The psychedelic retro-metalheads of Wolfmother stringently adhere to the no-frills, jeans-and-tee rock aesthetic when they go live. Forfeiting pyrotechnic posturing in favor of level-11 amps and guitar kicks, their cathartic hybrid of power chords and glass-breaking vocals sounds no better than in the communal dishevel of a sweaty concert hall. The fact that the Australian trio’s Atlanta set was entertaining enough with a verbatim run-through of its self-titled album speaks to the level of exuberance held within the band’s live set. Lead singer Andrew Stockdale’s treble howl dovetailed cohesively with bassist/organist Chris Ross’ accompaniments, leaving no complaints with the overwhelmingly teenage audience. The band even wore its main influence on its sleeve with a rambunctious cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Communication Breakdown” during the encore.
Even though some concert goers might have been satiated by this capable performance, I had the privilege of seeing Wolfmother at Lollapalooza, and suffice it to say, the Wolfmother of the Chicago festival was not the Wolfmother of this recent Atlanta date. The abused microphone wrangling and twisted organ bashing that created such a kinetic buzz at Lollapalooza was sorely missed here. While I can appreciate the fatigue-inducing rigors of touring through every semi-populated city in the United States and beyond, it’s hard to eliminate the doubts in my mind suggesting that the group was holding back on this night. Wolfmother convinced its Atlanta fans that they were simply in the process of becoming a pagan god’s channel of sonic fury, whereas Stockdale and Co. know full well that they already are.
No doubt (and with all due respect to other like-minded bands such as The Sword), Wolfmother wields the potential to elevate integrity-laden hard rock back into the mainstream. But first, they’re going to have to accept their barbaric manifest destiny and maintain a live performance that can wrestle free the hammer of the gods.
Wolfmother’s Official Website
Wolfmother on MySpace