Skip to content

Gig Review: Wallows @ O2 Academy

Sean Lawrenson reviews the latest Wallows gig at Bristol's O2 Academy.

By Sean Lawrenson, First Year English

When I first heard Wallows were coming to Bristol, I tried my best to snap up a ticket. However, it appeared I was too late, selling out rapidly. After weeks of refreshing on Ticketmaster, the resale ticket was finally mine. The sold-out show is a testament to the remarkable growth in popularity the LA-based Indie-Rock trio have amassed steadily over the last few years.

The support act MAY-A were quick to bring high-octane energy to the Academy, with an enigmatic stage presence and pounding basslines, the crowd seemed on board from minute one. Following a rather impressive set from the Australians, featuring their latest single, the drug-fuelled ‘Sweat you out my System’ (released 12th January) and ‘Say Nothing’ the rampant roars were displaced by a sudden hush and occasional mumbles from the audience.

Credit: Sean Lawrenson

Que the most piercing of screams beside me as Brendon Lemasters makes his way onto the stage, shortly followed by Dylan Minnette and Cole Preston. Not breaking a sweat, the trio launched straight into ‘I don’t want to talk.’ Perhaps the greatest signal of the gig was hearing the impassioned screams every time Minnette merely gestured to his harmonica, as if to say ‘this is what you want to see right?’.

Another telling moment was the slight pause as Minnette, upon seeing the incredible reaction to ‘Treacherous Doctor’, spoke to his fellow bandmates and subsequently announced to the audience “we weren’t going to play this tonight”. The recognition of a set-list change was enough to inspire loud cheers from the audience. It is the type of interaction that assures a good, if not great reaction from your crowd. That this next moment feels specifically tailored, singling out this night from any other. Quite frankly, Wallows could have played any song, from ba-ba black sheep to Claire de Lune, they still would have had the audience on their side. When they did start playing ‘Talk Like That’ however, it was met with more than just recognition. It was a collective appreciation on our behalf.

Credit: Sean Lawrenson

The set never seemed to hit a particularly bum note, apart from the one instance before ‘Dig What you Dug’ when that did in fact happen, struggling with the guitar intro, but even then, in that brief moment of silence, the audience were fully behind the band. It is a credit to the hard work the trio have put in to diversify their music more that their final two songs prior to the encore were the jumpy, electric guitar-heavy ‘Scrawny’ which saw the audience bouncing up and down for two and a half minutes straight, followed by the acoustic ballad ‘Guitar Romantic Search Adventure.’ As I looked out into the sea of phone lights and swaying arms, it appeared to me as if I had seen two completely different bands, one song after the other.

Of course, when Minnette announced “Thank you Bristol” to the crowd and they made their way offstage, there was absolutely no movement towards those exit doors. Chants rang out of ‘one more song’ and when those were not received, the crowd changed to ‘Bored Yet’, until, after a few minutes, the trio were back on stage. “Ask and you shall receive Bristol”, remarked Minnette as the beginning melody to their hit 2019 song ‘Are you Bored Yet’ played. Despite the lyrics in the song, I can only imagine very few people left the building with boredom on their minds.

Featured image: Anthony Pham | Atlantic Records

Have you seen Wallows live?