People sit huddled. Black forms in the smoke laugh and drink their beers and stare at phones, swiping left and right, the screens dimly lighting up their faces. I’m underground at Patterns, doodling on my notepad in the corner, casually rereading the notes I’d made about the previous two bands.
We are all caught by surprise when we hear the rhythmic banging of drums, the bass beginning to grind into the walls and the scream of a guitar calling us to attention. The Wilde do not need to announce themselves when their music so clearly does it for them.
Their live and unique entrance is mirrored in their debut EP, Young Libertine, and I recognise the passion from when I started my evening by listening through the five tracks as I prepared to go out. Both times, I’m instantly fascinated by the pop-rock introduction of Until Next Time, It’s a One Time Thing; first on Spotify and secondly in person as their vocalist, Tommy, stands on a small podium so to call the audience closer, raised, engaged, arms spread out wide.
I can see why Alex Baker of Kerrang Radio calls them “a pop groove rock juggernaut” because although they label themselves as an “alt rock pop” band, their sound shifts. When I ask about their style, Michael, their drummer who greeted me when I arrived, tells me that it’s their “melodic edge” that adds the personality and I definitely agree. This fusion of genres and style makes their music addictive and enchanting. People put their phones away and gather closer, huddling together to be as near to them as possible. There’s something almost biblical about this chemistry between the band and their followers and without noticing I am now one of them. It’s a struggle to decide whether to do my job and make notes or to just chill and rock out.
With every band that performs there’s an obvious relaxed relationship between performer and watcher. Warm-up act, We Capture Kings, banter between songs, still sweaty from raving on stage. The Divides construct a more chilled out indie vibe, their set more prom-dance than metal-head. Rory Indiana fire up moshers at the front and induce screams from fans at the back.
Yet, once the performance begins again, any comedy is dropped and the music becomes an unholy, concentrated, reckless force. We’re whipped up into a clapping frenzy. We’re enthralled by how lost the artists are in their music. We watch the guitarists whisper the lyrics as we cry out the words. Our feet stomp and the power of the bass makes it hard to breathe. After a while this energised atmosphere becomes the norm and each performer recreates this mood.
On the night I noted that when The Wilde is on stage, it becomes a VIP mosh pit with only the band invited. Guitarists, George and Josh, the bassist Jack and vocalist, Tommy reach out to each other; they are singing to us but I feel like there’s a conversation being had that we’re not supposed to understand but only admire. Their chemistry is clear; George tells me The Wilde was a result of two bands merging and high school friendship.
More audience members arrive with each song and they pack tighter with each new verse, applauding furiously. It is The Wilde’s first time playing in Brighton, the first stop on the Young Libertine Tour, yet from the turnout you’d expect they’re well-known local regulars, not lads from Leeds. They play their eight-piece set for us with a furious passion, as if in order to live, to exist, they must perform. There is never a silent moment. Even when Tommy speaks, a guitar croons an accompaniment to his voice.
“Come closer,” he says and we obey.
Michael at the drums is not still; standing at the end of their new track, Don’t Let Me Down, and at one point, breaking a drum. Nothing halts and in response, we don’t stop stomping along. The penultimate track, Back When We Were Kids is the song that makes me fall in love with them as artists. As they begin playing, Tommy stands on the podium, the lilac lights stream over his face and show the sweat on his brow and the passion in his eyes. I clap before the song has finished because I want to be first.
The set concludes with Young Libertine, the titular track on their EP. I recognise it instantly as Tommy cries that iconic hook, “Be careful what you ask for.” His energy is infectious and finally, as I watch him jump across the stage, I give up; my notes dissipate as I finally choose to stop writing and just be in the moment. This is not just rock but like their name suggests, something entirely wild, a hybrid of alt pop, the indie world and classic trap beats.
The moment that sticks out in my mind is between songs when Tommy announces, “Before we start this next song we’re going to do something weird, something different.” Even now, days after, I don’t know why he stated that when their entire performance could be defined by that line. Michael reveals that they’ll be revealing new music over Christmas and I can only hope that this new material is classed as ‘weird’ and ‘different’ too.
A ‘libertine’ is someone unrestrained by conventions and it’s evident that while The Wilde are the epitome of what their EP elucidates, they mean for us to be a part of that definition. As Rory Indiana hyperbolically drag out their songs to entice the audience, their nihilistic lyrics bringing forward the rockers and the moshers, I see the guys join us. Together, The Wilde sit at the back, now just one of us as they nod their head and bask in the chaotic frenzy that is a rock gig at Patterns.
By Erin Louise Harrison