The Wombats at Union Transfer
On Tuesday, January 9, we had the pleasure of attending ‘The Wombats’ headlining show at the Union Transfer. Showing up to the Northern Liberties area about an hour before doors, we had the exciting pleasure of witnessing something every music fan wants to see outside of the show they are about to attend: a line around the block. Showing a surprising amount of dedication on a chilly Tuesday night, it was clear that fans of The Wombats were ready for the night of their lives. We popped into a friend’s place around the corner for a few minutes, and upon arriving back to the venue, the line was just as big, if not bigger. Once inside Union Transfer, we could easily feel the buzz in the lobby (as we could in line). It seemed that energies and stars were aligning just properly for this night to be an incredible experience for all fans in attendance. As the first opening band went on, a 360 look around the venue revealed a practically packed room filled with eager fans. What was not present was something that led to a large sigh of relief from our crew, there were minimal over-intoxicated fans. Everyone was there to have a good time and enjoy the music in a respectful and fun manner that continued all the way through the headlining set.
Opening duties were handled by ‘Nation of Language’ and ‘Courtship’, who were welcomed by dancing attendees and a decent amount of cheers for the second band, Courtship, as well. Both bands brought completely different sounds, which to us, actually underplayed the energy of the show quite intensely. Nation of Language provided us with a trip back to the 80’s rocking a serious synth-pop influence that they proudly wore on their collective sleeve. Their entrance to the stage included their lead singer letting the crowd know that he had quit his day job to do this gig as soon as it was offered just a few days earlier. While that endeared everyone to the band, the music they showcased came across as slightly unfinished and it seemed that the performers on stage were much more into the music than the fans in the audience. All in all, the performance was a little outside of the ordinary for a show of this caliber, and while some in the audience possibly enjoyed it, we could have done without it.
Up next was Courtship, who definitely found a way to rock the room with much more gusto than the previous band. Guitarist Eli Hirsch brought with him an energy unmatched by any other performer that night. Jamming their own releases into the roof, and electrifying the crowd with covers of songs like ‘Hey Ya,’ by Outkast, the band found a way to get fans sweating. Micah Gordon, lead singer of the band, whose voice was, at times, monumentally drowned out due to lack of power and ability to hit the high notes that some of the band’s songs called for, was the only drawback from the set.
After both openers finished up, the time had come for the main event. The Wombats took the stage to deafening screams from the crowd, and from start to finish, they comfortably found their place on stage like it was their childhood home. The Wombats are a band that gives the impression that they love what they do more than anything else in the world. The venue transitioned into an oasis of escape for many fans who were found singing the lyrics to every song with a twinkle in their eyes that you would be hard-pressed to find at many other shows. Starting the set with a brand new song, ‘Cheetah Tongue’, (which Gordon couldn’t remember the lyrics to for a five minute period that fans didn’t seem to mind one bit), the tone of the set filled the hearts of Union Transfer, forcing fans to practically barricade themselves to the venue until the final possible note played that night. Following Cheetah Tongue, the band transitioned into ‘Give Me A Try’ and ‘1996’.
Their fifteen-song main set concluded with ‘Pink Lemonade’, ‘Turn’, and ‘Moving To New York’. After a quick pop off stage, the band returned for a two-song encore: ‘Let’s Dance to Joy Division’ and ‘Green Tragedy’. The only thing we were left asking ourselves as we left the venue was, “Man, I wonder when we’ll get to see them again?”