As his bandmates approached their starting positions, Wolf Alice bassist Theo Ellis bounded across the dim stage inside Le Poisson Rouge, a claustrophobic venue on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, flapping his left arm upward in an attempt to pump the crowd. His obnoxious hypeman antics before the show’s launch represented one of the few times the London “it” band attempted to engage the audience during its 45-minute set. Instead, most of what passed for “connection” on this night were ear-bleeding decibels and spazzing performers – both jarring in their own rights.

At present, Wolf Alice, fronted by singer/screamer Ellie Rowsell, is the hot flavor of tea (musically speaking) in Britain. Witness, for example their debut My Love Is Cool rocketing to No. 2 on the British albums charts last week behind Florence + The Machine or their performance this past weekend at Glastonbury Festival, a week after their Le Poisson Rouge outing. Perhaps summing up both these developments, a drunken British bloke wearing a bowler hat and swimming goggles near me at Wolf Alice’s NYC show bounced around the entire set like an inebriated kangaroo, spilling his beer and dropping his Blackberry – yes, his Blackberry – in the midst of his reverie. Brits on both sides of the pond love Wolf Alice, and like most British phenomena, I don’t get it – at least not this rock quartet’s live show.

Wolf Alice took the stage at 8:30 p.m., an ungodly time for indoor concert that perhaps explained the influx of men wearing blazers to a summertime rock show. From the moment Ellis did his “Hey, look at me” routine taking the stage, the band’s sole intent seemed to be “get off the stage ASAP.” Stage banter and breaks in between songs were minimal. For the first 30 or so minutes of the FUCKING LOUD set I wondered three things:

1) Why the fuck am I losing hearing for this?
2) Is lead guitarist Joff Oddie’s right arm holding his instrument like a T-Rex on purpose?
3) Will my British kangaroo friend make it through the set without spilling his new beer on someone?

I never uncovered conclusive answers for the first two questions but am satisfied to report the man’s beer-spilling mishaps were limited to his clothes and the floor.

In their set’s waning minutes, Wolf Alice halted all my distracted, cynical thoughts at once, with four minutes of serenity in the form of “Blush,” a gorgeous number recalling fellow Brits The xx with its harmonized female-male vocals between Rowsell and drummer Joel Amey and atmospheric lead guitar. For the first time, Wolf Alice turned its volume below 11, Rowsell displayed vulnerability in her voice and Oddie and Ellis stopped jerking like ravers on Molly in an EDM tent. The band followed “Blush” with two more distinctive highlights – the celebratory ode to friendship “Bros” which appeared to send a surge of energy through the room and the grunge-inspired encore “Moaning Lisa Smile” in which Rowsell invited an ecstatic young woman from the crowd on-stage to scream the chorus with her. The latter moment offered the type of crowd engagement the set, as a whole, sorely lacked.

Its brief set complete, Wolf Alice mugged for the audience for a few ticks before departing the stage. Posturing is an area Wolf Alice excels, though on this night there were precious few reasons for the band or its fans to pump their fists or beat their chests (until near show’s end). Not unless, that is, you were drunk and British. In that case, the show might have qualified as the best night of your life.

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