The crash course: Welcome to Wanderland

The Temper Trap and Tully on Tully

I’m not going to Wanderland – that elusive first stab at an indie music festival here in the Philippines – tomorrow. Frankly, the line-up does nothing to me. But a bunch of you are, obviously, excited for this, you indie kids and indie kid wannabes, you. Evidently you know more about the line-up than I do. So, again, in an attempt to educate myself, I did another one of these crash course things… only to realize that I’ve probably heard most of these bands (or at least the foreign ones, since I’m focusing on them – although I haven’t heard of half of the local line-up either, a fact that severely dilutes my so-called reputation) during my many listens to Triple J, if not me knowing them altogether in some other life. Anyway, if you’re looking for the full line-up and schedule, you’re better off checking the (admittedly not user-friendly) Wanderland website, and I’ll hope that this thing becomes successful enough that they do it next year and it has a line-up that will capture my imagination. (And that the organizers won’t insist on mentioning their name in every. Promotional. Bit.)

   

“Perfect” by Colour Coding |  Colour Coding are cousins Chris Holland and Tim Commandeur, and they have been performing as a duo since 2011. They’ve released their debut EP, Proof, in 2011, and are busy gigging around Sydney (where they’re based) and, maybe, getting their first full-length album out. “Perfect” is arguably their best known single, having received some national airplay, but to me, they’re just cute cousins with derivative, by-the-numbers indie pop. And then I find out that, before they formed Colour Coding, they were part of the Aussie band Operator Please, whose song “Get What You Want” remains some sort of personal gem for me. (Chris wasn’t part of the line-up in that song, though.) They’re the first of the foreign bands to perform at Wanderland; their set begins at 16.00.

   

“Love Love Love” by Avalanche City | Now these guys, I’ve heard of. I’ve heard them on a bunch of British radio stations, not to mention the still-missed 99.5 RT. Dave Baxter heads the band: it started off as a solo project before he formed a band around him. Their 2011 album, Our New Life Above The Ground, was a much more massive success than he anticipated; he originally gave it away for free, but increasing success in New Zealand forced him to start selling. A good move, really, because his songs are the sort of things you’d hear in car commercials (and I’m pretty sure it has already), and people will pay for their brand of sunny folk-pop. Their set starts at 16.55.

   

“Naked” by Tully on Tully | Continuing with the folk-pop vein is Tully on Tully, another up-and-coming Aussie band (this time from Melbourne) with a penchant for the theatric – more Arcade Fire than Of Monsters and Men. Natalie Foster (you know, Tully) powers the band with her admittedly compelling vocals, going all out on “Naked”, their first single, and then going that odd mix of strong and vulnerable on their follow-up single “Stay”. As opposed to Colour Coding, I have a good feeling about these guys – at the very least they’ll crack the bottom half of the Hottest 100, unless “Stay” really blows up. Their set starts at 18.10.

   

“Weightless” by Nada Surf | Nada Surf are the veterans of the Wanderland line-up, having been together since 1992, when well-traveled New Yorkers Matthew Caws and Daniel Lorca decided to join up. Their 1996 debut High/Low became a hit thanks to single “Popular”, a passive-aggressive precursor of sorts to Glee, more or less. While they never had a follow-up as successful, they continue working to this day, a sort of American throwback indie ambassador to this electro-ed generation: my favorites from this band – the anthemic “Do It Again” and the poppy happy “I Like What You Say” come from this period. Their set starts at 20.20.

   

“Everybody Talks” by Neon Trees | Now, this band I don’t really feel. I don’t know. I heard “Animals” and felt annoyed. And then Glee covered it. And then I heard “Everybody Talks” and still felt annoyed. (And then Glee covered it.) This band always struck me as giddy, vapid power pop, but maybe I am being mean. There’s a bit of an odd circular thing about the band’s life: – they got a major record deal thanks to bassist Branden Campbell knowing the Killers’ Ronnie Vannucci Jr. in a previous band, and they got their name from the neon trees in an In-N-Out Burger sign, which happened to be installed by… Branden Campbell’s father. What’s with that guy? Anyway, their set starts at 21.35.

   

“Sweet Disposition” by the Temper Trap | Finally, the headliners. Of course I’m posting their biggest single (in my friend Mika’s words, “you can’t not post ‘Sweet Disposition'”) and you can see why: the band’s subtly sweeping sounds combined with Dougy Mandagi’s transcendental vocals make for an appealing (and TV ad-worthy) combination. Some have dismissed them as another Coldplay, especially after their second album, which didn’t seem to capture the collective imagination as much as the first. But they’re still successful, not just in Australia, but around the world. But of course you know that. You’re probably going to Wanderland for them! Their set – the last one of the night – starts at 23.05.

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