for some awkward silences that were worsened by the fact that the audience was only a few feet away from them.
Halfway through their set they played their newest single, “Last Bayou,” a crowd-pleasing song inspired by Houston’s own bayous.
“The last time we were touring here, we had this amazing trip through the bayous and I loved it; the expansiveness of the bayous really appealed to me,” McElligott said afterward. “I was thinking a lot while we were driving around and I wrote that song in my head. The grand epic sounds were kind of inspired by the bayou.”
Regardless of the broken falsetto, the heat, and the awkward lack of band-audience interaction, the concert ended too soon for most conert-goers. Their set list, handed out before the concert at the crowd’s bequest, had promised two encore songs while only one, their hit, “Lions in Cages “ made the cut.
The crowd immediately rushed to the meet and greet area although they really didn't need to. The band stayed around far past midnight speaking to fans and signing merchandise, proving that they are, in fact, capable of interacting with crowds on the other side of the Atlantic.
While the band hugged and took a seemingly infinite number of pictures, I spoke with Beau Holland. Holland only joined as the group’s keyboardist in January and was slowly drifting away from the meet and greet area to a corner of Fitzgerald’s, where he stood awkwardly until a group of fans recognized him and left the main crowd to get his autograph. When they left, I swooped in to ask him a few questions.
SP: What emotions do you try to make your audience experience when you play?
BH: I just want them to have a good time. You just make sure that they’re having fun, that we have a good time.”
SP: How would you describe your music?
BH: I think it’s quite like, poppy, like indie, a poppy sort of indie rock.
SP: You’ve played to both British and American audiences so what is the difference between the two?
BH: Both audiences are great. There are slight differences. I think people over here are so friendly. People are friendly in the UK but people are especially friendly over here so its great to play over here.
SP: Since you were not a crucial part of the production of the albums how do you connect with the music?
BH: Max is a piano player so a lot of the songs are quite reliant on the piano and so it’s quite easy for me to get involved and in playing a role in the sound of the band.
SP: How did you join the band?
BH: Just because of friends really. I’m good friends with a guy that knows Gavin (Slater, guitarist) well so he gave them my phone number and he set us up.
Around 11:30, the crowd had finally started dwindling down and McElligott switched places with a band mate to answer questions while signing ticket stubs.
SP: What’s your inspiration for Black River EP?
MM: It’s kind of like a coming of age, kind of reaching a point in your life where you have to face realities. It’s got to do with that. It’s been in my head since the last album was made.
SP: Why did you have your La’Reda remix made?
MM: I just thought it was kind of a fun thing to do. We are all used to one sound. It was fun to sort of branch out and make something a bit different that would maybe appeal to a different sort of crowd.
SP: By the time I finished with McElligott, the fans behind me were huffing in frustration waiting for him to sign their shirts and to answer their questions. A crowd full of fans were still hanging around seemingly intent on never leaving the band.