Wildcat! Wildcat! At The El Rey – Dreaming With Purpose

Wildcat! Wildcat! live - Photo by Nathan Gallaher

Los Angeles – On Tuesday night at an overly occupied El Rey, local indie pop electronic trio Wildcat! Wildcat! performed an incredible live set. In August, Best New Bands met with the band right around the release for their dazzling debut LP, No Moon At All. The performance included an amalgamation of R&B-inspired beats, dreamy compositions, and a sonic palette overflowing with reverb. It was a presentation that lifted the jam-packed audience to new heights, both mentally and emotionally.

Wildcat! Wildcat! exists in a crowded electronic-heavy landscape, but their raw, live routine and keenness to connect to the audience sets them wildly apart from others alike. Alongside their pensive electronic configurations, the band divinely displays a sense of introspection. Jesse Taylor (lead vocals, bass), Michael Wilson (vocals, keys) and Jesse Carmichael (vocals, drums) are able to keep their sound grounded without finding it necessary to be excessive in both productions and theatrics like some of their peers. With a deep association to an audience completely joyous upon hearing their beloved tracks off No Moon At All (played all but one), Wildcat! Wildcat! performed in an element they now appear unquestionably accustomed to.

The band opened with the first track off the album, “Tower // W.O.H.L.” It features a purely melancholy sound as instruments roll in one by one for nearly a minute and a half until Taylor throws his mellifluous vocals into the ring. There is an inherently likeability to many, if not all, of their wonderfully produced songs. “Garden Grays,” a crowd favorite, turned up the noise level at the intimate, but amiable El Rey environment. My number one pick off the album and from the evening is “Up & Beyond.” An engrossing tune to get lost within, it showcased the group’s lush melodies and falsetto vocals. The band seemingly pushes the envelope with much restraint to boot, a great aspect lacking in many bands of this nature. Their echo is never inflated and lands perfectly each and every time. Wildcat! Wildcat!’s live performance in many ways outshines their sheer charming debut record. Much of their material focuses on an ethereal soundscape reminiscent of M83.

The band shifted away from original material briefly to perform two covers—Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up” and Tears For Fears’ “Everybody Wants To Rule The World.” While the former proved to be a fun and easy way to connect with the crowd, the latter was unequivocally incredible: quite beautiful and completely appealing with a Wildcat! Wildcat! signature flair coated all over the modern classic. “Nothing Below,performed just prior to their two-song encore, is an R&B inspired rhapsody that had the audience brimming with uncontrolled exhilaration and pure ecstasy. The six and a half minute rapture had the band jamming out intensely leading to its final notes.

Fortunately, and with much zest from the great turnout of participants, the band shortly returned for the Tears For Fears cover and “Marfa,” the final track on their album. The first half of the song is smooth and absolutely dance worthy. It then comes to a slow slimmer halfway through as Taylor and company belt the lines, “You don’t have to be alone, you don’t have to be on your own…to love.” As the song gracefully reached its conclusion, the look of wonder, hope, and fulfillment glazed over the faces of those in attendance. It wasn’t as if we all had gone through some life altering experience. However, for over an hour we became profoundly lost in something that collectively brought us together from the outside world. With a combination of wondrous sounds, mindsets transformed due to inspiration, and witnessing a standout performance seemed to be the only time feeling so lost meant something so great.

Supporting Wildcat! Wildcat! on this tour are Winter Hinterland and SUN CLUB.

Live Photos: Nathan Gallaher

Sean Kayden

Sean Kayden

His father has always been an avid fan of 70s and 80s artists. He introduced Sean at an early age to the likes of many rock groups of that era. In the late 90s, Sean acquired a fondness for the likes of such alternative bands as Smashing Pumpkins, Goo Goo Dolls, and Red Hot Chili Peppers. In high school, he gravitated towards artists like Brand New, Saves The Day, and Fall Out Boy. As Sean entered California State University Fullerton, where he earned his BA in Radio/TV/Film, his music taste expanded to the realm of Broken Social Scene, The National, and Death Cab For Cutie. For as long as Sean can remember, he has always had the desire of launching his own stories that would someday be presented through television, film, and print. This form of expression continuously uplifts his spirit. Sean is a certified TRX fitness trainer and teaches group classes as well.
Sean Kayden