words: Megan Henderson // photos: Sarah Rix (@sarahrix)
“… Wolf Alice squash enough genres into their 80-minute set to last a musical lifetime.”
Tonight at the Corner Hotel, it’s girls to the front.
Entering the band room, I’m greeted by the unmistakable voice of WAAX front woman, Marie DeVita and the room is already just about at capacity.
Hailing from Brisbane, and supporting Wolf Alice throughout their entire Australian tour, WAAX deliver a powerful set that just demands to be heard. Recent single “Labrador”, as well as 2017 favourite “Same Same” prove to be particular hits in their short and sweet 30 minute set.
Taking an early set time, Wolf Alice hits the stage at 9 pm following an atmospheric and suspenseful instrumental that has the crowd trying to decipher which song they’ll open with. Fresh after winning the Mercury Prize for their 2017 album Visions of a Life, the British four-piece remain as humble as they’ve always been, and in fact don’t even mention the honour they’ve just won. Front woman, Ellie Rowsell sports a shy demeanour that immediately vanishes as soon as she launches into song, transforming into a the most savage rocker reminiscent of a 1990’s Courtney Love.
The set list seamlessly weaves between their two albums – a perfect display of their genre bending style. Sliding from loud and heavy tracks such as “Yuk Foo” and “You’re A Germ”, to softer, delicate tracks like “Don’t Delete The Kisses”, Wolf Alice squash enough genres into their 80-minute set to last a musical lifetime. Unfortunately, old favourite “Freazy” doesn’t make the cut, but they more than make up for it by playing at least 18 tracks with an encore.
Taking breaks only to change instruments and have a drink, the only other time the band stops playing is to have a quick FaceTime chat with a fan in the crowd who’s on a video call with a friend all the way from England. Despite the communication difficulty (considering they’re in the middle of a sold out 800 man room), it’s a sweet and funny interaction that proves Wolf Alice won’t be losing their humility any time soon.
Rowsell’s vocal ability throughout the evening is absolutely outstanding, which can already be determined by listening to Wolf Alice recordings. But to hear her voice live is a whole other experience. Using interchangeable microphones on stage to accentuate specific vocal sounds, it’s a gift to one’s eardrums to hear how she can take her voice from soft and delicate to full on classic rock screaming in a matter of seconds.
Particular highlights include Rowsell getting up close and personal with the crowd for “Formidable Cool”, where she performed the entire song standing on the barricade with the support of crowd members holding her up. It’s moments like these that make a show stand out, as the artist breaks the invisible barrier between themselves and the audience to create the feeling that they’re sharing an intimate moment with the crowd, rather than simply performing to them. From watching countless videos of Wolf Alice sets from shows around the world, this is something she does at most of the shows, so it’s humbling to see she still gets about and interacts with the crowd in this way.
After being on tour for most of this year, and having already performed a run of shows for Laneway festival in Australia this year, it’s almost time Wolf Alice head back home to take a well-deserved break. I certainly hope it won’t be long before we get a taste of what’s to come for them, and I don’t doubt it’ll be equally – if not more – diverse as their most recent work.