By design, I’m not a huge proponent of placing bands and artists in one particular “genre.” It’s tricky, because in recent years newer bands have been coming out of the woodwork and completely gutting our perception of genre. If you look at any band’s Wikipedia pages, most of them will use an extremely broad genre as a descriptor. Radiohead: “English rock band.” Pinegrove: “American rock band.” And in Wild Belle’s case, they’re simply described as an “American band.” No genre attached! I wonder why that is . . . Just short of creating an overly-hyphenated custom genre for every band, I think it’s easier to simply open your ears and enjoy a band’s music, label-free.
Wild Belle further solidified my thesis on this topic Saturday night. Frontwoman Natalie Bergman provides the band with their own signature sound via her sweet, sweet voice. Her brother, Elliot, backs up the sound with some funkadelic baritone sax playing. (Honestly, all my millennial mind could picture whenever Elliot blasted his bari sax was that I bet that’s EXACTLY what instrument a Snorlax would play. Pokemon Go reference for relatable millennial points??) Aside from that, the band showed their versatility that night by effortlessly moving through contrasting sub-genres like reggae-, dance-, and psychedelic-pop, among others. A particular highlight included watching the crowd involuntarily bob and sway to their reggae-inspired hit “Keep You,” while their eyes moved in admiration between Natalie’s smooth dancing and Elliot’s alluring bari sax lines. Other hits from the night include “Happy Home,” “It’s Too Late,” and “Throw Down Your Guns.”
Wild Belle weren’t the only ones to bust genres that night. Three absolutely phenomenal acts prepped the crowd with an array of unique, sub-genre tunes. Buffalo natives, Wild Things, opened up the venue with some alternative-indie-rock-pop sounds (see, isn’t that a mouthful?).
Soon thereafter the Toronto bad boys, ROMES, took the stage . . . and they blew our goddamn eardrums out with layers upon layers of synth, bass, and some nasty guitar riffs. Probably didn’t help that I was crouched right in front of the stage-left sub-woofer the whole show. But anyway, damn. Let me tell you, I’ve seen many a grungy boy band, but this was the first time in my adult life that my 13-year-old fangirl soul reared its ugly head. What is it about catchy synth-pop grunge rock that gets me going? We may never know . . .
I don’t think the crowd that night knew they were in for a triple-threat of openers. First Wild Things, then ROMES, and finally Humble Braggers. For argument’s sake, this three-piece group falls under the “ambient-indie-synth-pop-rock-and-don’t-you-forget-it” genre. On a side note, the demographic for that night’s show was so strange; moms and dads of teen attendees, and, unless my eyes were deceiving me, a small child on the shoulders of her dad. Normally this would challenge any band used to a certain type of crowd, but Humble Braggers had no issue engaging the wide range of concert-goers that night. They put out a truly solid performance featuring tracks off the most recent of their three existing EP’s, Disposable Friends, featuring two of my personal favorites “How It Starts,” and “All Alone.” Seriously, folks, keep an eye out for this trio. They’ve got some superb stuff brewing in the next few months, and if this review is the first time you’ve heard of them, rest assured it won’t be the last . . .
Wild Belle - Throw Down Your Guns (Music Video)