Review: Wolf Alice & Drenge
The tectonic plates within once set-in-stone genres are shifting – gone are the days of pure pop, rock, rap and electro; in are the days of bands not easily categorised in one sentence.
Whilst it would be patronising and quite offensive to praise Wolf Alice purely on the basis of showcasing a (very) talented ‘female’ lead, the truth is that Ellie Roswell is becoming a cultural icon for a host of charged-up and angst-ridden girls on a mission to cease their gender’s glaring underrepresentation at gigs and festivals.
Significantly this was an – often golden glitter paint smeared, ‘My Love Is Cool’ inspired – female dominated audience. Perhaps if the North London outfit had been fronted by your typical denim-digging scruffy haired indie-lad, then maybe (just maybe) their exponential rise may not have been quite so stratospheric. Nevertheless, the group’s musical prowess is unquestionable.
Tuesday evening’s set was as note-by-note tight as it was raucous. Igniting the fire were raw-grunge specialists Drenge, whose spikey guitar filth caused anarchy in the front half of the crowd – something rarely so easily achieved by a support act.
Setting Wolf Alice apart from, say, fellow vintage-rock revivalists Palma Violets, Deap Valley and even Drenge, is not the searing scuzz-smudged riffs, nor is it Roswell’s seemingly effortless and highly reverberated howls. The cutting-edge distinction relates to an intelligent, but far from pretentious form of dynamism.
Although happily married to 90s garage and alternative rock, Wolf Alice flirted with folk, grunge and indie-pop – throw in a sprinkling of krautrock too. Remaining evocative throughout, the four-piece produced pace that ranged from the blistering in ‘Lisbon’ and ‘Moaning Lisa Smile’ to the sparse and measured encore respites ‘Blush’ and ‘Turn To Dust’ – tracks closer to the likes of Warpaint and The XX than The Pixies and Nirvana.
Just one album in and now much more than a buzz name – grasp any opportunity to see this modestly exuberant bunch.