Oh Wonder Performs New Song for Sold-Out Wiltern Crowd

Leslie Kalohi
Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West of Oh Wonder perform at the Wiltern in Los Angeles on Sept. 28, 2016.

As musicians from Radiohead to Oh Wonder experiment with new methods with which to release music, the latter garnered attention by releasing a new song on SoundCloud every month for a year. These catchy synthpop numbers, which have been streamed millions of times on SoundCloud and Spotify, ended up becoming Oh Wonder’s self-titled debut album, which was released just one year ago, peaking at No. 80 on the Billboard 200.

And what a difference a year makes.

On Wednesday, Anthony West and Josephine Vander Gucht headlined a sold-out show at the Wiltern, and West marveled: “Los Angeles, we played pretty much exactly a year ago, we played our first-ever American show … at the Troubadour. There was like 300 people, and I don’t understand how you’ve multiplied.” He added enthusiastically: “This is our biggest ever American show!”

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The increasing popularity of Oh Wonder is pretty easy to explain, as the London duo creates memorable, atmospheric music punctuated by the charming interplay of West’s and Gucht’s male-female vocals. The diverse array of songs also touch upon some jazz influences, with “Lose It” including a horn section and “Dazzle” inspiring performers and fans alike to finger-snap along. Add to that the fact that the musicians themselves are extremely likeable, displaying sincerely appreciative personas and repeatedly thanking the audience. 

When introducing “All We Do,” Gucht shared some positive thinking, telling fans: “I just want to say, guys, that when the tiny seeds of magic are inside you, whether they are goals you want to achieve or massive adventures you want to embark on, whoever you want to be, whatever you want to do, believe anything and everything is possible, because it really is. Believe in yourself and have faith in yourself. Dream big.” This segue to “All We Do” highlighted the song’s lyrics of exactly the opposite of her sentiment: “All we do is play it safe / All we do is live inside a cage.”

Before the end of the night, West and Gucht shared a love letter of sorts to the L.A. audience, with West declaring, “We’ve pretty much played every state in America, and California is still the one!” Gucht then added, “It’s our favorite place to eat! You guys have all the food!” West smiled and without missing a beat yelled, “Taco trucks!” 

Tonight’s show also featured a special treat for fans who had seen Oh Wonder before, because it was the first time new song “My Friends” was performed Stateside (the song made its debut earlier this month at London’s Roundhouse). Before performing it, Gucht explained, “It’s an acute privilege and a blessing to be able to travel the world and tour with our music. But the people that we have to leave behind, our friends and our family, [it’s] really hard.” The song itself, which begins with a slow piano melody, includes the repeated refrain “Like I was never there.” It’s an emotionally touching song (particularly the line “Oh, my friends, I am heavy”) that reflects the downsides of touring.

But with Oh Wonder’s growing success, and each subsequent L.A. show being booked at larger and larger venues, it doesn’t seem like the duo will be back at home anytime soon. Gucht told the audience: “Anthony and I started writing songs two years ago and we never expected to ever be playing live, let alone at the Wiltern in L.A.” She then added: “We’ll see you guys soon,” a promise to the uproarious applause at the end of the night.

Livewire
Dazzle
Lose It
Shark
Without You
All We Do
Landslide
Plans
My Friends
Heart Hope
Body Gold
Drive

Encore
Midnight Moon
Technicolour Beat