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Wild Ones @ Boot & Saddle.

March 28, 2014

wildones (16 of 21)Text by Kyle Bagenstose. Images by Grace Dickinson.

Watching the low-key performance from Portland based Wild Ones at Boot & Saddle Wednesday night, it was a little difficult to put a finger on what genre the band falls into. Not that a band needs to be quickly shuffled into a particular box, but it helps to have some frame of reference to relate to others.

And then the five-piece outfit solved that problem for me toward the closing of the set, when they spectacularly covered Drake’s “Hold On We’re Going Home.”

“Ah,” I thought. “Now it makes sense.”

Like Drake’s 2013 hit, Wild Ones often combine a synth-heavy pop sound that would be right at home at a prom in the late 80s, with underlying drumbeats and guitar riffs that hold more modern R&B sensibilities.

The sound had a small crowd of about three dozen swaying and head nodding by the second song, “Golden Twin,” and encouraged some of the looser listeners into outright dancing by the time more uptempo numbers like “Curse Over Me,” hit later in the set.

Front and center in Wild Ones’ sound is the voice of singer Danielle Sullivan. Particularly in songs like the closing “Paia,” Sullivan’s sticky sweet delivery fit perfectly into the band’s dream-pop sound, with a lilt in her delivery reminiscent of– dare I say– the Cranberries’ Dolores O’Riordan.

When Sullivan was away from the mic, attention shifted to keyboardist Thomas Himes and guitarist Nick Vicaro, who often fed off each other, staying toward the higher ends of their respective instruments. The band also showed off some variety during songs like “Row,” on which drummer Seve Sheldon used the rim of his snare and splashy cymbals to help achieve a Caribbean sound. Sheldon also snuck a few perfectly timed break beats into the band’s dancier numbers, inducing hip swaying for much of the crowd.

Deep into extended touring, the band seemed a bit stiff on stage, offering just a few obligatory “thank yous” to the crowd. The laugh of the night came during an awkward silence between songs when an audience member yelled “your voice is so beautiful!” to, presumably, Sullivan.

“Thank you,” Vicaro coyly answered back, after having provided hushed back-up vocals on the previous song.

Opening for Wild Ones was the Philly based Weekender, who drew applause with their psych-pop style of rock.

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