REVIEW: Oh Wonder satisfies true potential

Maintaining the ever-so-subtle balancing act between lush pop balladry and intricate indie singalongs, the London-based alt-pop duo Oh Wonder demonstrated true versatility during their concert at the Shrine Auditorium on Wednesday night.

Performing a selection of tracks from their 2015 self-titled debut album, as well as their 2017 album Ultralife, Oh Wonder gave attendees an all-encompassing taste of their complete discography. With fan favorites including “Drive” and “Lose It” receiving screams of adoration echoing throughout a crowd of 4,000 people, Oh Wonder left little to be desired.

Backed by a live drummer and bassist, as well as an elaborate array of lighting displays, the duo — comprising vocalists Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West — exhibited genuine showmanship, withholding the audience’s unwavering attention throughout the 75-minute set. Countering the synth-heavy and down-tempo duo-arrangement of “Waste,” with the upbeat, full band performance of “Body Gold,” Oh Wonder’s carefully executed shift in dynamics consistently kept the audience on its toes.

Since playing their first ever gig outside of the U.K. at West Hollywood’s 500-person club, the Troubadour, only two years ago, the momentousness of Wednesday evening’s show was evident throughout Oh Wonder’s set. Performing in front of a nearly sold-out Shrine crowd, the band’s growth in popularity, as well as in musicianship, was on clear display.

“After two years of touring, somehow, you’ve multiplied in size to fill the Shrine,” Vander Gucht enthusiastically announced to the audience.

Expressing gratitude for this remarkable and unlikely feat, Vander Gucht reminisced on the group’s humble beginnings.

“We never thought it would get any better than that, and somehow this evening, it just has,” he said.

Before launching into a sparse arrangement of the piano-driven ballad, “All We Do,” — one of the evening’s many poignant moments — Vander Gucht recollected upon Oh Wonder’s past once more and offered words of wisdom to those in attendance.

“Anything that you guys think is entirely impossible, that is out of your reach, all of that stuff is entirely irrelevant,” Vander Gucht said. “If we can somehow end up at the other side of the world singing in front of 4,000 people, you can do anything.”

Before exiting the stage for a final time, Oh Wonder left fans with parting words that alluded to their future plans: they announced that they will be returning to Los Angeles for six weeks in January to record their third studio album.

“We can’t wait to come hang out in this amazing city and be inspired by all of you,” Vander Gucht said, beaming with excitement.

Showing profound appreciation for the city that helped propel them on their path to stardom, Oh Wonder thanked the crowd one last time before closing the show with their 2017 album title-track “Ultralife” and 2015 seminal hit “Drive.” While Oh Wonder may have reached what many would deem the pinnacle of a band’s career — a packed house at the historic Shrine Auditorium — Wednesday evening’s set proved that they are just now getting started. 

Satisfying their true headlining potential, Oh Wonder’s performance furthered their status as an alt-pop force to be reckoned with — a force that is here to stay.