REVIEW: Wild Ones bring melody, ‘Mirror Touch’ to Brick and Mortar

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Wild Ones

Wild Ones photographed at DTLA in Los Angeles on May 29, 2018. Courtesy of the band.

SAN FRANCISCO — Portland’s synth-pop superheroes Wild Ones rolled into Brick and Mortar Music Hall Wednesday and delivered on the melodic promise of their most recent album, Mirror Touch. The band is nearing the conclusion of its national tour in support of the album, packing fans into the cozy Mission club following a sold-out show in Los Angeles the night before.

While Mirror Touch delves into deeper and darker lyrical elements of loneliness and isolation, the live show could not be further from that aesthetic. Vocalist Danielle Sullivan was all smiles as she took the stage, bobbing up and down, channeling the groove of the band’s percussive opening song, “Parasthesia.” 

Sullivan’s vocals were effusive and pristine, combining a soft vulnerability with a confident shimmering pop finish. As a frontwoman, Sullivan could very well be pegged somewhere between the mystery of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O with the earnest delivery of Paramore’s Hayley Williams on songs like “Standing in the Back Of Your Show” and “Show Me Islands.” Wild Ones’ strength lies in the on-stage chemistry between Sullivan and guitarist-percussionist and vocalist Nick Vicario. 

Vicario’s melodic styles come from the ‘less is more’ school of guitar playing of The Edge or Tom Morrello. His atmospheric riffing adds a melodic level of layering to the band’s warm and textured sounds. Sullivan and Vicario’s harmonies provided a warm texture that colored Wild Ones’ vibrant performance.

The band’s set was composed with a heavy emphasis on the Mirror Touch, but also included older popular tracks like “Golden Twin” and “Paia,” both of which elicited big reactions from the crowd. Several times Sullivan mentioned Wild Ones’ excitement to be playing not only San Francisco, but Brick and Mortar, which she said was her and Vicario’s favorite club in the city.

The duo ended its set with a bang, quite literally, as it blew out it’s main bass monitor, which could have been a pratfall but the band turned for a dramatic effect.

San Francisco singer-songwriter Mae Powell opened the show with a blend of funny banter, entertaining storytelling and a convincing and vulnerable performance. Her songs ranged from the nostalgic, about past good times with friends, to the trip, about marijunana-induced “weird dreams.” Powell closed with a cover of The Velvet Underground’s “After Hours.”

Another Bay Area band, Marinero, preceded the headliners. Marinero’s washed-out reverb blended with a variety of styles, ranging from ska to dream-pop and rockabilly. The international influences in the band’s chord progressions and dual guitar attack provided an interesting background for the its solid performance.

Follow writer Mike DeWald at Twitter.com/mike_dewald.

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