Oh Wonder In Concert
Two weeks ago, the slow moving, R&B inspired duo Oh Wonder came to perform in Philadelphia and I made a Tuesday night trek to see them. One empty gas tank and a long drive later I am glad to say I made the trip. Thanks to the combustibility of the Internet, Oh Wonder’s tracks, which were uploaded to Soundcloud once a month, quickly gained traction from a group of devoted fans. Just one year after their first single, “Body Gold,” was released, the group began to book tour dates. Oh Wonder’s concert was originally scheduled to take place at Boot and Saddle, a small bar and music venue that features smaller, up-and-coming acts. But Oh Wonder, who quickly moved out of the realm of “newcomer”, sold out the venue in just a few seconds and the show was moved to Union Transfer.
An eclectic, mostly coupled-up crowd, wandered around Union Transfer with its beautifully high ceilings and over-priced bar. But once Oh Wonder’s gently flickering lights began, most of my surrounding became irrelevant. Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West were captivating. Their vocals were comparable to, if not better than, the recordings and the duo hit each electronic-flecked beat on their respective instruments with distinct precision. Behind them stood a hazy, barely visible, crowd of back-up instrumentalists, who like Josephine and Anthony, hit each note with meticulous care to create almost enchanting resonances.
Josephine and Anthony harmonized vocals echoed in perfect sync so you could barely tell the difference between them. For just over an hour, the duo’s reverberating harmonies wrapped around each other to create one layered tone, one complex noise.
Most of Oh Wonder’s performance consisted of tracks straight from their album. But the two performed a special, stripped-down edition of “Midnight Moon,” and it was perhaps even better than the original. Slowed-down guitar by Anthony and smooth vocals by Josephine were reminiscent of the original track, but with a leisurely pace and more personal sound. It also happened to be Anthony West’s birthday during the band’s Philadelphia performance, and the audience got a special “Happy Birthday” performance from Josephine.
Oh Wonder’s entire concert, from the splashes of lights that flashed impeccably with every vibration to the background instrumentals hidden in the hazy shadows of Oh Wonder’s hauntingly beautiful vocals, was even better than expected. In fact, I already have tickets to see the group again in August.