The state of indie rock today presents a densely packed field of artists, each one trying to make more noise than the last; trying to hang on to the coattails of various Spotify playlists so not to fall into the junk pile of 2-album careers.

This is the world we live in, where not many ‘make it big’ but anyone can make it ‘medium’.

Wolf Alice, Sunflower Bean and Superfood are three such bands that occupy this middle tier of music. Wolf Alice are presented with the challenge of stepping up to the bigger leagues that record-mates the 1975 did last year, even if entering the world of pop got them there.

Supporting queens of the stone age is perhaps one such stepping stone for Wolf Alice, but for now, they are in Brighton Dome, a quite beautiful venue, following two neat sets from their warm-up acts (Sunflower Bean and Superfood).

Immediately striking is how their set has lost the warm shimmer of the first album, something replaced with a cold serenity perfect for this wintery night. Opener ‘Heavenward’ has a sonic quality of sun shining through clear ice, and the closing riffs of ‘Planet Hunter’ is more spacious yet muscular – a storm by the sea.

It is clear how Ellie Rowsell has quickly but quietly grown into one of the more stylishly intriguing leads in recent years, her combination of ethereal, echo-drenched vocals and breathy verses of spoken word mumblings on ‘Dont Delete The Kisses’, a standout moment of serenity and raw lyrical honesty, cutting through the crowd.

What seems different this time around, however, is how Wolf Alice seem assured but less phased by the bright lights then two years ago. They have aged in the heat of the spotlight and the colour lamps, and it is clear in how they perform tonight.   

They seem to have lost the innocence and sheer excitement that made them so endearing, but perhaps this is fitting for the new era of their trajectory.

The Wolf Alice standing here tonight is a band of quiet confidence, a certainty in delivery and reception they might have doubted before. Their performance is brash but slick. Each song never loses energy, and the standing crowd don’t fail to accept the challenge, churning and convoluting to each anthem.

Near the back end of the set comes ‘Visions of a Life’, the key, multi-faceted track drifting from heavy, half-time ambience to pumped-up, adrenaline-booster indie rock charting the full pan of their musical abilities. 

They may seem aged by the brutal process of modern touring, but it might just get them to the big leagues, perhaps where they belong.

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Alex Leissle

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