The weather outside D.C.’s Rock & Roll Hotel may have been gloomy the night of Sept. 30, but inside the mood was electric. The Low Tides Tour featuring This Wild Life and openers Have Mercy and Movements was set to begin, and the crowd buzzed in anticipation.
Some members of the flannel-clad, multi-colored hair-sporting audience had been waiting in line for hours prior to the show. Some even waited years to see the band, like 17-year-old Hannah Orndorff.
“I’ve been listening to them for two and a half years, and I’ve waited two years to see them.”
“I saw them at Warped Tour,” Lyndsay Mikaluskas, 19, said. “They’re … emotional.”
Emotional could’ve described the sound of any band playing that night, not just This Wild Life. The first openers, the band Movements from Orange County, California, played a short, rousing set of their most popular hardcore-tinged pop-punk songs, and though most people in the crowd weren’t originally here to see them, a couple die-hard fans sprinkled throughout knew the words and sang back passionately.
“I love the personal feeling you get with the crowd at the smaller venues,” said Movement’s bassist Austin Cressey after the show. That personal connection between artist and audience, especially at a rock show, is like nothing else in this world.
Have Mercy played next, again fostering that emotional connection with the crowd with their traditional pop-punk style. A mosh pit broke out during one song in particular, “Let’s Talk About Your Hair,” and continued until the end of their set. Crowd surfers got passed to the front as well, and even jumped onto the stage–just to dive back into the crowd. Have Mercy took it in stride, though, and played on unfazed.
During Movements and Have Mercy, the energy in the room was almost as high as the decibel level, but it certainly didn’t die during This Wild Life’s quieter set. With their unique brand of heartfelt, acoustic pop, they changed the mood of the audience but not the spirit.
The band, a duo comprised of Kevin Jordan on vocals and guitar and Anthony Del Grosso on lead guitar, kicked off their set with the single “Riptide” from their new record. Though the record, Low Tides, was just released on Sept. 9, fans could already sing it word for word.
Other songs from the album weren’t met with the same reaction, though; the crowd instead looked on in quiet appreciation. However, when they played old favorites, like the songs “Ripped Away” and “History”, the audience erupted in cheers.
Jordan often gave a bit of backstory to the songs before he and Del Grosso began playing them. He described how he wrote “No More Bad Days” for his mother as she underwent chemotherapy, and how “Pink Tie” was written about his estranged father. It was clear that these songs resonated with many audience members, and the band’s performance of them was an emotional high point of the night.
The band departed the stage after two more tracks from their new album, but returned for an encore after the crowd cried the traditional “one more song!” chant. Del Grosso traded his guitar for a drum set during one of the songs they closed with, “Concrete”, and the night ended–literally and figuratively–with a bang.
“It would’ve been really easy to put out ‘Clouded 2’” Jordan candidly said after the show. He’s referring to the band’s previous album, “Clouded”, and how they took strides to branch out from their old sound with their newest release. “We took a lot of chances artistically and I think, for me, it’s a huge payoff to try that kind of stuff and experiment.”
The payoff for Jordan is not only getting to be bold with expanding the band’s sound, but also making an impact in people’s lives through music. “‘No More Bad Days’ is probably the song I’m most proud of, just because of what it has done as a song for my family and other people … it’s connected our music with more people than any other song we’ve written. Super in love with that song.”
Love is shown on stage whenever This Wild Life performs: love for their music, love for their fans and love of the connection between the two.
Featured Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of TandA Media’s Youtube account.
Setota Hailemariam is a freshman journalism major and can be reached at email@example.com.