It’s no surprise to learn that Wand frontman Cory Hanson listens to Tangerine Dream, Fripp, and Eno. The band’s sound encompasses many genres, echoing elements of the heaviest Krautrock, the crunchiest garage, and the most melodic classic rock of the ’60s and ’70s. While those influences coalesce effortlessly on their albums—last year’s Ganglion Reef and the excellent new Golem—it’s live on stage that Wand really separates themselves from anyone else on the scene.
Put simply, Wand has dynamic range. They stomp and roar with the heaviest then, mid-song, get quiet and downright lovely… then stomp your neck again. Being a rock band from L.A. and boasting influences from psych to glam they must get tired of hearing it, but their music is the most striking and original of its kind since the Nothing’s Shocking days of pre-self parody Jane’s Addiction. Sure, Wand’s drumming avoids Stephen Perkins’ tribalisms and Hanson’s voice is more Beach Boy than banshee wail but those are differentiators, not criticisms. Wand combines giant riffs and tender interludes better than any band since Jane’s, and Jane’s did it better than any band since Led Zeppelin—quite a lineage. Wand’s live show makes this balancing act seem natural to them, and the audience at Doug Fir reacted with dropped jaws as often as applause.
Wand’s live set is visually unassuming: it’s four guys onstage, no projections or strobes or elaborate theatricality. Hanson is plenty animated but a Wand show is a pure music affair, and that’s enough.
-Eric Evans (words and photos)