There’s a massive amount of quality music released each year, and it’s both easy to access and difficult to find in the vast expanses of the Internet. For that reason, I increasingly rely on announcements of touring bands to draw my interest to music I might enjoy. I thus first heard of Wild Child when 10 of my friends announced their interest in attending their performance at Gabe’s — friends with similar enough musical sensibilities to cause me to stream some of the band’s songs on Soundcloud and find that I was enchanted by them.
I had other obligations, and so missed the two opening bands and arrived in the middle of Wild Child’s first song. Given the band’s talent and forecasted interest, I was surprised to see only a small crowd of perhaps 40 people hovering before the stage. These, however, were true fans that sang along to every song, and the band recognized and rewarded their devotion. The occasionally cavernous darkness of Gabe’s was transformed first into a house party, and then almost into a campfire sing-along. Four songs into the set, Kelsey Wilson (lead singer and violinist) had the fans sit on the floor where she and Alexander Beggins (lead vocals and baritone ukulele) also sat to sing a few songs — including the beautiful and intimate “Pillow Talk.” The overhead lights twinkled like stars, creating one of the most truly touching moments I have experienced in almost two decades of watching bands perform at Gabe’s.
The band was receptive to the audience, encouraging requests from the audience and playing them gladly. Joy infused the set, adding another dimension to the bright, sunny songs and making sense of the need for Wilson and Beggins to occasionally wear shades as they performed. The whole of the band — including Evan Magers on keyboards, Sadie Wolfe on cello, Tom Myers on drums, Chris D’Annunzio on bass and Matt Bradshaw on trumpet — seemed deeply engaged with each other and with the crowd, smiling and laughing while performing with precision. They played old favorites and wove in new, unreleased material, delighting the crowd each time.
The tones bathed the audience in a warm radiance. Each song was a chance to heal, to be found and noticed. Individuals at the front of the stage bounced up and down, rejoicing, couples kissed and danced in the back. Love flowed clearly among those who had brought a dance partner, but, unlike some shows, their dances were clearly invited by the music and added to the atmosphere.
The last song soared with an additional energy and intensity, but in a way that built on the entirety of the set in a wave of triumphant exultation and bliss. It wove the strengths of the band together in an almost qualitatively new and different way, as they performed without holding back. They invited one of the openers, with whom they were touring, to share the stage with them — and, unlike some such occurrences, the audience could witness the true camaraderie tying the two bands together. The tones hovered in a sweet fog grounded in honest talent, infused with a true gratitude for the ability to perform together here. For this crowd. On this night.
Wilson invited the crowd to join her and the band for tequila shots at the back bar after the set had ended, an invitation that almost everyone present seemed inclined to accept. But my heart was filled with the joy of the music, and I descended the stairs to the outside and witnessed the glad tidings of the stars in a clear night sky, carrying the echoes of their songs within my heart.