August 19, 2010
House of Blues, Anaheim
Despite being close enough to Disneyland to see the whites of Mickey's eyes, Wolfmother transported a veteran crowd at House of Blues Anaheim directly to a 1970s, sweat drenched U.K. rock bar.
From the balcony, all you could really see was front man Andrew Stockdale's jiggling afro and oversized hands tearing at the abused strings of his guitar. Two symmetrically-positioned and symmetrically-ominous yellow jaguars gazed down over the psychedelic rock band. The rocking Aussie's heat-pounding chords and piercing wails shook the building, making the wooden rafters tremble from force.
Wolfmother drew a mature crowd, prompting thirtysomethings to brave the overcrowded passages of Downtown Disney, tripping over pasty white, fat tourists from the Midwest just to hear Stockdale's beautifully primal wails. The audience was an equal-parts blend of 24 oz. beer-toting, hardcore rockers and closeted office-types; those who shred paper by day, metal by night. The shaggy-haired sea of fans pressed up against every wall of H.O.B.
Stockdale prepared his followers: "If it's not already weird, it's about to get fucking weirder." Wolfmother split their set between hits from their award winning 2005 self-titled album and their 2009 release of Cosmic Egg. About three songs deep, the familiar opening chords of their KROQ-infesting smash hit "Woman," the one that earned them Best Hard Rock Performance at the 2007 Grammys, became audible. A deep tremor ran through the crowd, the full occupancy H.OB. mesmerized by the relentless rifts and howls that comprise Wolfmother.
Stockdale simultaneously bears resemblance to various rock gods, Donkey Kong, and the Weekly's own Spencer Kornhaber. He skipped, pranced, and rolled around stage with a mesmerizing stage presence. His worn leather boots, seen from up close, shed fat brown flakes of hide, decayed by the process of rock and roll. Band members Aidan Nemeth, Ian Peres, and William Rockwell-Scott were remarkably precise handling songs that, let's just say would rank "expert" on Guitar Hero.
And the hair was nothing less than impressive."There's something about the hair... I can't achieve that," a fan commented.
Wolfmother is just about as authentic of a rock sh ow as you can go to without time travel. Nearly all critical review of Wolfmother draws comparisons between legendary rock acts, like Jimmy Hendrix, Black Sabbath, and others. But Wolfmother retains a playful, personal sound with a distinctively Australian feel. Wolfmother doesn't imitate the greats, but rather stands on their shoulders.
The band left the stage after a mind-numbing performance of the up-tempo "Joker & the Thief." With the triumphant raise of a beer can, drummer William Rockwell-Scott reappeared and evoked massive applause. The Aussies told the audience "everything about being free" with the song "Vagabond."
Then, in one of the most brilliant covers this writer has ever heard, the Who's Roger Daltery was resurrected in a spellbinding performance of "Baba O'Riley." If you couldn't see past the raised fists and Bud Light Lime cans, you might not have believed that it was indeed Andrew Stockdale performing. With Ian Peres literally on top of his keyboard, Stockdale created a "teenage wasteland" comparable only to that of the Who. Ear drums still pumping with blood, fans poured out into the arteries of Downtown Disney.
Of course, a "Kidz Bop" cover of Walking on Sunshine ironically echoed in the main plazas of the center. Silly tourists: Andrew Stockdale and his Australian crew were the only ones to really walk on sunshine this summer's night.
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Critic's Bias: Got kicked in the back of the head by a crowd-surfer being wrangled by security (awesome), so maybe I was delirious.
Overheard in the Crowd: "There's something about the hair... I can't achieve that."
The Crowd: An equal-parts blend of 24 oz beer-toting, hardcore rockers and closeted office-types; those who shred paper by day, metal by night.
New Moon Rising
White Unicorn/Riders on the Storm (Doors cover)
Joker & the Thief
Baba O'Riley (Who cover)