May 6 was an energetic night at Union Transfer where the rock band Wallows took the stage for a sold-out performance. The crowd was eager to hear the Los Angeles-based band perform, and many were equally excited for the opener — Joy Again.
It was Joy Again’s first night on the tour, a fitting start seeing that the band hails from the great city of Philadelphia. The local five piece makes interesting indie music that pulls from rock, pop and hip hop. Maybe it was the local connection or a Monday night crowd eager to forget the school/work day, but I have never seen a room this full for an opener. I arrived just as they were starting up and the crowd was already reaching back to the sound and lighting booth.
Joy Again was a great opening act for Wallows. Their music aligned well with the headliner’s material and had the crowd ready. I even watched a couple bubbles of moshing break out amongst the packed room. The set was entertaining and the band members looked like they were having a great time on stage.
Though the crowd was enticed by Joy Again, Wallows was the band they were here to see. Selling out Union Transfer was a nice step up for the band, who played at The Foundry last time they came through the city. As the band took the stage, the room erupted in screams. The crowd skewed a little young but there were a fair share of college-aged kids and adults in attendance too.
Wallows is the brainchild of Cole Preston, Braeden Lemasters and Dylan Minnette (“13 Reasons Why”). The band started releasing singles independently back in 2017 and quickly gained the attention of Atlantic Records. The band released their debut album, “Nothing Happens,” in March of this year.
This headlining tour started just after the band played both weekends of Coachella. The run of shows suffered an early setback after their tour bus caught fire en route to a show in Tulsa, Arizona. Luckily, no one was hurt and they were able to continue the tour, only missing one show.
The music is not exactly what you would expect as a side project of a young actor on a hit YA show. It’s lo-fi alternative rock, something that isn’t necessarily en vogue right now. But, it is really great music. The band writes solid hooks with clever lyrics that approach young love with a skeptical gaze.
On stage, the music comes alive in a way that shows you that they all take music seriously. This is not a side project for Minette to pull more attention from his fans, this is a project that he is committed to and passionate about. The band performed their recent singles “Are You Bored Yet?” and “Sidelines,” alongside their older songs like “These Days” and “Pleaser.”
For their live set up, the trio is joined by two bandmates, one on bass and another on keys and trumpet. Minnette and Lemasters traded off singing lead vocals throughout the show. Though their recordings could lead you to be a little wary of their actual vocal ability, the live performance proves them to be quite competent vocalists.
The crowd was moving and singing along throughout the whole show. There was an especially impassioned sing-along to the chorus of “Scrawny.” I even spotted a couple parents who couldn’t help mouthing the refrain “scrawny m—–f—er with a cool hairstyle.”
Wallows is definitely a band on the rise and one to keep your ears open for. Give their debut album “Nothing Happens” a listen, available now on all streaming platforms.