Show Review: Wolf Gang

 Recently I had the pleasure of seeing the British based band, Wolf Gang, at the Upstate Concert Hall in Clifton Park, NY. The band, originally founded as a solo project by Max McElligott, now rounds itself out with the talents of Lasse Petersen on drums, Gavin Slater on guitar, James Wood on bass and Beau Hollan on keyboard. Their first album, Suego Faults was released in July 2011 with Atlantic Records. In February 2013, the band signed a record deal with the American label, Cherrytree Records. Since then, Wolf Gang has started work on their sophomore album, due out later this year. In April, they released several tracks from the upcoming album on their Black River EP.

Wolf Gang has also been busy in the past three years touring, including their recent North American run that began in May. The band has opened for greats such as Coldplay, Florence and the Machine, and The Killers. The show in Clifton Park was also one of the select dates in which Wolf Gang opened for fellow up and coming Brits, Bastille. In fact, the June 2nd date I attended was the last date Wolf Gang opened for Bastille, and they celebrated with a great collaboration on Bastille’s hit, “Pompeii.”

While I was not familiar with Wolf Gang before the concert, I certainly am now. Sometimes all it takes is to hear a band live and you’re hooked. I found Wolf Gang’s sound to be very unique, with a sort of an electro-indie feel that just made me want to hear more. As I listened, I felt myself drifting into another sort of world. I could see myself relaxing, listening to the album on the beach or driving along on a road trip.

They played a great nine track set, keeping the crowd engaged and energized. All of the songs had good intros, each with a special hook. They were also nicely harmonized, an advantage I think that comes from the talents of having a full band. McElligott’s voice seems pure and raw, and Hollan on keyboard (who unfortunately is only a touring member right now) adds that extra special something to each song.

What especially stood out to me was the way each member seemed to interact with the crowd. You could really feel how appreciative they were to be doing what they love. Being able to sense that is something I think resonates most at a concert; it’s what makes not just a good show, but a great one.

Their opening song, “Black River,” was by far my favorite. I enjoyed its upbeat nature and the sort of lightness of the song. McElligott and Wood had incredible energy on stage right from the start. I knew then that the rest of the set was going to be just as contagious.

Another song that blew us away was “Ghost In My Life.” It’s often hard to listen to the lyrics of a live song if you’ve never heard it before, but if you force yourself to focus in on the words, hearing them for the first time live can also be the best way to fall in love with that song. As soon as McElligott came out with his acoustic guitar for this song, I knew I would do just that. Especially coming from the opening band, “Ghost In My Life” blew me away; it’s a true gem.

Wolf Gang closed with “Lions In Cages,” the most likely song of theirs to be known. It was a great choice to end with, being catchy but also having a sense of farewell. I was happy to see that this performance wasn’t the last of Wolf Gang for the night, though. As I mentioned, they did come out for “Pompeii” with Bastille, but the band members also came out to hang with fans after the show. Small venues always provide that benefit, and it’s great for enthusiastic bands like Wolf Gang.

If you haven’t had the chance to check them out, definitely give Wolf Gang a listen, and I recommend trying to see them live the next chance you get!

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