by Judith Feenstra
The Nectar is a peculiar venue for Seattle—positioned in central Fremont, surrounded by highly residential living, the venue itself doesn’t seem to be able to give the energy needed to pull off booking as one of the regulars. With most of the space normally used as small plates bar, the whole building seems to transform when the stage is opened up and merch tables are set out.
An unassuming duo stepped out under blue lights and onto a compact on-stage set to stand before the crowd, two dark silhouettes, dressed head to two in all black and leather. All eyes moved towards the stage when the sheer sonic magnitude of VOWWS’ powerful sound filled through the room and music like a force swept over the faces present. Suddenly everyone in the room was googling the Australian distortion pop duo—saving playlists to Spotify and placing the band deservedly in their perspective party queues. Matt and Rizz’s gothic melodies over perfectly grimy synthesizers and a handful of guitar riffs that really pack a nu wave punch in the sound, move together flawlessly to create the undeniably unique and irresistible music they claim.
VOWWS’ intensity captured the crowd as the band continued to surprise the audience with newer and newer sounds—making their genre harder and harder to settle. Borrowing influences from post-punk, grunge rock, nu wave, industrial pop and even metal, the group delivered music that was so much more than a revival sound, and infinitely more unique than anything they could have borrowed from the past.
VOWWS is currently touring with the well-loved English post-punk group White Lies and promoting their new single “Heartbreaker”. It seems that Rizz wears the most hats on stage. Running the drum machines, tones and vocal effects (with that badass walkie-talkie distoter), synthesizers, and really setting the atmosphere up there on stage. Whatever space is left under Rizz’s magic, Matt fills in with melody and heavy, haunting guitar lines—the two have the recipe for a perfect swaying trance.
VOWWS let the noise settle and thanked the crowd before leaving the Nectar stage to make room for White Lies. An anxious rustling amongst the crowd—the fans of White Lies are dedicated to say the least; a fellow attendee remarked that she had been following the band all over the West Coast during this tour AND had acted similarly the last time they jumped the pond for a tour.
White lies opened with their massive single from their new record Friends “Take It Out On Me” and the crowd ate up every second. It’s really easy to love White Lies on stage—they’re constantly smiling, laughing and engaging with the crowd. They know that they are adored and we definitely adore them. Throwing out some old crowd favorites from their 2009 LP like the title track “To Lose My Life” and “Unfinished Business”, the show felt perfectly rounded between the new wave of fans and the persevering force of the long-time lovers of the band.
The performance was perfect. The lyrics off the new record are so moving, I cried and danced simultaneously on multiple occasions throughout the show. Friends was my favorite album of last year and the live-set was everything I could have wanted to see. White Lies have been around the block long enough to know how to wow a crowd without begging for a positive response. Poised, powerful, playful, and purposeful. White Lies left an imprint on Seattle even after they left the stage.