After more than a year of isolation and lack of live entertainment, audiences and musicians alike are itching for concerts. This week, Songbyrd Music House gives both a chance to relieve their music withdrawal with a double-header show by indie-rock band Wild Pink on September 13 and 14. Tickets are going quickly, with the second show already sold out.
Headlining with Wild Pink is Ratboys, a fellow indie-rock band which celebrated its 10-year anniversary back in April. The lead singer of the Chicago-based band, Julia Steiner, partnered with Wild Pink frontman John Ross on several tracks of Wild Pink’s third and latest album, “A Billion Little Lights.” Ross says he hopes Steiner will join him on stage, as the two bands go way back.
Hailed as “2021’s best rock album” by New York Magazine and “one of rock’s tiny masterpieces” by Billboard, “A Billion Little Lights” was written and arranged by Ross and produced, mixed and co-engineered by producer David Greenbaum, who’s worked with big names in rock such as Beck, U2, Cage The Elephant and Jenny Lewis.
As for Wild Pink itself, the band refers to their own sound as “a glistening variety of pastoral indie-rock akin to The War On Drugs, Death Cab For Cutie and Kurt Vile, but informed by classic American rock poets like Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty.”
Ross began writing “A Billion Little Lights” shortly after Wild Pink’s previous album, “Yolk In The Fur,” dropped in 2018. “Yolk In The Fur” closes out with a track about how complicated letting go of youth can be and ends on the repeating line, “I don’t know what happens next.”
“A Billion Little Lights” picks up where the previous record left off by expanding on its themes: exploring life’s uncertainties and asking the question “What the hell do I do with myself now?” — a universal experience felt by the masses during the indefinite global pandemic.
Although there’s no way Ross could’ve predicted the absolute chaos brought on by Covid when first writing the album, he hopes listeners can connect to “A Billion Little Lights” lyrics in whatever ways they find comforting — even if it’s not the exact meaning he originally intended to convey.
On his writing process, the frontman says “it all starts with an acoustic guitar.”
From there, he writes the lyrics and demos all of the different tracks and instruments on his laptop before stepping foot in the studio. Even though he’s had plenty of practice, Ross notes writing music actually takes him more time now than before.
“It takes longer each time, maybe several weeks each time. I’m trying not to repeat myself, and I want to make sure I like what I’m doing.”
And this is quite the feat, as the singer-songwriter says he’s been making music since he was 12 years old and experimenting with nu-metal riffs. His thoughtfulness and attention to detail is evident in “A Billion Little Lights.”
As NPR puts it: “Whether you’re a music-first or lyrics-first listener, Wild Pink makes music for you. ‘A Billion Little Lights,’ the Brooklyn trio’s third album, covers expansive terrain without losing any emotional impact.”
On Wild Pink’s sound, Pitchfork compliments the band for offering indie rock at its most familiar and instantly gratifying. About these high compliments, Ross says, “It feels great to know people are enjoying [the record]. I hope they like it so much they want to see it live.”
The shows at Songbyrd this week will kick off Wild Pink’s full U.S. tour with the band showcasing the tracks from “A Billion Little Lights,” as well as a few of their tried-and-true classics. Ross plans to start recording a new album with his band this fall once their tour ends in October.
As for playing on stage again, Ross is looking forward to performing for fans and hopefully introducing new listeners to his music. But most of all, he hopes everyone will stay safe out there.
“What I hope people take away from the show is that it’s a little bit of a break from how stressful it is right now with Covid. I hope everyone wears a mask, got vaccinated and will be as safe as possible at the show.”
Doors open at 7 p.m. on September 13 and 14. The show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 for both nights, but September 14 is sold out. All ages.
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