Wolfmother's ballistic guitar party satiates hungry fans at First Ave

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Wolfmother getting loud at First Avenue

Completely in sync with the band before they even hit the stage, the crowd was just as eager to get things going as Wolfmother was at Wednesday's sold-out First Avenue show. On the first night of Aussie band's Gypsy Caravan North American tour, you could feel a raw immediacy fill the atmosphere as the latest incarnation of the power-rock trio pounced onto the stage.

Led by founding member and gallantly afroed lead singer/guitarist Andrew Stockdale, Wolfmother are touring in support of their brand-spanking-new release, Victorious. Joining Stockdale on this go-around are longtime bassist and keyboard player Ian Peres and touring drummer Alex Carapetis, who’s played with everyone from Julian Casablancas to Nine Inch Nails to Kesha.

Attacking the stage in their skinny jeans and hair that likely surpassed the legal limit, Wolfmother tore into the new record’s title track, their bellowing amplifiers assaulting with chunky riffs. Peres laid a foundation of keyboard swells while Stockdale led the crowd with hand claps, immediately uniting the room for a very fulfilling evening.

While featuring heavy doses of the band's new LP, the night also sampled quite a bit from Wolfmother’s self-titled debut, which recently received the 10-year anniversary re-issue treatment. Some sound issues seemed to plague the set throughout the night, but they did nothing to hinder the mass of enthusiastic fans packing the club.

On "New Moon Rising," Carapetis’ pounding drums set the stage for Stockdale’s bluesy guitar solo and soaring vocals, spurring wild fist-pumping during each chorus. Wolfmother then whipped everyone into a frenzy with a breakneck “Woman”.

Allowing for a quick breather, Stockdale greeted everyone with pride, “This is the first gig of our U.S. tour. Can’t think of a better place to start it off!”

Wolfmother went right back to taking no prisoners with a frantic take on "Apple Tree." Mountains of fuzz guitar and whip-smart vocals even inspired a couple crowd surfers on the swirling Mainroom floor.

Wafts of ganja in the room would accompany the keyboard drone intro to “White Unicorn." A no-frills gallop, the song climaxed with layers of sonic impulses and the ultimate chorus, as Stockdale held his guitar totemistically toward the jumping audience.

Stockdale shook his mic stand for dramatic effect as Wolfmother dug deep with “California Queen” from 2009’s Cosmic Egg, while the spastic “How Many Times” from 2014’s New Crown allowed for the mosh pit to swell.

After another shout-out to Minneapolis ahead of “Dimension,” the song evolved into a steady grooving space jam that had Stockdale not only leading the audience with more clapping, but also had him cutting loose into a chicken dance of sorts.

Wrapping up their set with a thick and noisy version of “Colossal," Wolfmother left the stage with a feedback loop from Stockdale’s guitar. Drowned out completely by the rapturous audience, the band returned with the Zeppelin III-esque “Vagabond." 

For the coup de grâce of the evening, Wolfmother once again ignited the audience into hysterics with the opening leads to “Joker and the Thief." It was an urgent run through that completely exhausted everyone — the perfect, swift ending to a thrilling night.

Critic’s bias: Though it’s only been out a week, I’d been listening to Victorious fairly nonstop. It was great to hear the music come to life on stage. I am surprised they didn’t pull out the sweet and likely crowd-pleasing “Pretty Peggy." Guessing that one’s more destined for a movie, car ad, or public radio.

The crowd: Totally ballistic for the entire set!

Overheard in the crowd: “What’s with that bass player’s Rick James wig he’s got on?”

Random notebook dump: Openers Deap Vally returned to First Avenue after opening for Peaches last October. With a new drummer in tow, the two ladies from Los Angeles had their work cut out for them, as the crowd was rabidly waiting for the headliner.

Still, in their neon pink and green spandex, they managed to truly get the evening rocking with their garage-rock sound winning over many. Stoked to hopefully see them do a headlining gig back in Minnesota soon!

Setlist:

Victorious

New Moon Rising

Woman

Apple Tree

The Love That You Give

White Unicorn

California Queen

How Many Times

Gypsy Caravan

Dimension

The Simple Life

Colossal

Encore:

Vagabond

Joker and the Thief


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