Wolf Alice are potentially the most exciting band to have emerged in 2015. And yet, it feels like they’ve been around forever, being a buzz band since way back in 2012. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing however, as it means they have been able to fine tune their live show to its peak, and so they are well equipped for the headline tour to support their debut album. Joined at the Institute by Drenge and Made Violent, the night threatened to be the must-see music event of the month. Did it live up to expectations? It definitely did, in leaps and bound.
Opening the night’s proceedings were a band from across the pond known as Made Violent. A largely unknown band to most in attendance, the over-top, comedy based stage banter of the act threatened to derail the performance. However, the songs and attitude shone through and by the end of the set most in attendance were fully behind the garage rock throwback. On the merch stand in the foyer, a shirt emblazoned with the mantra ‘don’t listen to Made Violent’ was on sale; based on the performance on the night, you can bet many in attendance will be direly defying that t-shirt.
Second on the bill were Castleton-raised Drenge, a firm favourite of the current indie rock scene. With a live sound boosted by the addition of Rob Graham on bass, the Drenge of 2015 are leaner and meaner than they have ever been before. A strong contingent of die-hards had made the trip down to see them and soon the crowd was awash with circle pits galore. The biggest hit on the night was definitely ‘We Can Do What We Want’, with the young crowd taking this as a cue to, well, do what they want.
Happily warmed up by the opening duo of acts, the crowd were now ready for the band they had really come to see: Wolf Alice. Usually during rowdy gigs such as this, the front five or six rows are a chaotic mess of flailing arms, gyrating bodies and sweaty hair. However, on this particular night the usually contained moshpit seemed the envelope the whole venue and drag all punters into its unending swarm. The environment was very safe and positive however, with all involved giving their all to their favourite band and having the time of their lives.
Despite having released only one full album along with two EPs, Wolf Alice really seem to have reached the pinnacle of something. The performance did not just feel like another night at the Institute; it felt important. Every single song was vital, with the night truly being all killer, no filler. Take the airing of ‘Blush’ for example. Despite being only two years old, the song feels like an all-time classic, and hearing Ellie Rowsell and co performing it feels like a truly iconic moment.
For those wanting to really get their rocks off, Wolf Alice had plenty in their bag of tricks to keep them satisfied. ‘Your Loves Whore’ was the first pogo-inducing moment, ‘Freazy’ encouraged hip shaking all round and ‘Bros’ induced mass singalongs. A change in pace occurred with the welcome addition of ‘Swallowtail’ to the set, with drummer Joel Amey taking up vocal duties and demonstrating that any attempt to pin this band down is futile.
The main set ended with a stomping rendition of the modern classic ‘Moaning Lisa Smile’, followed by the band’s newest single and soon to be one of their most loved songs: ‘You’re A Germ’. With the quiet-loud-quiet grunge dynamic, vocal screams and countdown before the chorus, the sound is all encompassing and intensely enjoyable. The final song of the encore definitely matched this atmosphere, with ‘Giant Peach’ bringing the night to an end in raucous style.
All in all it was definitely a night to remember, with Made Violent showing they are fully willing and able to compete with the rest of the bill, and Drenge putting on an intense spectacle. The real stars of the night were of course the headliners, with Wolf Alice performing a near flawless set. Are Wolf Alice the best live band around right now? They’re certainly contenders.