By Reese Ravner
Fresh to the alternative scene, Los Angeles-born indie rock band Wallows recently headlined the Observatory Orange County’s humble but treasured Constellation Room venue. Giant fluorescent palm trees and Christmas lights adorned the stage, and the room was filled with an unlikely fan-base considering the band’s Strokes-esque indie sound: pre-teens. This established group of supporters at such an early stage in the band’s career is surely thanks in part to vocalist and guitarist Dylan Minnette’s fame as the lead character in 13 Reasons Why on Netflix. However, the band’s engaging and genuine performance revealed beyond doubt that alternative indie music is spreading to younger generations for a reason.
The trio includes the aforementioned Dylan Minnette on guitar and vocals, accompanied by vocalist and guitarist Braeden Lemasters and drummer Cole Preston. Although they have only officially released two songs, the band played a full set of mainly original songs. Their sound is reminiscent of The Smiths, The Strokes, Cold War Kids, and The Vaccines, though they maintain a general upbeat, summery vibe—with a trumpet thrown into the mix on a couple of tunes. They saved their singles “Pleaser” and “Sun Tan” for the end of the show, with their already-dedicated admirers singing along to every word.
Retaking the stage after the classic “encore”-induced return, Minnette rhetorically asked the audience what they should play next. A request from the crowd determined the innovative cover that followed—a cover within a cover. The band began playing Violent Femmes’ “Blister in the Sun,” and halfway through, after a decrescendo into silence, they burst into “This Charming Man” by the Smiths, finishing with applause from the room. A few seconds later, they picked up right where they left off with “Blister in the Sun” and brought it to a close.
Wallows’ sound and style is unique yet nostalgic, perhaps wallowing in nostalgia for bands and music like that of which they covered at their show. Though young—just beginning their twenties—the group demonstrates a deep appreciation for classic alternative. Their growing following, regardless of its Hollywood origins, is well-deserved.