– By April Potter
Wolf Alice is at the door, demanding to be let in – but this Wolf doesn’t bother knocking. As a Jingle Bell Concert Series headliner this Wolf huffed and puffed, and with an epic rock performance, blew the doors right off of The Phoenix Concert Theatre. The Friday night festivities commenced with two of Toronto’s most innovative local bands. A dash of psychedelic progressive rock, a sprinkle of hypnotic synth pop, and the star atop the concert tree – the sonorous alternative rock performance of Wolf Alice.
The ethereal electro pop of Brave Shores took the stage, opening for Wolf Alice. Siblings Jay and Stefanie McCarrol founded Brave Shores in 2013 with a layered, multi-faceted electronic sound. During their performance Jay sang a quirky bar or two of Jingle Bell rock, and Stefanie expressed genuine enthusiasm for the other bands to share the stage that night; declaring Bart’s performance a “real treat” and expressing her excitement for the Wolf Alice set to follow. The delicate harmonies of Brave Shores paired with the versatility of incorporating two Roland synthesizers, guitar and live drums (cue the organ music, funky guitar and disco beats) help to create a sound that should appeal to pretty much any listener. The breakout hit Never Come Down generated the maximum level of excitement, leaving the crowd well-prepared for Wolf Alice.
Ellie Rowsell, Jeff Oddie, Theo Ellis and Joel Amey did not disappoint as the main attraction. The London four-piece entertained Jingle Bell concert-goers with powerful rock songs from their debut EP My Love Is Cool. Brave Shores may have struck the match but it was Wolf Alice who added fuel and ignited the crowd. Opening with Your Loves Whore and ending with the popular track Moaning Lisa Smile as an encore, by the fourth song the crowd was jumping and dancing to the energetic alternative rock anthem You’re A Germ. Performance highlights included the high octane delivery of hit song Giant Peach and an energetic rendition of Fluffy. A bona fide recipe for a stellar rock performance, Wolf Alice has the requisite ingredients with Ellie’s strong but sweet vocals (reminiscent of pop/rock performers ranging from The Go-Go’s to Veruca Salt to The Donnas) paired with the feverish, fast-paced, sweat-inducing accompaniment of bandmates Oddie, Ellis and Amey.
The music of Wolf Alice is a testament to the powerful influence that the vintage Edge music of the nineties has had on many bands today. While the sad news of the passing of former Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland last week serves as a reminder of the ephemeral nature of life, bands like Wolf Alice are a reminder of music’s immortality. One spark of creative rock genius is extinguished, yet a legacy can live on through others who have been influenced. One can argue that Wolf Alice has effectively revived the spirit of the alternative rock music popularized by bands like Stone Temple Pilots and countless others. A celebration of new rock history and an inadvertent homage to legendary alternative rock pioneers (Weiland included) – could there be a more fitting way for Edge fans to let loose and blow the proverbial house down while spreading a little holiday cheer – probably not.