The Feldman Ballroom was filled, with both undergrads and the machine-generated fog, but the sarcasm from New York band Bailen cut through easily.
“You guys go to a very intellectual school, or else The Chainsmokers would be here.”
Bailen opened Yellowjacket Weekend’s show on Saturday with staggered drums and melodies reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac. But once they got to the sixth song in their set, some in the crowd let out audible sighs. It was clear what had really brought the audience in: Oh Wonder, the indie- pop duo consisting of London’s Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West.
People shifted in their spots, danced awkwardly to the filler music coming from the ballroom’s speakers, or moved toward the bathroom in droves. And then the lights went off. Almost as if it was bouncing off the crowd’s energy, a vocoder-filtered voice asked on loop, “Rochester, are you ready?”
Rochester was ready.
Oh Wonder walked out to the sound of the booming, staticky bass, and launched into their set, treating the audience to songs both new and old, including “Dazzle” and “Without You,” two soft-pop tracks textured by piano hooks.
Once they paused to address the audience, Gucht looked around the sliver of campus in disbelief. “I want to live here — it’s insane. You guys have, like, everything. You have snacks.”
Her enthusiasm for the school (and excitement about the snacks) was soon reflected musically as the band moved into playing more high-energy songs from their latest release, “Ultralife,” which features a more elaborate, disco-infused instrumentation.
The crowd jumped and bobbed in time to the strobing colored stage lights, shouting out during the light, bubbly “Ultralife,” and putting their “hands up for a miracle”, as requested in the lyrics of the pop cousin of Frank Ocean’s “Super Rich Kids” — “Lifetimes.”
Before launching into “All We Do,” one of the band’s most popular releases, Gucht turned to the crowd again, mood changing slightly as she paced the stage.
“If there’s anything you want to do, anyone you want to be, anywhere you want to go, just listen to yourself,” Gucht said.
The cluster of undergrads at the foot of the stage peered up at her eagerly.
“Having faith in yourself is the most important thing.”
They then moved into “Livewire,” which provided a slow, blossoming transition from life-pondering to bass-thumping, the latter delivered by the subtly clunky “Lose It.”
After “Landslide,” Gucht paused to laugh. Lil Uzi Vert fans might recognize pieces of “Landslide” in “The Way Life Goes,” which samples the song that otherwise is very much not trap.
“It’s just gone No. 1 in the U.S. today, so we’ve inadvertently found ourselves No. 1 in the U.S. with this man singing about cheese and his wet babes,” Gucht said, amusing both herself and West, who stood at the keyboard beside her. “It’s so lovely to celebrate this with you.”
As the set wound down, Oh Wonder came out enthusiastically with “Overgrown,” a song off their new album that they had previously never played anywhere else.
“This song is about being there for people, even when they’re not feeling their best selves, I suppose,” Gucht said.
The song’s unifying message was then seen in the audience’s reaction to “Body Gold,” the band’s first-ever release, which, naturally, lowered everyone’s inhibitions even further into one giant, word-for-word singalong.
Right before the show’s end, as Gucht and West stood beside each other in the same positions they had started in, Gucht explained that this had been the band’s first college concert, and would be the last show before they embark on a seven-week U.S. tour.
Gucht called the send-off the “best show we could have asked for,” and as the audience danced, their faces illuminated by fog-filtered light, it seemed that Yellowjacket Weekend agreed.