Review: The Wrecks brought the heat to St. Paul’s Amsterdam Bar & Hall

LA-based indie pop punk band The Wrecks performed for a jubilant, buzzy crowd in St. Paul, supported by Mothé and girlhouse.

The+Wrecks+performed+at+the+Amsterdam+Bar+and+Hall+on+Thursday%2C+June+23.

Ray Shehadeh

The Wrecks performed at the Amsterdam Bar and Hall on Thursday, June 23.

by Bel Moran

On a June day weighed down with heat so thick no alt kid could truly thrive, LA-based indie pop punk band The Wrecks came to downtown St. Paul on their Better than Ever tour for a night of electricity, both figuratively and literally.

Still, those kids persisted in their clunkiest shoes, most threadbare band tees and dyed hair faded to every shade of pastel the human eye is capable of perceiving. They huddled onto the concrete floors of Amsterdam Bar and Hall, a cozy venue parallel to the Palace Theatre, indifferent about how much their footwear stuck to the ground approaching the stage.

The night kicked off with two openers, arty synth pop-rock artist Mothé and bubble grunge bedroom pop singer girlhouse, both infecting the audience with serene, flowing vibes as they ramped up the excitement for the night’s headliners.

Nick Anderson, the 27-year-old frontman, immediately brought the energy as The Wrecks bounced out in coordinating but purposefully mismatching jumpsuits, boiling over with anxious joy as they kicked off with “Out of Style” and its sharp riffs. The crowd welcomed the feverish energy, jumping and screaming along breathlessly as the temperature rose even in the air-conditioned joint.

Despite the usually warm venue, Anderson ricocheted across the stage to the beat, disheveled platinum hair flopping around his browline specs with every step and new enunciated lyric.

“You look pretty with my heart in the palm of your hand,” he sang before belting into the chorus, neck veins straining with practiced effort. Mothé returned to the stage to jam alongside The Wrecks, sporting a floral print Big Bud Press jumpsuit.

Audience members easily mirrored the band’s fervor, shaking the room with each jump, waving hands marked with X’s signifying their youth along to the melody. Those at the front hugged the stage, no barrier preventing them from giving gifts to the performers. One audience member gave up a vaguely phallic-looking light stick that Anderson insisted he would “use later,” brows raised with implication.

Continuing with their excellent crowd work, “Freaking Out” had fans lowering themselves to the ground then bounding back up as the song rose and fell. The show continued with a mix of older works from the mid-2010s and “Sonder,” their latest and second full-length studio album.

Anderson was soon left alone on the moodily-lit stage for a brief acoustic set, giving those in attendance a bit of a breather as he sang earnest, impassioned renditions of “Ugly Side” and “Normal” along with the soul-baring voices of the crowd, many pulling out their phone flashlights to light the room with an eerie glow. The rest of the band returned to the stage for the final bits, filling the venue with a bonfire singalong atmosphere.

Feeling that it was time to get the energy back up, the band did just that with “Fvck Somebody.” Anderson had the crowd hanging on every word he belted with the cheekiest grin. Gyrating with each step, he simultaneously hyped the crowd and showed off an impressive amount of breath control.

With each moment of setup and every change in instrument, the crowd erupted into chants for Trevor, an apparent roadie who fans knew by name. The band leaned into the Trevor love, giving the chant a bassline as one girl screamed, “I want you to have my babies, Trevor!”

The kinetic atmosphere continued as they performed “Where Are You Now?” a synthy rock ballad from their latest album, and the jaunty old favorite “James Dean.”

Deafening shouts for an encore erupted throughout the Amsterdam as Trevor stood alone on the darkened stage, fiddling with a guitar. As The Wrecks returned, feigning distaste at the crowd’s interest in someone who wasn’t them, Anderson jokingly asked, “Trevor, how much would we have to raise your salary to get you to sing this next song?”

The answer turned out to be not at all as the tech approached the mic with trepidation, smiling still. He and Anderson stood embracing, illuminated with joy, as they sang “Infinitely Ordinary” together into a shared microphone.

Anderson continued in the genuinely sweet, soppy moment as he expressed the band’s gratitude for their openers, photographer, sound guy, merch girl and even bassist Aaron Kelley’s mom, who apparently made the trip from Wisconsin to catch the show.

The night ended with the invigorating “Favorite Liar,” each band member in various states of undress after a sweaty performance, each still giving it their all even as the crowd took care of most of the lyrics.

As the venue lights turned back on, the night’s buzz lingered in the now empty air. Attendees filtered out into an equally electric summer night as heat lightning sparked against the navy evening sky.