Wayward at Ace Hotel
As any number of modern-day artists will attest, the ability to fuse together quintessential funk and the the trappings of ambient electronica is fairly unremarkable in the digital age. Creating a convincing synthesis in a live setting, however, is another challenge altogether, and it’s a challenge to which Wayward eagerly rise. That the stage is set with laptops and a keyboard alongside mic stands and a drum kit is indicative of the band’s ambitions, and any lasting doubts as to their intent are shattered in the opening salvo: Baile pairs unwavering drum machine beats with the gruff reverberations of the bass guitar, and soft keyboard harmony with bold, bombastic brass. It’s a crowd-pleaser, a true overture, and what follows is much the same.
The set ploughs on doggedly, without ever missing a beat, each element getting its chance to shine. Throughout Waver, the constant presence of the atmospheric bass accompaniment adds real emotion to what could otherwise become an exercise in logic or in following a formula. That same soulfulness clearly permeates Beth Aggett’s vocals in Belize, and the exquisite saxophone melodies of Love Jones, evidence enough that the essence of blues has survived the crossover into modern house. New track I Can’t Dance offers the most rewarding beat drop of the set, although the vocal loop track is reduced to an echo of static in the mix. If there’s one flaw in Wayward’s performance, it’s that the bass and drum parts, as well as the horn section, come through extremely strong, meaning the nuances of some other parts are drowned out into indistinct noise.
The evening closes to the sound of Marvin and a reprise of Baile, which seems especially justified after technical issues hampered the beginning of the set. Both tracks showcase the diverse range of sounds at Wayward’s disposal; the band, after being hidden at the back of the stage for much of the gig, finally seem to be having fun, and this passion is evident in the way they play. This second iteration of the opening track is far richer and more dynamic, the perfect way to conclude a very varied show. While it’s true that Wayward have a long way to go before they’re rivalling the likes of GoldFish and 65daysofstatic, if this set is any indication, it will be interesting to see what they do next.
Photos: Erol Birsen
For further information about Wayward and future events visit here.
Watch the video for Belize here: