Allan Kuylen

Wilderado Brings All the Good Vibes to Charlotte

Allan Kuylen
Jun 23, 2024
5 min read

I would like to preface this article by mentioning that Wilderado is one of my top 3 favorite bands of all time. Therefore, know that what you are about to read comes with a substantial amount of bias and that it is entirely well-deserved.

It was the evening of Thursday, June 20th at The Underground (formerly known as The Fillmore) in Charlotte, North Carolina. People were pouring in with great excitement to see an act as marvelous and unique as Wilderado. It was a relatively smaller venue, but it was still packed out by the time the music was about to begin, all of which only added to the experience as anticipatory energy filled the room since every person there had a great view of the stage.

The clock struck 8:00 PM and the night kicked off on a bit of an unusual and unexpected note with Wilderado frontman Max Rainer coming out onstage by himself to say a few words to the audience, prefacing the opener that we were about to see – a British indie folk band known as Flyte. Rainer sang the praises of this band and admitted that a great amount of Wilderado’s influence came from listening to these guys. He said it was a dream come true to be touring with one of their favorite artists of all time, and asked that the audience listen and enjoy. The Flyte began to take the stage and he hugged each of the members as he headed offstage.

The influence was immediately evident and the vibe was set within their first three songs. The audience took to Flyte’s music very quickly and you could tell the venue was warmed up and itching to hear more by the time they wrapped up their set to make way for Wilderado.

Up next was the quartet we all came to see – Wilderado, hailing from Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Wilderado formed in 2015, several years after Rainer and lead guitarist Tyler Wimpee met through mutual friends in college. Drummer Justin Kila has remained part of the original lineup for the entire duration of the band’s existence. The band seems very content with their current bassist (whose identity remains quite elusive online), as I recall that he was brand new and supposedly just filling in the last time I saw them in October 2023, but now seems to have secured his tenure with the band. 

Their sound is often classified as indie folk, however there are also strong elements of rock, alternative, and country influence. In my opinion, a better description is tasteful nostalgia reminiscent of rural midwest Americana with pleasant notes of an impeccably moderate modern production sound. Their discography has something for every occasion, from head-banging rock energy to gentle acoustic + vocal tracks to cry to. Rainer sounds identical in a live setting as he does on their records, and that has everything to do with the raw talent he possesses combined with a production style that is not overcooked with digital effects/processing.

Compared to the last time I saw Wilderado, their stage presence was significantly improved; even with Rainer’s more chill style, he was speaking a lot more to the crowd and dancing around like I had never seen before. 

About a third of the way through their set, Rainer took a minute to explain to the audience the meaning of their upcoming new album, Talker. He explained that most musicians get on stage and want to use it to tell you something, but they instead take the approach of simply wanting to confess how they feel and hope that, in the process, it will connect with people who are listening. This album supposedly was a challenge for them to write, but it started really coming together when “...[they] admitted that [they] may not always have something to say, and that’s alright.”

The crowd continued to sing every word of every song the rest of the night, save for one they had just released two days prior called “Bad Luck”, but even that still had people thoroughly enjoying themselves. They ended their set by admitting that they’re too old to care about pretending to walk offstage and expect the crowd to encore them back on, instead opting to be upfront about when the night would be over (in two songs). I loved that and everyone else seemed to agree that this was the right move.

The fanbase is certainly loyal and dedicated, as it should be since this band is such a significant milestone in indie music. Wilderado is nothing short of a humble group of guys with the best vibes the indie music scene has ever seen.

Be on the lookout for their new album, Talker, which drops in September.

For more on Wilderado, check out the links below –

Spotify / Instagram / Website

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