Entering the Shipping Forecast on this late August evening, you wouldn’t expect to meet the initial reception that defies all previously held expectations. WAND – a kaleidoscopic ensemble playing psychedelic-infused garage rock – are promised to us. An evening walk home accompanied by joyous tinnitus and lasting colour is, generally, the symptom of this forthcoming prescription. And yet, on arrival, the venue is silent, almost intimidating. It’s unbearably quiet. The anticipation borders on nervousness.
You also wouldn’t expect this sort of atmosphere for a band like Wand. The Californian outfit have gained attention and interest of music lovers all over the world with five albums in five years, from Ganglion Reef in 2014 to this year’s Laughing Matter. To break the deafening silence, Margate band GANG take to the stage.
“Sorry if this is self-indulgent,” they say before playing a full-force, 40-minute medley of songs without any breaks. It’s quite remarkable to watch, though as an audience you’re left a bit dazed and confused by which song is which; when is the end and when is the beginning? It all blends into one, like an entire novel printed on an endless scroll, no page breaks for thought or introspection. It’s a full capture of the senses. There are even a few quick notes from Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, for anyone who has keen metalhead ears in the audience. The crowd, filling up throughout this 40-minute thrashing, are loving it.
Initial fear dissipates. The basement is full for Wand. There’s a collective feeling restored and every sonic limb has been well stretched. Gang have set the foundations with their heavy psychedelia and Wand build on them with finesse. Their more melodic approach is instantly palpable.
Their setlist borrows mainly from Laughing Matter. Even though, judging by the response, some of the audience members may be here for older songs like Melted Rope, they still put on a captivating show.
Wand create a wall of noise, but with an approachable, almost pop-like sensibility. It’s more a structure that builds around your contours, rather than juggernauts right on through. While in recent years the hype for Wand might have died down, they prove in their live show that they’re wonderful masters of their craft. Perhaps more ought to celebrate their humble mastery.