The Tractor Tavern billed its Wednesday show as “Indie Night,” which isn’t quite descriptive enough for our purposes. Sonic earthquake would be more accurate.
It’s not rare to find bands that are loud, but catching two groups on opposite ends of the Wall of Sound spectrum was a treat. First up was the nuanced avalanche of sound from Nashville, the Apache Relay, and the satisfying jangle of “Growing Pains,” from the band’s 2014 self-titled album.
“Sets Me Free,” from the Apache Relay’s 2011 debut “American Nomad,” showed the direction the band is headed in. On the record, the song is a pretty tame mid-tempo tune, but the sextet turned it into a southern blues rock showcase on Wednesday just by adjusting the tempo and intensity.
Another new song, “Katie Queen of Tennessee,” was easy to like thanks to its breezy throwback style but maintained an edge by ditching the violin from the recording for more propulsive keyboard. They closed things down with the soulful, layered “Watering Hole,” which featured some killer work from lead guitarist Mike Harris.
If the Apache Relay focused on the layered, Phil Spector approach to creating an imposing sonic barrier, the Lonely Wild had a much more direct approach. Using guttural howls, gunshot snare drums and thudding basslines, they built one frenetic blast of energy after another.
“Everything You Need,” featuring assertive drums and bright trumpets, announced the band’s intentions. After using the song’s tribal groove to establish themselves, they shifted gears with “The Sun As It Comes,” the title track off their 2013 debut album.
The band showed off a new tune, “Hunted,” which returned them to the frenetic pace of their opening number and provided a nice vocal highlight for frontman Andrew Carroll, who proved that his voice can soar when needed.
“Over Edgeware,” about the band’s Echo Park neighborhood in Los Angeles, was another chance for Carroll to shine — and another chance for the assault of guitar, drums and trumpets to reach its apex. The Lonely Wild seemed to specialize on almost coming unglued before bringing things together for a satisfying conclusion, like on their new anthem “Chasing White Light,” and their closing number “Buried in the Murder.”
The power of the band’s ability to wind its way along the narrow path of control was especially apparent on “Buried,” when howls from all five members played against drummer Dave Farina’s insistent snare attack as the song reached its climax.
It was a moment that, like much of the night, threatened to overwhelm the senses before concluding with a satisfying grace and beauty. The only misstep was the band’s decision to honor a request to play “Banks and Ballrooms,” which sounded a little rough and out of place, especially given how sharp they were otherwise.
That’s a minor complaint, the only other being that the Tractor crowd was pretty tame, even for a Wednesday. Soil and the Sun opened the show.
-Owen R. Smith, on Twitter @inanedetails