Oh Wonder’s Ultralife

in Technicolour

 

The stage was set.

    Two huge symbols dominated the stage. Behind the symbols, the LED screen lit up in zig-zag red lines complementing the symbols that were lit in also the same shade of red. O and W–the two symbols that represented the name of the duo that was set to take the stage in only a few hours.

    After a few moments, the neon red lights changed to a different hue until they were finally turned off. These two symbols are the signature stage set-up of Oh Wonder’s performances. It’s a simple backdrop, but when lit up and synched together with the music, it creates this beautiful, hypnotic effect.

    Anthony West and Josephine Vander Gucht, the duo behind Oh Wonder, began writing songs together in 2014. In an interview, they shared how originally, the songs were for an online portfolio, so that they would get hired to write songs for other artists. Little did they know that their music would blow up internationally and fans would later on clamour for an album.

    Whereas a lot of artists take their personal experiences and turn them into songs, this was not the approach Oh Wonder took with their first album. As the original goal was to pitch these songs for other artists, they created storylines for each song. With the second album; however, they pulled on personal experiences. Their song “High on Humans” was inspired by Josephine’s encounters with strangers.

 

 

oh wonder live at ayala malls manila

    In 2016, Oh Wonder debuted on the Philippine stage as one of the performers at GoodVybes Festival. A year later, they were back for a solo show in Samsung Hall, which they said was one of their favourite performances. And only seven months later, they came back to Manila for a series of mall shows. Mall shows, as I’ve mentioned before, are one of the five types of concerts you should experience at least once in your life.

 

    For Oh Wonder’s third time in Manila, their mall tour was comprised of three shows. These three shows also kicked off their 2018 tour. After a successful leg with LANY’s mall shows last August, I was super excited to see that Ayala Malls and Karpos Multimedia were working together again for Oh Wonder’s mall tour. 

oh wonder live at ayala malls manila

    What I love about Oh Wonder’s music is its lyrical play. There are so many narratives and storylines explored in their music. While waiting for their first show of 2018, my friends were discussing about how there’s an Oh Wonder song perfect for any moment. The more I thought about it, the more it rung true. No matter the season, no matter what you’re feeling, whether that’s loneliness or love, there’s a song that will go with that moment.

    What I noticed from the two mall shows that I attended was the slow crowd build-up, but once the show began, people gravitated to the stage area. People were everywhere.

    As soon as the O and W symbols lit up on stage, the crowd screamed in anticipation. And finally, the show began. The light display intensified the emotion of the song, whether that’s a soulful, synth-infused ballad or an upbeat anthemic song.

    Experiencing their music live is something that any Oh Wonder fan must do. You’ll see how Anthony and Josephine’s personalities translate into the live experience, especially Josephine’s bubbly, energetic personality that’s infectious. Then there’s also the fun banter between them.

    As Josephine introduced themselves, she addressed the crowd in Filipino. “Kami ay Oh Wonder. Ako si Josephine at siya si Anthony. Masaya kami makabalik dito.” It’s lovely when artists make an effort to speak in Filipino even if it’s a few phrases. Bonus points for Oh Wonder for quite the spiel.

oh wonder live at ayala malls manila
oh wonder live at ayala malls manila

 

    In the two shows I was able to attend, I could feel the crowd’s love for Oh Wonder’s music. People would shout the lyrics back, and go crazy when songs they loved were played on stage. One of the fans beside me was clutching his hands over his chest while giving the duo an adoring stare. I caught Josephine grinning back at him. It was a sweet moment between a fan and an artist. Apart from that little moment, Anthony and Josephine kept smiling throughout the show—especially at the times when the crowd would sing the lyrics loud.

 

 

    Each mall show was different in terms of the setlist. In Greenbelt, they opened with “Dazzle”, but in U.P. Town Center and in Alabang Town Center, they opened with “Livewire”. For their second mall show, they also played “Shark” and “All We Do” while at their third and final show, they played “Body Gold”–the first song they wrote.

    As an introduction to what is a song about believing in yourself and your individuality, Josephine shared encouraging words. “Never let anybody tell you that you can’t do something.” As she spoke those words, I could feel her conviction. “You are infinite, and you are powerful. The world is yours if you just believe that everything is possible.” It’s so inspiring. Them living their dreams, their ultralife, is an example of the song come to life. And really, that feeling of being ultra is something Manila can attest to.

oh wonder live at ayala malls manila

Set list at Alabang Town Center:

Livewire
Without You
Lifetimes
Heavy
Shark
Landslide
High on Humans
Body Gold
All We Do
Lose It
Technicolor Beat
Ultralife
Drive

Did you catch Oh Wonder live at the Ayala malls?

I’m still reeling on the whole Oh Wonder live music experience. This is definitely something I’m documenting in my concert journal.

If you need help navigating the Philippine indie music scene, grab a copy of the Beginner’s Guide to the Philippine Indie Music Scene e-book. It lists down the bands you should know, ways to find gigs, as well as tips for when you explore the indie music scene. You can get a FREE preview of the e-book below:

 

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About the author

Izzy launched Days in Wonderland as an avenue for avid music fans and travel bugs to find inspiration. Days in Wonderland features concert photos and write-ups, song suggestions, interviews and travel guides.

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