It’s not easy to have a killer show on a Monday night. Especially in a small town like Burlington.
I’ve been to a few weeknight shows in my day, each with varying amounts of audience. There’s the occasional full house, typically associated with a bigger name, but more often than not it’s a band playing to a curious audience of 20. It can go either way, but what makes or breaks the show is not how many people are watching it. It’s how they perform, regardless of whether it’s to 10 or 10,000 people.
With that being said, Wolf Alice’s sparsely attended, rainy Monday night show was killer.
After milling around the showcase lounge at Higher Ground for a bit, we were surprised by the suddenly very present opening band. Coquette, a Randolph power trio, delivered a rockin’ set of fast, energetic, and very loud original songs. Their fiery blend of pop punk and alternative rock sounds mixed well with lead singer Cobalt’s thrashing around the stage and eccentric bassist Angus’s ragdoll flop. They spewed out maybe seven songs that were full of a whimsical type of energy, successfully getting the crowd moving despite being just a bit short-lived.
Coquette was followed by an initially timid Wolf Alice. Beautiful, blonde lead singer Ellie Rowsell and her band mates entered the stage wordlessly…and delivered a tremendously loud and powerfully energetic wall of alt-rock sound. It didn’t take long for the crowd to start moving and head banging became the dance of choice. “What up, Burlington?” Ellie asked after the song, telling us that our town, and this show tonight, was the first show of their first ever US tour. This was met with cheering all around before they plunged back into a passionate explosion of instrumentation and Ellie’s alternately soft and sneering vocals. A small mosh pit soon opened up at the base of the stage, just a few dudes who had too much energy to contain. I quickly joined them and they cheered as several people – including Coquette’s Cobalt – followed suit. Ellie and bassist Theo Ellis looked on with grins on their faces.
I think it’s safe to say that most people were sufficiently sweaty and filled with energy by the time Wolf Alice finished their set. They walked offstage with a humble “Thanks, guys,” and ignored our meek chants for encore. They quickly reappeared, this time offstage and without instruments, to join Coquette in mingling with the audience. Photos and autographs began, the room still buzzing with excitement. I had an entertaining conversation with Cobalt, as fun guy who definitely doesn’t take himself too seriously. Neither band was deterred by the small audience numbers, and both delivered furiously energetic, passion-filled sets, giving it their all despite the limited Burlington turnout.
Eventually the hum died down and Wolf Alice returned to the “calm” of Higher Ground backstage. I slipped out, sweaty and slightly deaf with a signed ticket and a setlist snagged quietly after set was finished. My body still hummed with mosh pit energy, and adrenaline mixed with pure love for a good show raced through my veins as I stepped back out into my drizzly Monday night.