At Exit / In, the weekend never ends. Even on hump day, locals and students shuffle into their tiny, black box venue ready to dance late into the worknight. So happened on Wednesday, when young adults sporting thick-rimmed glasses, baseball caps, and sprouting lumber-jack beards filled the house to see Wild Nothing. The bar was open, but from start to finish the crowd remained classy and smelling fresh.
The show kicked off with Small Black, a pop band whose path crossed with Wild Nothing’s when the lead singers were neighbors in Brooklyn. Small Black’s songs followed a standard formula of consistent, heart-thumping bass drum shrouded by an ethereal cloud of humming guitar, synth keyboard, and soprano vocals. Frontman Josh Kolenik’s voice trilled airily, but always ended sentences with a jolt, as if to match the curt drum and shout “hey!”
After loosening up the crowd with their danceable rhythm and positive attitude, Small Black made way for the trailing vocals of Jack Tatum and the accompaniment of the other Wild Nothing members. Their opening number set the standard for swelling crescendos and murmuring, electronic interludes.
The group took the first of a handful of water breaks after “Nocturne.” Tatum’s audience interactions during these was minimal. With a deadpan, quiet voice, he would emit a charming awkwardness while making brief statements about this being the second stop of the tour or playing a song that was requested on Twitter, often chuckling before restarting the music.
A change of the backlighting from lime green to purple mellowed out the crowd for a slower song from their early days, “Adore.” It’s tracks like this that prove how easy it is to got lost in Wild Nothing’s trance-like, spacey vocals and reverb, with only the drum to ground you. The crowd reacted accordingly, swaying lightly, eyes closed, lips upturned.
Lime green flooded onto the stage again, bringing the audience to life at the sound of “Paradise.” Then just when things slowed back down with “Alien,” they picked up to an ultimate high with the gem of the show, “Disappear Always.” With Michael Skattum executing an epic drum solo and Nathan Goodman pulling heartstrings with his guitar riffs, it felt like the band’s spirit lived in this song. Even Tatum escalated his head bob to more intense dancing.
A few more tracks from their most popular album, “Nocturne,” rang through the venue before they closed with an encore, ending at the start with the album’s intro, “Shadow.” Dancers expelled the last of their energy as they bounced from foot to foot during the finale. Tatum, Goodman, Skattum, bassist Jeff Haley, and shoeless keyboardist, Kevin Knight, filed off with parting waves as their fans cheered. What a way to break up the week.