It was a marsupial party in downtown Minneapolis last night as one of the UK’s most prominent indie rock bands were in town at the Fillmore. This show was undoubtedly special (as every show “post-COVID” seems to me) because The Wombats haven’t graced the Twin Cities since July 2016. At the risk of my memory and math being off here, that’s six whole years since the band has been in the city — which is pretty bonkers given how active the Wombats have remained with releasing new material over that timeframe.
Due to the long intermission since we’ve last seen this notorious Liverpool trio, the energy around the show was absolutely buzzing. It’s always great to see a band you haven’t seen in a long time, but there’s really not many things better than a Friday night gig. You can show up, stay late, and enjoy your evening without the looming dread of having to sacrifice that second or third drink to make sure you are 100% good to go to work early in the morning.
And come to think of it, this is the first actual show I have attended at the Fillmore, which is also exciting in itself. The only other time I’ve been in the venue was during the “sneak peek” soft opening in February 2020 just a few months before the world shut down. The gorgeous chandeliers and long upper-balconies greeted me upon arrival just like I had never left.
Kicking the night off was Clubhouse. Clubhouse is a young band from Columbus, Ohio. And I gotta say, it’s always nice to see the Midwest out there representing. Especially when you consider they’re supporting a long established band that lives all the way across the Atlantic. Clubhouse’s sound gives off a smooth, feel good-indie pop vibe with hints of electric hip hop. While they may be from Ohio, their music was reminiscent of the west coast and Los Angeles.
The band’s tone seemed to be a perfect complement to the Wombats, as they were hazy, synthy, and fun. I have no doubt they will receive a significant bump in their listenership after this tour, especially given how digestible their music is for fans who come into the show unfamiliar with them.
Boyish was next and played a short 30 minute set but made the most of it by packing in a lot of humor and charisma. Lead singer Claire Altendahl was playful, joking with the crowd between songs. Her personality was radiant and the rest of the band members smiled and laughed along with the banter. Before the last song she asked the crowded Fillmore, “Can we take a selfie for my mom? She’s not here.” The crowd happily obliged.
It was not long before the Wombats were ready to come out and treat the fans to what we’d all patiently been waiting six long years for. The band started their set by playing the first song of their newest record, “Flip Me Upside Down”. This song instantly got people up and dancing around. Even though many were in masks, it was still obvious to see smiles light up on people’s faces. Having a space to dance can really do wonders for the soul and the Wombats delivered just that.
Given their dreamy synth rock sound, it’s only fitting The Wombats hail from Liverpool as they procure a modern Beatle-esque vibe. Lead singer and guitarist Matthew Murphy has an uncanny ability to shell out some massive talent as a wittingly clever lyricist. The Wombats can figuratively take you to places you’ve never been before — yet places you feel like you’ve been to a dozen times. Want to take a mental field trip to a nightclub in some European city you’ve never been to? A scraggy bar in Tokyo? Another magical Friday night enjoying the familiar taste of pink lemonade? Look no further than between the lines of the poetic verses delivered from Murphy.
While there may only be three members on stage, it does not feel like there is much empty space given how captivating and explosive the band is — specifically bassist Tord Øverland Knudsen is. Knudsen is a built-in hype-man, interacting with the crowd, jumping up and down, and giving plenty of smiles to fans. He makes the Wombats a really fun band to see live.
Not only was the band on their game sonically, but the stage antics were a lot of fun to see as well. Multiple times throughout the night, the band’s tour manager, Dan, crashed the stage dressed in a full wombat mascot suit. It was obvious there was a lot of fun being shared on stage and between members of the crowd. Murphy shared with the audience that Dan frequently tried to “up his game” from night to night coming up with new ways to surprise the band on stage.
Overall, Friday night’s show felt like a much needed release. A show to be thankful for live music, thankful for nostalgia, but overall, thankful for bands like the Wombats that bring us together to celebrate when celebrating is in short supply. Let’s keep dancing – let’s dance to joy division.