Perfect weather, great location and tons of fans: the evening of May 11th had a promising start for the Australian rock act Wolfmother at Vienna’s open air Arena. I arrived only a few minutes before they started their set (the support band I unfortunatley missed beforehand was Electric Citizen).
To be honest, I never really got into Wolfmother that much, but I am aware of who they are and what they do – and have always liked their sound. I was thus very excited to go to this concert without any expectations at all – which is probably the best way possible if you dig the unexpected. You just end up with lots of surprises – good and bad. So here they are.
Restless and energy-driven
First surprise: the band’s tempo and dynamics. Man, they played a set of twenty songs and took but three breaks (one to say hi, one to say thanks, and one before the encore), which lasted only a few seconds each. Which leads me to the next surprise: they hardly said a word to the audience. Apparently, Stockdale is not much of a talker, but it would definitely have been his role to communicate with the fans a bit more. However, the band did not seem as if they did not enjoy themselves on stage – so even though there was no communcation, there was still a lot of energy in the performance. Which is probably what saved them from an angry crowd.
Third surprise: Alex Carapetis is a damn great drummer. In fact, the drums were the only instrument that sounded as they should all the way through the show. The others, from guitar to bass and vocals sounded horrible most of the time. That night’s horrendous sound was yet another surprise for me. I do not know who was responsible for it, but honestly I’d rather not know – it was a real shame. The guitar sounded bad, the bass was too loud at times, whereas bassist Ian Peres‘ backing vocals were hardly audible at all. Well…drums and keyboard were fine, at least.
Monotonous but special
I already mentioned that Wolfmother have a cool sound. The main reason behind that is Andrew Stockdale, who is basically the brain behind this music project. The other musicians are rather professionals hired to play along. Big part of the sound, however, is Stockdale’s special voice, which mostly reminds one of Jack White’s (whose, in turn, reminds one of Robert Plant’s). What I did not know, though – and that’s surprise no. 5 – was that besides its cool and bright timbre it is pretty monotonous, too. I haven’t heard Stockdale sing much more than five notes during that show. It’s not like he tries and fails – the songs are just composed that way, without exciting melodic vocal lines. And they are fine like that, just a bit monotonous after a while.
To summarise all of that, I was most impressed by their efficient way of performing, playing one song after the next without even considering to take a break. This is naturally the most professional way to play a gig and shows that the band is really tight and knows what’s going on. On the other hand, there is not much space left for interaction with the audience or spontaneous improvisation on stage. Still, they played well, and the bad sound was not their fault. So all in all I did enjoy this gig, and I am glad to have seen Wolfmother. They do make cool music that definitely comes from the right source of inspiration and surely motivate tons of young garage rock bands to continue doing their thing, which is exactly what today’s music needs.
Author: Robin Frank