Last night, British indie pop outfit The Wombats played their first ever show in Seattle at the Neptune Theater. Fans queued in line as early as 10am on Tuesday to give the Brits a warm Pacific Northwest welcome.
Two bands joined the main act on the Glitterbug tour: Cheerleader and Life in Film. The latter took the stage around 9pm as the second opener. They played songs that sounded like a mix between early Two Door Cinema Club and the entire Angus, Thongs, and Perfect Snogging soundtrack. From several feet away, it looked as though fifty percent of the band spent more time in the gym than in the studio, and the lead singer, holding a can of PBR, audibly sang with a thicker accent to make the girls in the front row scream even louder.
Luckily, The Wombats redeemed themselves.
Launching into the first fuzzy notes of “Your Body Is a Weapon”, the crowd erupted, stating the obvious— that this first show in Seattle was long-awaited. Next up were “Jump Into The Fog” and “Moving to New York”; Matthew Murphy’s effort to see just how far back in their discography the audience would go with him. He was validated when the crowd screamed part of the chorus back at him in unison, “Christmas came early for me!”
Murphy cracked a smile like he didn’t know that was going to happen.
The middle of the set was packed with songs from the band’s recent release— third studio album Glitterbug. The title is a little kitschy, but that’s a part of the band’s ethos. During the performance, a roadie was wandering around in the audience with an iPhone attached to a selfie stick, filming the band’s own little rock doc. Bassist Tord Øverland Knudsen wore an American flag t-shirt and was sweating like the boy in your sixth grade gym class after a game of capture the flag. In between songs, Murphy leaned into the mic and would yell, “Awesome!”
The Wombats not only make it okay for dudes in polo shirts and New Balance sneakers to lose themselves next to the kind of beautiful girls Murphy is singing about, but they make it feel like there was never a divide between the nerds and the cool kids.
“Please feel free to go nuts on this next song,” Murphy cackled into the mic as he played the keyboard intro for “Techno Fan”. The audience accepted his invitation and sang all the words. Ending the main set with “Give Me A Try,” the band entered a phase of self-realization when they sing, “We could be gigantic,” because they know they finally are.
After letting the venue burst with cheers and screams for a minute, the three took the stage for the encore. During “Emoticons” Murphy brushed the sweat from his curly hair with his hands. As he sang, “You need to find a different boy’s heart to chew,” guys raised their hands in salute to heartbreak and girls danced in admission of their responsibility.
Before leaving the stage, The Wombats satisfied the last of the crowd’s cravings by playing “Let’s Dance to Joy Division”, adding a two minute-long guitar solo to the end. The three bowed off the stage in gratefulness and the showgoers filtered out the door into the night.
The Wombats really are gigantic.