Heavy riffs and psychedelic jams shook the Underground Arts as Australian rock act, Wolfmother kicked off their brief run of US dates the other month. Philadelphia was the first of only four east coast stops before the group embarked on a Euro-tour of mostly festival slots running through mid-July, ending back in their native Australia.
After local opener Ruby the Hatchet got things started off with their heavy-yet-ethereal brand of rock ’n’ roll, Wolfmother took the packed house all the way back to the start with the first track off the first record, “Dimension.” Lead singer Andrew Stockdale had amazingly crisp vocals and it sounded just as mind-blowing as if you were to think back to popping in their 2005 debut for your first listen. The crowd singing back all the words at an extreme volume did not detract from the main event, but rather brought everyone together in solidarity, setting the tone for the evening.
The Jimi Hendrix vibes WERE REAL as the group moved into their second number—also the second track on the first record—“White Unicorn,” when Stockdale held his guitar toward the sky like an offering, fringes flapping about on his half-jacket. Between the overall instrumentation and Stockdale’s haunting, drawn out “we could live togetherrrrrrrrrrrr” choruses, there was not one person in that basement—er, venue—that did not have shivers down their spine.
Things were just heating up by time Wolfmother got to “Colossal” in their set. Seriously. Andrew was as hot as the rest of the sweaty bodies packed into Underground Arts and finally removed his jacket, exclaiming, “HELLOOOOO PHILADELPHIAAAAAAA!!” This after leading the crowd in “HEY! … HEY! … HEY!” chant between striking chords on his axe. When Stockdale knelt down for a blistering speed metal solo toward the end of the song, it was like all of time had stopped and he was the only focal point in the room; a magical moment and real set highlight.
Unlike the opening number, smash-hit “Woman” actually had the crowd singing louder than Stockdale, with people pogoing about, fist pumping, and slam dancing amongst one another. While the crowd was starting to get appropriately rowdy, Underground Arts did not see the first crowd surfer (and only of the night) until “Apple Tree,” a bit later in the set. During that half way point, the crowd was going crazy in the best way possible; “safely thrashing” if you will. They were absolutely going hard, jumping around and pumping fists, but one could still move safely through the crowd without getting knocked out.
Two newer cuts made their way into the setlist from Wolfmother’s 2016 record, Victorious; the title track and the badass, bluesy “Gypsy Caravan,” the main set closer. The only thing one could be ever-so-slightly bummed about was their lack of material from this and other records. After not having a headlining stop in Philadelphia for over six years, it would have been nice to see a broader splay of material from their discography than a setlist so heavily based upon the first record.
That being said, Andrew Stockdale’s vocals still sound amazing, as if time has stood still for over a decade; especially showcased on the band’s only encore song of the evening—arguably their biggest hit—“The Joker & the Thief.” After taking a brief leave off stage, the thunderous cheers from the audience saw the band return in one last glorious sing-a-long at the Underground Arts before calling it a night.
All Photos by our girl Shannon Nicole!