When Wild Beasts came to New York City last fall, they found themselves in the pressured position of having a lot to prove. They’d made only one US trek beforehand, to SXSW. Members of the press came out in droves to hear and see the UK foursome, now on their second album, Two Dancers, which had been graced with Pitchfork’s coveted “Best New Music” designation. The Beasts didn’t crack under the pressure, they roared, seducing all ears and eyes in their path. Closing out their first full US tour in Brooklyn, the Wild Beasts were relaxed and giddy, coming off what must’ve been a successful run of dates.
It helped, no doubt, that the crowd was rapturous and vocal in their support. “You guys are great and we’ve hardly even started,” Tom said after the second song, “We Still Got the Taste Dancing on Our Tongues.” One guy jumped up on stage during the boisterous “Brave Bulging Buoyant Clairvoyants” to join the band in their singing and dancing.
And do they ever dance! None of this “sullen,” “tortured” act that too many artists try to use as an excuse for behaving as though they don’t enjoy their own music. Wild Beasts enjoy what they do, and they show it – jumping and swaying and shaking their bodies, and pumping their fists. They may have tried to hold back their smiles, but their cheeks puffed up with pride, belying their grins.
The crowd was dancing, too – it was hard not to. Their recordings are beautifully coated in vocals, and keys, and guitar, but their live shows draw out their rhythms, turning even the most atmospheric and moody tracks (“Two Dancers I,” “Two Dancers II”) into a dare not to move your body. But the beauty is all still there, in the fluttering notes of “Empty Nest,” in Hayden Thorpe’s operatic falsetto and erotic growls, in the opening line of “His Grinning Skull,” “How can you pine anymore?” Always a Wild Beasts talking point, but impossible to ignore, the contrast of Thorpe’s icy countertenor with Tom Fleming’s warm, robust lower register commune like the sweet and the salty, enhancing each other, complementing each other, and competing with each other, all at once.
Wild Beasts, “His Grinning Skull” (download)
Before closing with “Cheerio Chaps, Cheerio Goodbye,” Thorpe commented, “Thank you, this is incredible. This is the cherry on a very handsome cake.” It made for a sweet evening, indeed.
Fun & Powder Plot
We Still Got The Taste Dancin’ On Our Tongues
Vigil For A Fuddy Duddy
This Is Our Lot
Two Dancers I
His Grinning Skull
Two Dancers II
Brave Bulging Buoyant Clairvoyants
All The King’s Men
Hooting & Howling
Encore: Devil’s Crayon
Cheerio Chaps, Cheerio Goodbye