Wild Child takes the music seriously, but not themselves

Wild Child with Stelth Ulvang at The Fox Cabaret, 04/26/18

There were romantic and feel-good vibes at The Fox Cabaret Thursday night (April 26), thanks to the romantic and feel-good indie-folk band Wild Child. The group has become known for their fun, indie-pop influences, while also seamlessly incorporating masterful orchestra sound. Now on tour for their fourth album Expectations, the band turned things up a notch, with singer Kelsey Wilson wowing the audience with her powerful vocals we don’t always hear on their softer tracks.

The band jumped right into things with the title track of their third album, Fools. Long-term fans may have been sad to see singer Alexander Beggins’ trademark moustache had vanished, though his charm remained.  After another upbeat track, The Tale of You and Me, Wilson finally addressed the audience for the first time:

“I love you guys.”

Indeed, while a lot of Wild Child’s work focuses on breakups, there seemed to be a lot of love to go around Thursday night. One couple sat cuddling on the bar, another was kissing in a booth, the dance floor was filled with swaying couples – one could spot new pairs excitedly flirting, while others were comfortably embracing and listening in silence. Even as they performed sadder songs about failed love, like crowd-favourite “Silly Things,” Wilson would often break into a smile, looking extremely happy to be up there on stage.

Wilson and Beggins came together as songwriters in Austin. Now, the band is seven strong, with Wilson on vocals and violin; Beggins in vocals and ukulele; Sadie Wolfe on cello; Matt Bradshaw on keyboards, trumpet and harmonica; Tom Myers on drums; Cody Ackors on guitar and trombone, and Tyler Osmond on bass. All these moving parts made Wild Child a feast for the eyes and the ears, and all the members were beautifully in sync.

The band kept it casual and playful. Wilson once stopped between songs to look for her mom and yelled at the crowd to “bring her to the front!” Wilson and Beggins then played a few songs along together, exchanging smiles and laughing while singing new tunes like “The One” and “My Town,” but finishing with the old favourite, “Pillow Talk,” which got the crowd energized and singing along.

They were also able to poke fun at themselves, Wilson joking about her and Beggins’ chemistry.

“Is this the part where we stare into each other’s eyes and people think we’re in love?” she asked.

“Yeah…Wait, what?” Beggins replied.

“Am I joking? I don’t even know,” she laughed. They then recalled their April Fool’s joke where they posted a photo on Instagram of them embracing and cradling a fake baby bump on Wilson.

This playfulness and intimacy on stage is a big part of why any fan would love to see Wild Child live. The whole crowd seemed relaxed, looking more like they were at a gathering in a friend’s basement than at a concert with a band that has amassed millions of listens on Spotify.

Expectations had the band travelling to different countries working with different producers, going as far as Chris Walla’s (Death Cab for Cutie) studio in Norway. The album seemed to have given Wilson the chance to go wilder with the vocals, like her impressive performance on Expectations’ title track. As Wild Child performed this song live, it no longer felt like a folk show – the crowd got a little crazier, a little faster, maybe also with the knowledge that the night was coming to an end.

As an encore, the band finished with one of their biggest successes, “Crazy Bird” from their second album Runaround. Wilson got down with the crowd, while Bradshaw had an impressive harmonica solo, and the whole group made overdramatic jazz hands towards Myers as he finished with a drum solo. Wild Child delivered exactly what fans likely walked into the Fox looking for – a group of talented musicians not taking themselves too seriously.