​​Live Review: Remi Wolf // Oval Space, 13.11.21

© Alex Waespi

Sometimes, live events are easier to experience than describe. In one room, a musician can create an ecosystem where each member of the crowd is dragged ear and eye along an artistic pilgrimage. Simply put, it’s their world, we’re just living it. On Friday night, Remi Wolf’s hyperactive stage persona stunned the East London audience into a joyous submission. 

Not long after 7:00 PM, the doors open at the Oval Space. It is a quaint, elevated structure that sits adjacent to a set of gigantic iron frames traditionally used for Victorian storage tanks. Despite its industrial backdrop, the space is littered with fairy lights and plants which quickly establish a cosy and classy atmosphere. The sold-out event is part of Pitchfork’s inaugural London takeover and in the spirit of subtle marketing, their logo illuminates the wall opposite the bar.

North London outfit, Joviale, is the first band to take the stage. Their stripped-back sound is emboldened by the addition of dynamic horns. Toward the end of a tight performance, a band versus engineer narrative starts to prevail, with the lead singer frustratingly announcing the end of their set, followed by an ironic “Loool.” 

The LA-based trio, Gabriels, startle the audience with a spellbinding introduction. Frontman and choir director, Jacob Lusk, rests the mic next to his ribcage as he bellows from his chest, boasting a voice that must be heard to be believed. Like an angel, Lusk stands in the centre of the stage, drowned in all white, with a bedazzling blue light miraging off the perspiration on his face. It was a stunning experience. 

© Alex Wespi

As anticipation slowly starts to suffocate the room, Wolf pounces and energetically bounds back and forth across the stage, screaming the hook to the bombastic opener ‘Liquor Store’. Her style is ripped from a Jacqueline Wilson novel – UGG boots, a black and gold dotted dress with a puffy yellow shirt underneath. As the song finishes, she rips her earpiece out. “It’s scratching me up like a cat,” she laughs. 

Last month, Remi Wolf’s kinetic debut album, Juno, presented listeners with a bipolar-like caricature. The 25-year-old dove into contrasting themes of love, fame, addiction, and anxiety on a tight 40-minute masterclass. On Wednesday, Wolf performed the album to a British crowd for the first time, which NME aptly described as a “cathartic, feel-good party”.

“Sexy Villain,” “Grumpy Old Man” and “Hello, Hello, Hello” ooze with mood-lifting funk. Meanwhile, Wolf intermittently speaks to the crowd. She is a born performer who’s got the balls to flash a stereotypical English, bordering-on-oceanic, accent and ask, “Is this offensive?” to which she replies, “I hope you know I’m doing it all night…” the crowd can only cheer in a confused manipulation.

While her incessant use of Hollywood English may come off a little crass and unpopular, the decision to litter her set with covers, ranging from MGMT’s ‘Electric Feel’ to Gnarles Barkley’s ‘Crazy’, is a safe act of genius. Especially for a British crowd that can’t help themselves to an indie throwback.

For a brief moment of insanity, Wolf’s British gag evolves into a tongue-in-cheek punk rager, with the drummer front-and-centre listing off American words that cause confusion in the English setting, “Chips mean crisps and pants mean trousers!?” he screams. Even better, Wolf is slamming her heart out on the drum kit with her frizzy hair rebounding like a yoyo. It’s a chaotic, disjointed, and hilariously unforgettable moment. 

After a night soaked in a gamut of sound and emotion, Wolf bows out with the never-before performed, ‘Street That You Live On’. It’s a sorrowful and heartbreaking track that pushes Wolf’s vocal capabilities to the max. A triumphant moment of reflection. The sunset-soaked summit of a rampant night of fun.   

Words By W.P Millar 

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