“The idea behind Youth had a lot to do with me suddenly getting married. Ever since I can remember… the thing that I was compelled by, was the bond that two people can share, how strange and elusive and compelling that is,” Wild Cub frontman Keegan DeWitt told Paste Magazine last August. Wild Cub may be at their first SXSW this year (DeWitt and multi-instrumentalist Jeremy Bullock have only been playing shows together as Wild Cub since summer 2012), but they’ve been chasing that elusive partnership for years as musicians in Nashville. With deep bass grooves, emotive synthesizers, sparkling guitars, powerful percussion and DeWitt’s intense, yearning vocals, Wild Cub’s music has a timeless joy and romanticism that would fit just as well in a rock or dance club today as it would in a John Hughes film in the 80s. Even though we had Wild Cub live in-studio at KEXP last month, we knew they’d be in high-demand after SXSW so we wanted to include them in our broadcast here as well.
And of course, we were not disappointed! Performing as a five-piece, Wild Cub transformed Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop into a dance club the instant they launched into their opening number “Thunder Clatter” – the bouncy, melodic, sing-along single that has grabbed the attention of KEXP listeners and DJs this spring. DeWitt never stopped moving as he switched between guitars and percussion, backed by co-founder and multi-instrumentalist Jeremy Bullock, and newly-added members Eric Wilson (keys/synths), Harry West (bass), and Dabney Morris (drums). At one point, three of the five members were pounding on various percussion instruments, creating an uplifting, transcendent feeling in the crowd. But it did not stop there, the fun and funk kept up their for their entire 30 minute set, winning over fans with their infectious sing-along sounds. Their finale, “Summer Fires,” took the dancing from a smoking and simmering level to an all-out inferno, with their catchy dance-rock drawing on all their musical influences to send the crowd off on a high note. Maybe, just maybe, Wild Cub’s tight creative bond has finally achieved DeWitt’s goal of sounding like love. Because we surely love them.