Before Wand have even played a note to kick-start the first date of their European tour at Brighton’s Patterns, frontman Cory Hanson turns to each individual member of the band and says, “Have a good show” quietly and politely. In many ways, this sums up Wand’s live show completely. Often it’s spontaneous, off-the-cuff madness, but it’s always friendly, wholesome and lots of fun. Furthermore, they never quite know where they’re going to go next, which makes their live shows excruciatingly exciting. Their show at Patterns began with Hanson stating, “It’s good to be back, playing in this cage like fucking animals”. It looks like it’s not just Brightonians who find Patterns’ layout troublesome.
Acid Box Promotions favourites Strange Cages opened up the night with their frenetic brand of psychedelic-garage-punk. I’ve waxed lyrical many a time about the band on this site, so I’ll just say this: they’re a terrific live unit, with immensely fun and dark songs and each of them are impressively tight, yet ramshackle, musicians in their own right. Songs such as ‘The Cracks’ are no doubt future classics.
The main support for the entire tour are Swiss trio East Sister, who reminded me of an amalgamation of Warpaint and Let’s Eat Grandma. There’s a melancholia about their live show, with frontwoman Lorraine Dinkel’s soothing, slightly sinister vocals. Their songs are built on off-kilter drum patterns which makes for a unique live experience, as well as Laura Schenk’s synth and keyboard giving them an otherworldly feel.
Speaking of an otherworldly feel, Wand graced the stage and kicked straight into their eclectic brand of fuzzy psychedelia. There’s a diversity to Wand that means that even their own fans can’t keep up at times. The Brighton audience, always keen for a mosh, were left bemused at times as they moshed in the wrong places, and stood at the times they should have moshed. This is the genius of Wand. Their sound is so unique – so ahead of the curve – combining aspects of metal, psychedelic and garage, that as a live prospect they’re constantly difficult to keep up with. Moreover, their playfulness with pace and timing is superb. Switching from monstrous riffs to subdued melodies with ease, the audience didn’t know if it was coming or going at times.
Most of the time throughout the set, Wand played as if they were playing one continuous song. It was for such lengthy periods of time and was so mesmerising that when they did eventually stop for a breath the audience would forget to clap. Occasionally there’s a dream-like nature to Wand, but then they crumble that facade with somewhat comic metal-style riffs. It makes them a hard-sell on record but, peculiarly, their live shows are captivatingly cool. They are in no way a perfect band, but they know that and they use it to their benefit. They prosper in the bizarre, and they’ve found a niche in the music world that is admirable.
Essentially, Wand are an outlandish band that are brilliant in their spontaneity. This impromptu nature gives their live show a wild, madcap and impulsive feel and makes their music even more freaky. Ultimately, Wand make the sort of music you’d expect to hear in a mawkish 50s horror film where a scientist accidentally turns into an insect, and it makes their live show a breathtaking, strange and exciting prospect.