By Emilia D’Albero
When The Wombats’ last show at Webster Hall in October ended in thunderous applause and shrill cheers, it was clear that they would definitely be back again soon to shake the venue with bouncing bass riffs and catchy synth melodies. Last Thursday, The Wombats did indeed return to New York City- to Webster Hall again, in fact- and elicited perhaps even more excited and intense reactions from the audience than they had in October. Even before doors opened, female fans donned Wombats apparel and accessories and lined up down the block, hoping for a good spot from which to watch their beloved foreign rockstars sing the songs that they love so much. Fortunately, these fans were certainly not disappointed. On Thursday, The Wombats whipped out a more varied setlist, impressive opening acts, and visual effects that made the show an experience that will definitely be difficult to forget.
Opening the show was Flagship, a five-piece band from Charlotte, North Carolina. Flagship took the stage with confidence and for 30 minutes, entertained the crowd with music that was as ambient as it was powerful. Their original songs have a light, dreamlike quality to them that can give the sensation of floating and relaxation, but can also keep one grounded and focused because of the pounding drums and heavy guitar chords from Michael Finster and Matt Padgett, respectively. Frontman Drake Margolnick wailed his way through their set, his voice raw and full of power and emotion, and by the end of Flagship’s set, the audience was pumped up and ready for the next act.
The second opener, The Static Jacks, are relatively well-known in the New York/New Jersey area for their garage rock sound and moderately rowdy live shows, at which their fans and friends alike can be seen jumping, thrashing, and singing along wildly to both new songs and old. Unfortunately, on Thursday it appeared that Wombats fans were not familiar with The Static Jacks, as only a handful of audience members jumped, thrashed, and sang along. But that did not deter The Static Jacks from putting on a stellar performance. Opening with their newest single “Young Guns,” the band barreled through their set head-on and uninhibited, playing songs from their new EP, The Spray Tan EP, as well as songs from their debut album If You’re Young, and even a song called “Zombie Prom,” which is so new that it is not even featured on the Spray Tan EP.
One of the most memorable moments from their set was during “Girl Parts,” when Beast Make Bomb vocalist and guitarist Ceci joined The Static Jacks on stage to sing the female vocals for the song. The rest of the audience members were left nodding their heads and even shaking their hips to the unique punk/grunge sounds of The Static Jacks, even though most had never even heard of the band before. The last song, “Defend Rosie” (which the band typically uses to open their set) was rowdy, heavy, and the perfect way to end their set. Fans and first-timers alike were caught headbanging and even thrusting their middle fingers into the air at the end of the second verse as frontman Ian Devaney bellowed the lyrics and got the crowd excited and ready for the main event of the night.
As the lights dimmed for the third time Thursday night, the screams and cheers of The Wombats’ fans echoed throughout Webster Hall, as if beckoning the three men to take the stage as fast as they possibly could. The Wombats opened their set with “Our Perfect Disease” and the crowd absolutely loved it. From the first verse, the audience sang along with every word and continued to sing every word of every song thereafter, jumping during the choruses and shaking the venue until the floor was bouncing and creaking under the weight of The Wombats’ fans. The Wombats played an extremely varied setlist, with songs from their debut album A Guide to Love, Loss, and Desperation as well as their most recent release, This Modern Glitch. Fast-paced songs like “Girls/Fast Cars” got the audience jumping and dancing to the infectious dance-pop beats of The Wombats’ tunes, while slower songs like “Little Miss Pipedream” provided the opportunity for a venue-wide singalong, complete with slow swaying and even a few lighters and cell phones in the air.
Frontman Matthew Murphy is extremely charismatic and took the time to banter with the crowd and his fellow bandmates; he dedicated the song “Jump Into the Fog” to The Static Jacks’ former member Andrew Santora “in honor of his incredible sex drive” and proclaimed that they were playing a “golden oldie” while introducing the song “Last Night I Dreamt…” Closing out the main set with “Tokyo (Vampires and Wolves) was obviously a good choice, as the entire venue shook harder than it had during any other song in the set as their fans practically screamed the lyrics at the band in a frenzy of headbanging and sweat. Murphy is not shy in front of a crowd and certainly has a sense of humor, acknowledging the presence of the red balloons that had been released into the audience by thanking their fans “for coming out tonight to play with my big, red, inflamed balls.” The encore included hits “Anti-D” and “Let’s Dance to Joy Division,” both of which elicited thunderous applause from the audience and provided a wonderful send-off for the British band.
The Wombats always put on a fantastic show and every performance is their best performance; bassist Tord Øverland-Knudsen’s spastic bouncing around the stage is as entertaining as frontman Murphy’s banter, and it is impossible to be bored while watching The Wombats on stage. This band has the ability to combine rock music with dance beats to create a unique, fun sound that can only be the result of the hard work and passion of three dedicated, fun-loving musicians and it always feels like a privilege to watch The Wombats on the stage.
All photos by Michel Dussack
THE STATIC JACKS