Wild Child and Tall Heights Play Together at The Sinclair Tomorrow
Back in December, Austin-based band Wild Child played their first Boston gig at Great Scott, which was packed, to their surprise, despite the typical-for-us, but not-typical-for-them New England snowstorm outside. Led by founding members Kelsey Wilson and Alexander Beggins, the band stepped on stage barefoot, and later descended into the crowd to play an acoustic, sing-along version of their last song.
“You always have to try and think of what you’d want one of your favorite bands to do—anything that has a personal touch on it usually goes a long way for lasting memories,” said Beggins in a phone interview last week. “We loved Boston, and we’re really excited to go back. I remember the crowd being really fun and having a good time.”
Tomorrow, Wild Child returns to the Boston area, eager to headline a show at The Sinclair likely to be filled with the same fans that had given them a warm welcome on that cold night a few months ago, while their opening act, local duo Tall Heights, is eager to entertain a hometown crowd.
“Those homecomings are so refreshing and wonderful to play. Our last one was just so electric—we were high for a week from that show,” said Tall Heights’ Tim Harrington, speaking over the phone from his Somerville apartment. “It’s a labor of love when we’re talking about playing for our hometown crowd.”
From “Backseat Business School” to “Alo-hop”
For Wild Child, it all started in the back of a tour van, in what Wilson and Beggins refer to as “backseat business school.” Wilson, a classically trained violinist, and Beggins, a ukelele player in the midst of wrapping up his business studies at the University of Texas, were hired to play on tour with Danish folk band The Migrant, and Beggins, with blessings from his professors, brought his coursework on the road.
“Kelsey and I had this newfound friendship, and she was like, ‘Alright, well, we’ve got to get you to graduate,’ so on long drives, we’d go to the back of the van, and she’d quiz me, and we’d read case studies together,” said Beggins. “It was actually the most I learned all year.”
Along with a newfound friendship came a newfound musical collaboration that produced Pillow Talk, a first record put together in an unfurnished home studio with a write-as-you-go approach. For the second full-length effort, The Runaround, released last October, Wild Child took a more polished approach, collaborating with producer Ben Kweller and aiming to expand from a “ukelele boy-girl duo” to full-blown “alo-hop”—a self-coined term for their Hawaiian-meets-indie sound—with new band members, drummer Carey McGraw, cellist Sadie Wolfe, keyboardist Evan Magers, and electric bassist Chris D’Annunzio.
“Sometimes it’s just easier for people to relate to something that gets them up and dancing, so we were very cautious of that when we were writing and recording the second album,” said Beggins. “But that’s not to say that some of the sweeter songs aren’t in our set—people do enjoy those, and we enjoy those as well.”
For Tall Heights, meanwhile, it all started right here, on the streets of Boston—in Faneuil Hall Marketplace, to be exact, where childhood friends Tim Harrington and Paul Wright, both from Sturbridge, Mass., began busking in the summer of 2010.
“It was sort of like touring the world without ever leaving home,” said Harrington. “We found people there from all over the country and all over the world, and they continue to come out to shows wherever we travel. It was definitely a good place to get our feet wet.”
After “sweating profusely” over it in Harrington’s Somerville apartment, the folk duo released their first EP, Rafters, and soon, busking gave way to booking club shows and tours.
“It’s probably a story very much like the way most businesses start, in that opportunity led to more opportunity, and we just kept walking through open doors,” said Harrington.
Since that cornerstone summer, Tall Heights has released a first full-length album, Man of Stone, and played most venues in the city, from Club Passim to The Paradise. As for their next steps, they have their hopes set on the Somerville Theatre.
“We’re Somerville boys, so we like to keep it on this side of the river,” said Harrington.
But still, when the weather is nice, Harrington and Wright will still occasionally pop into Faneuil Hall Marketplace and play.
“Street performing is a good way to keep roots,” said Harrington. “It’s the place where we can hit the re-start button and get back to what we do best.”
When the Two Come Together
Aside from a few Twitter interactions, Wild Child and Tall Heights had never met before kicking off their five-show run together last night in Philadelphia. But when they return here tomorrow night, Harrington promises a good time, joking about bringing plenty of face wash after hearing about Wilson’s pre-show face painting ritual—a result of her days as a nanny, and something Harrington considers “pretty super fly.” (Tall Heights’ pre-show ritual, if you were wondering, consists of either Harrington or Wright telling each other that he had just received a text from Barack Obama to relay a message that the other person is “the man.”)
As for after the show, Beggins was at a loss for plans, but Harrington has already given it some thought. Wild Child will be crashing on Tall Heights’ couches in Somerville, and the morning after, Harrington proposes a walk to Union Square Donuts—“because those donuts, they’ve got to be the best in the country”—and bloody marys at Highland Kitchen.
And as for the night of the show—“See, it’s pretty typical for us to end up at Border Café after shows in that neck of the woods, but I don’t know if I really want to bring a Texas band to our version of a Mexican restaurant… There’s no way that Border Café does Tex-Mex better than Austin, Texas does,” said Harrington. “Maybe we’ll just go to the kitchen at The Sinclair. I think they give us a bottle of liquor, so we’ll be all right.”
Wild Child and Tall Heights play at The Sinclair, 52 Church St., Cambridge, tomorrow night, April 10. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased on ticketmaster.com.