When Wild Nothing played Maxwell’s in Hoboken on Friday night, the atmosphere reminded me of a classic theater: crimson red curtains as the backdrop and yellow hued spotlights. I thought the ruby red color and the brash lighting made for an odd set up for a dream-pop act. Apart from the stage though, the scene was everything you might expect: The bar in the restaurant section was like a watering hole for twenty-somethings. The drinks of choice weren’t expensive, but they were sure as hell refined. This wasn’t a “Don’t look at what’s on tap, just get a PBR or Tecate” kind of show: chic outfits, Kentucky Derby hats and Magic Hat #9s lined the bar.
Maybe the fact that this was one of Maxwell’s last shows was partly responsible, but the joint was packed, the show was sold out, and everyone at the bar flocked into the showroom once they got wind that the opening act was on stage. Included in the flux of people was Wild Nothing’s Jack Tatum who stood in the crowd for the entirety of Donovan Blanc’s set. It would’ve been interesting to see what would have happened if the two teen girls fluttering with excitement when they saw Tatum on stage setting up had realized he was actually in the crowd with them for a solid 20 minutes.
By the time Wild Nothing hit the stage, Maxwell’s had reached the maximum capacity and the stage lights had turned a cerulean blue. With an atmosphere more suited to the band’s sound, Wild Nothing began to play. They opened with “Shadow” off the band’s well-received 2012 romp, Nocturne. Tatum’s bedroom-eyed coo permeated the dimly lit venue, bouncing off the jasmine ceilings and getting everyone dancing—with or without lovers. A handful of older dudes danced like they were eager to make up for the fact that they missed seeing The Cure in the ’80s.
Tatum mostly drew from Nocturne, with the occasional grab from his wistfully pining debut Gemini and 2010’s Gold Haze EP. The only track played from this year’s Empty Estate EP was “Ride,” which is kind of curious. Maybe Tatum’s vista with the superball synths and strutting disco numbers came and went and “Dancing Shell” was just a quick fad. But that doesn’t mean the crowd left feeling like they’d been cheated. Wild Nothing’s show was like an idealistic clubbing event for people who don’t want to grind, but just sway to a sensual little number like “Paradise.”