Wallows prove that sweater vests and pensive cogitation make for a cathartic release of pent-up vexation.
Despite their laidback demeanor, Dylan Minnette, Braeden Lemasters and Cole Preston form an indie rock band that abounds with bubbly exuberance and ravishing radiance. Aglow under the warm golden light of tall homey lamps, Wallows lit up The Warfield in San Francisco April 7, brightening the disposition of fervent fans.
A soothing opening act from Claire Chicha, known as spill tab, prepared audiences for the lively act to follow, entrancing listeners with ethereal French lyrics, high-energy hair flips and covers of iconic early 2000s songs. Doused in pink and blue light, she inaugurated an aura of affability, encouraging the crowd to enter a variegated world of vulnerability.
The conclusion of spill tab’s set initiated anticipation of the three-piece band, something made even more suspenseful as a triangular formation of lamps lit up one by one, ardently blinking until Preston, Minnette and Lemasters graced the stage.
The opening drums of “I Don’t Wanna Talk” fusilladed through The Warfield, sparking screams and cheers from concertgoers. Wearing a retro wool sweater vest, Minnette euphorically jumped across the stage, harmonica in hand and desperate to reach the beckoning microphone to bellow: “I’m not alright, but I don’t need comfort.”
Basking in San Francisco’s enchanting atmosphere, Minnette harkened back to a track from their 2020 EP Remote, “Virtual Aerobics.” “This song feels only appropriate while we’re here in your beautiful city,” Minnette said, coyly grinning from ear to ear.
Clapping alongside audience members and hitting comical poses during the song’s pauses, Minnette and Lemasters grooved in glee. Though the song’s lyrics note “There’s no color in San Francisco,” Wallows defied their discography, painting the city in luminescent neon with their vibrant set.
After a sprightly performance of “Scrawny,” Wallows slowed things down with the “These Days.” Enveloping Lemasters in the crook of his arm, Minnette playfully nodded along to the track’s contagious chorus, fluffing Lemaster’s hair in joyous affection.
Preston sat on his perch, twirling drumsticks between his fingers and bouncing along to rosy lyrics. Yet, during “Quarterback,” he took center stage, trading spots with Minnette to emit dreamy vocals.
Minnette took control of the drums with ease, highlighting Wallows’ impressive adaptability. Enshrouded in dewy green light, Preston’s voice rang through the venue, inspiring latent screams from fans longing to see the young musician sparkle in the spotlight.
Concertgoers tossed balloons onstage that floated into the effervescent universe crafted by the performers. Minette and Lemasters kicked them up with their feet, tossing them back into the audience with zeal.
During their hit “1980s Horror Film,” Lemasters leisurely waltzed across the stage with a yellow bouquet, acting out the lyrics with hurried hand motions and goofy dance moves.
Jauntily shaking a tambourine, Minnette jumped into the opening notes of “Marvelous.” In his peppy ebullience, he frantically spewed out the song, pausing when he blundered the lyrics: “I can’t believe I just f—ed up those lyrics, I’m not gonna do that to you.” Starting from the beginning, “Marvelous” was even better the second time around.
Trading passion for candid vulnerability, Minnette brought his partner, Lydia Night, onstage to perform “Permanent Price” alongside him.
“This song is literally about her, so it’s an honor to sing it with her,” Minnette admitted, beaming at Night with adoration.
Closing out the night with “Guitar Romantic Search Adventure” — a song perfect for pensive introspection and late night car rides — the band left the stage before returning for a three-song encore.
Fueled by spontaneity, the band asked the audience what track they wanted to hear before settling on a yelled suggestion: “Ice Cold Pool.” Despite the song’s frostiness, The Warfield was anything but chilly.
Glazed with welcoming warmth, the show ended bittersweetly. Perhaps the permanent price of watching Wallows live is never wanting their set to end; though Wallows mournfully waved goodbye to fans, telling them that it was over was no less poignant.