Review: To Live and to Dream, a Night with Wild Nothing

Thick fog blurs your vision leaving only the outline of your body visible below. A strange sense of nostalgia for a foreign time and place is the only thing occupying your mind. Warmth permeates every aspect of your new mystifying reality. Suddenly, a brilliant white light tears you away and your eyes begin to open for what feels like the first time. No, you are not dead, only dreaming. For most, the process of dreaming is done with little thought — a fact of life, that while strange, is ultimately routine. For some though, dreams can be more important that conscience reality itself. Jack Tatum is clearly one of those people. His band, Blacksburg VA’s dream pop outfit Wild Nothing, has made a career leaning on lush orchestrations, entrancing melodies and abstract lyricism to investigate dreams and the other-worldly landscapes that accompany them. For us who braved the cold this past Friday night to catch Tatum and his band play a set at Thalia Hall, we too were offered the opportunity to further examine the inner confines of the psyche’s sleepy surrealism. The night began with a performance from the electro-pop three-piece Men I Trust. The Montreal group’s set was effective in channeling reverie through minimalist synth-funk grooves. Emmanuelle Proulx commanded the stage with her sultry, jazz-inspired vocals, sensually moving the growing crowd with each tune. Bassist Jessy Caron lent their hazy sound a solid backbone, combining to create a dynamic, albeit sleepy, set. While the trio failed to leave a smashing impression, it did serve nicely as the beacon to the dream world that is Wild Nothing. Now with four full-lengths under their belt, Wild Nothing has found its comfort zone somewhere between bubbly ’80 synth pop, darkwave and the high-fidelity sound of more contemporary, hyper-produced indie rock acts like the War on Drugs and DIIV. Friday’s set was a pleasant mix of old — reaching as far back as their storied 2010 debut Gemini— and new material, with an emphasis on the group’s summer 2018 record, Indigo. The transitions between albums felt seamless, pointing to group’s progression as a band — a meticulous honing with adherence to the confines of a relatively strict sonic palette. Thalia Hall proved to be a very fitting venue for the night’s performance. Tatum’s vocals seemed to fill every inch of the interior, reaching all the way to very high, classical style ceiling. Stage lighting was handled expertly well, bathing the band in deep but muted colors, reflecting the changing moods of band’s discography and adding that little extra bit of impact. A highlight of the performance was the inclusion of live saxophone, which breathed some much-appreciated life into mellow stylings. Not to say the music was dull, but because so much of the group’s music tends to soothe, having the sax front and center at points seemed to keep everybody on their toes — the band included. Overall, the performance was very pleasant. Tatum and his band showcased a level of artistry and talent that isn’t all that common within the indie/ dream pop world— proving why year in and year out they continue to remain a leading voice. Yet, I can’t help but find myself already forgetting on some of the performance, after all, even the sweetest of dreams are usually hazy come lunchtime.
Picture of the author
Adam Ramos