Wilder Woods Brings The Energy To The Legendary 9:30 Club
What’s going on everyone! It’s Derek here, back at it again but this time coming at you from Washington, DC. In this case, from the very well known and legendary 9:30 Club. This evening in particular it played host to the one and only Bear Rinehart. If that name doesn’t sound familiar I’m sure his voice would. Normally playing the role of lead singer in the band NEEDTOBREATHE, just this year he introduced us to his solo project and alias known as Wilder Woods. The name sources from Bear’s two sons Wilder and Woods.
Upon arriving at the 9:30 Club you are immediately thrust back in time and introduced to the history of the building as the outside has no noticeable signage and ultimately looks like an older warehouse with a blue box office accent on the corner. Within there are parts of the building that hold onto its age and features some gritty concrete walls that have been painted over numerous times, while other walls have a more modern look. You can’t help but to think of the stories the walls have and the acts they have heard over the years.
One of those acts being the Rodrick Cliche & Four20s. Starting the night off, they got the building grooving real quick as they introduced themselves as a band that can hit the rewind button and bring you back to the record store days as they act as a live jukebox. Throwing songs at us such as “Africa” by Toto, “Blackbird” by The Beatles even going as far to include the Rocky theme song it was awesome to blend what some DJs do but with a live band that brought some great personality. After going through bits and pieces of songs from years past Rodrick took a moment to introduce the first and only original song they would play that evening, titled “Jealous”. Having some fun before they started the song they told the crowd we “hope you dig it, if you don’t just be silent” which got a laugh from the crowd.
It was a song that got us all grooving even more than before as the bodies started swaying and the feet started tapping. Before they wrapped up their set they wanted to make sure the audience was ready for Wilder Woods and seeing as they also play the part of his band as well, they kicked the funk up to 11. The audience wanted and we got it, that straight “nasty funk”. It was that kind of slap the bass, make you slap yo mama kind of funk and it was a wonderful way to get us all amped up for the main act following shortly after.
Upon the stage throughout the night, there lied a cloth in the center of the stage surrounded by four lighting strips all placed in a square and pointed toward the center. Just before 9 pm, this cloth was removed to reveal a white shag rug and then a stagehand did something that added an extra level to the set… incenses. The aroma then began to fill the room, creating a wooded home type vibe. Then it was time to begin.
As the band returned to the stage we heard “There Is” by The Dells as the crowd started to cheer and the band took their places you could feel the excitement in the air. Then the lights came up and onto the stage walked Bear a.k.a Wilder Woods and the ladies in the crowd vocalized their enthusiasm. In the center of the stage placed just in front of the shiny glitter curtain that acted as a backdrop for the night was a large “W” that began to glow as they kicked off the set and they let the “Light Shine In”. It is a song that starts slow and gradually builds up and acted as the perfect way to kick things off.
Soon after, the keyboard accented the room as the sounds of “Feel” got us all feeling real good. Even Bear himself had the energy flowing through him as he would jump up on the monitors at the edge of the stage throughout the evening to get closer to the crowd. From the full-throttle moments to the slower ballad of “Someday Soon” you couldn’t help but to realize the amount of pure connection he has to each song. This song, in particular, gives you a sense of true emotion and vulnerability that can be hard to find.
As we continued throughout the evening not only did we get every song from the self-titled ‘Wilder Woods’ but we also got treated to a few covers that tied in as well. Such as “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley meshed with Tom Petty’s “Mary Janes Last Dance”. The raspy voice of Bear brought these songs to a whole other level that you never knew you needed, made all the better by the insanely talented Four20s. There were so many moments that stood out from the evening such as the jokes Bear would make in between songs as he provided some anecdotes about how some of the songs were created. One, in particular, was the story of his wife, Mary. Who was “not very overwhelmed” the first time she heard “Mary, You’re Wrong” but has since come to love it.
However, nothing stood out quite as much as the song “Religion”. It was a moment in which only Bear remained on stage and he opted to not use any microphones. He stood upon the monitor and the room fell silent as the raw vocals drifted through the air. It did something that very few concerts do… make you feel truly connected with the artist and the audience around you. Especially when during the last chorus you all come together and play the part of the choir that just sounded so damn beautiful.
For an album that was released just one month ago, the entire audience knew the words to each song throughout the night. We danced together as Bear did as well (even though a few years ago you would never have caught him dancing) and we ultimately came together for a mutual love, that love being music. Everyone that was on the stage left it all on the stage and you should make sure to catch them at one of the stops running through the U.S. throughout September and into October before making their way overseas later this fall.
It wasn’t until after the show that I truly thought to myself, that in the nation’s capital on a day that marked the 18th anniversary of one of the darkest days in recent history… there is still love, there is still a community and there is still music. It brings us together and it helps heal. Share a song with someone, dance like no one is watching and go to that concert you’ve been wanting to. Maybe we’ll see you there.
If you happened to capture any shots of the night, feel free to tag us on social media as Shutter 16 Magazine and throw in #TwitFromThePit for the world to see.