Little sister is all grown up.
Elliot and Natalie Bergman, better known as Wild Belle, played in front of an obliging crowd of over 100 at the Rex Theater Wednesday night. Natalie stepped onto the stage serendipitously adorned in black and yellow for the home crowd, her flaxen hair and golden bangles popping out against a sleek black dress and wide-brimmed hat. She stood front and center at the mic, her brother to the side, his tall frame half-hidden behind a wooden keyboard stand, next to his king-sized baritone sax.
With apologies to Elliot, the veteran performer of the two, the crowd came to hear – and see – Natalie. She looked like a young Stevie Nicks up there, earning a long-stemmed rose from one adoring female fan late in the set. Her sultry voice is even more irresistible live than on their debut album, Isles, from which the band played nearly every song during their brief, yet fulfilling, 45 minute performance.
The band didn't stray from their studio output, not even for a jam or two. Honey-soaked and soulful, Natalie's voice glided over Elliot's boss sax, groovy afro-beats and plucky thumb piano. (There was a shocking lack of ganja in the air for a band that cites Bob Marley as an influence.) Electric guitar added some welcome unrestraint to songs like “Another Girl” and “Happy Home.” If there's a criticism of Wild Belle it's that they're still searching for the “wild” part of their name; here's hoping for some more of that gritty guitar on the next album, as it fit in nicely with their already well-developed aesthetic.
On the group's last visit, in May, they played the more meager Thunderbird, in Lawrenceville. If they maintain this upward trajectory, who knows where they might end up on their next trip through town. Everyone in the crowd smiled and swayed with the beat, and went home happy. Isn't that what music's all about?
Saint Rich opened for Wild Belle. Steve Marion, nee Delicate Steve, singer Christian Peslak and crew look preternaturally young on stage, like a teenage Strokes. (Seriously, their bass player would get carded at Hot Topic.) Maybe the glut of hipster beards just makes the fresh-faced appear exceedingly youthful, but there was nothing adolescent about the band's sound. Check out their single, “Officer,” if you haven't already. Fans of the grown-up Strokes won't be disappointed.
-- B. Conway