Wild Front / Think Tank, Newcastle | 5th of December

Wild Front / Think Tank, Newcastle | 5th of December

Headlining the bill at Think Tank is a bit of a rite of passage for many bands to play in Newcastle, and on December 5th, I was there to see Southampton band Wild Front have their first time, along with support from local acts Into the Deep and Mayfare, for a night that saw dream pop vibes electrify the North East.

The fun began straight away, as the doors opened to a set from Into the Deep, a half Leeds, half Newcastle hybrid, who’s groove driven rock sound was the perfect thing to shake off the stresses of everyones day jobs and get everyone bouncing early on. The singers falsetto cut well with the pounding guitars and a drum beat so hard he broke both his drum stick and his kick pedal. But the main spark was the humour of the band, making quips and jokes in between songs to really make the whole set entertaining. This made a nice change to having to just stare blankly at them as they retune their guitars and play with their pedals.

Mind, the next band, Mayfare, took bounce to another level. The energy they brought, as well as about three quarters of the crowd, was off the scale. Now, despite their haircuts being a throwback to the 2007 era of indie gold, this alt indie act couldn’t have been more current. All hailing from the Newcastle area, their set of original tracks, all written by the band since their April conception, were fast, fun, and about the pitfalls of youth. Whatever they’re doing, it’s working, as the young crowd they brought were all having the time of their lives. Singing along and moshing about to create a great atmosphere, clearly empathising with the bands laid back approach, the guitarist even played the entire set with his shoes off, a technique, he tells me, is purely for comfort, apparently.

But after the thrash of the support, Wild Front took to the stage, and I was expecting the place to mellow out and chill on a cloud of shoegaze infused marijuana smoke, (especially when they came out to set up, and hiding the synthesiser on a desk was a black and white portrait of Christopher Walken!). But to my surprise, the band are far louder and heavier in person than I found on Spotify, all whilst still keeping the same experimental elements that make their songs highly listenable. Tracks like Her, Physics, and Midnight in Hackney were all given the heavier on stage treatment, as well as some new songs like Guilt Trip being played to crowds for the first time to show a bit of development towards a rockier sound. They also played their latest single, Southside, which featured a collage of childhood pics of the lads in Southampton kits and on bouncy castles to give a more personal connection to them. The highlight of their set though, had to be Rico, and not just because it’s a terrific track, but the way it was played. Lead singer Jack picked up a guitar, put it on his face, and whilst playing chords on the fret boards, sang into the strings to create one of the most unique and ambient noises I’ve ever heard. He played the rest of the track with the guitar, but used a violin bow instead of plectrum. I found out afterwards that he found the instrument in a charity shop who were selling it off as it had faulty pickups that were too sensitive. It’s amazing what a bit of ingenuity can do to an apparently “broken” instrument.

All in all, Wild Front have a great sound that is just trying to find its audience. It was absolutely no surprise to me that Madchester legends James asked them to support earlier in 2017, and since the bands forming six years ago (2 years as current line up) they have been busy building a fan base, selling out their home date in Southampton, as well as their opening date in London. But away from that, this ambitious band are having to rely heavily on outside forces to get people in. They may not have been helped by the fact the Steps reunion tour hit Newcastle that same night, what a Tragedy, but of all the people I spoke to, only one girl and her boyfriend were there specifically for Wild Front, having heard them on a random Spotify playlist of new music or emerging talents. The thing is, that’s where they’re going to find their audience, and I for one, sincerely hope they do, as they are a hard working group, who just need that break. To quote the singer of Mayfare, “Stick around for Wild Front, guys, they’re absolutely sick”

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