By Brad Dress
At 9 p.m. Oct. 2, the lights hovering over the front stage in the 9:30 Club shut off, rendering the venue black.
The clubbers had just witnessed Sabra Ahabra perform; a soulful pop act with a back-up keyboardist. It had been somewhat of a surprise, following the withdrawal of singer-songwriter Jaymes Young, who fell sick the night before.
Still, Ahabra introduced an interesting flair to the show, setting up the main act—Oh Wonder.
So when the lights shut off, the men and women at the club must have known it was coming; yet questions still floated in the air, whispers were heard, heads turned back and forth.
Suddenly, the faint strum of a guitar is heard somewhere in the obsolete blackness, followed by a keyboard— finally the crowd roars, claps and shouts its approval. Lights flicker red, green, then purple; the crowd could now see the letters OW ingrained in purple LED lights standing like monumental pillars behind the Oh Wonder duo.
Lights raced around the side of the duo as they launched into “Dazzle,” a hit song off their first album. The crowd surged forward, a wave of bodies dancing to the hyper song. Josephine Vander Gucht, wearing a black, dressy shirt that complimented her cascading, brown bangs, floated her hands over the keyboard and melodically sung while Anthony West, adorned in casual clothes, strummed the guitar and chanted back-up.
When “Dazzle” ended, the crowd was relentless: they wanted more. They launch into a thundering applause while simultaneously begging for more. Oh Wonder began performing “Solo,” a popular song off their latest album.
The song ended softly with the two singers gazing at each other like star-crossed lovers.
Nearly half-way through the show, after West delivered a sweeping guitar solo to the end of “High on Humans,” the pair initiated a conversation.
“This is one of the best venues in Maryland!” West bellowed enthusiastically.
“Everyone in Washington is like really nice,” Vander Gucht replied, looking at West with a tugging smile.
After a few more exchanges, they laughed before launching into a new rendition of “White Blood.”
The songs performed moved from angelic tunes to upbeat, techno-pop songs that had the crowd swaying like zombies, roaring louder than the music itself and begging for more.
Green lights flickered like alien ships, fog floated in the background and the stage often went dark in anticipation. Vander Gucht even brought in her younger brother to play saxophone to “Heart Strings.”
Lexie Botzen, a Baltimore native who travelled nearly an hour to see the artists, said it was her third time seeing Oh Wonder, but it had been one of the best.
“They are always really good,” she said. “[The show tonight] was really well done.”
As Oh Wonder closed with “Technicolour Beat” and disappeared behind the stage, the crowd continued to erupt into a long, continuous roar, hoping for an encore.
Even when it seemed like they weren’t coming back, the crowd continued to cheer.
Eventually the lights burst back onto the stage, and the Oh Wonder duo rushed back, jumping, shouting, ready to deliver more.
Featured Photo Credit: Oh Wonder performed at the 9:30 Club in Washington D.C. on the second night of their Ultralife Tour. (Britney Pieraldi/Bloc Photographer)
Brad Dress is a junior journalism major and can be reached at email@example.com.