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I fell in love with “Thunder Clatter” on the heels of a breakup. It’s a song about unexpectedly falling into an earth-shattering love. The idea that despite my own misery someone was feeling that kind of massive, consumptive, crushing force out there gave me hope I guess, so once I found it, I listened to it nonstop.

This was Wild Cub‘s second jaunt in San Francisco (the first being at Neck of the Woods last July). Recent signees to Mom + Pop, the boys flew out from hometown Nashville for the last Popscene of the year. Youth, their first release (which came out in 2012 and was subsequently re-released after their signing earlier this year) is, at its core, tropic pop delivered through a Nashville folk filter. Keegan DeWitt, the band’s co-founder and multi-instrumentalist, composes film scores on the side, and that predisposition to creating drama and scope lends to their dynamic live show.


Besides Youth‘s more ebullient tracks, Wild Cub revived a couple covers. The first, Lykke Li’s “I Follow Rivers” (which recently experienced a resurgence thanks to Blue Is the Warmest Colour) matched the original’s tone and vibrance but with an unmistakably Wild Cub feel.


Wild-eyed, and working through the aforementioned cuts from Youth, like “Jonti” and “Wishing Well”, DeWitt often paused to tell the audience just how happy he was to be there. Launching into “Thunder Clatter”, the room clamored along with the percussive thump and rolling melody lines—a reaction proving Wild Cub’s popularity has only grown since the summer. The audience was enamored. How could they not be? The song is love.

For the encore (where DeWitt decided to skip the formalities and tell the audience they would be skipping that hide-behind-the-curtain-as-the-audience-applauds bullshit), the quintet launched into a tropically-tempered take on Prince’s “When Doves Cry”. Prince-purists might have disapproved, but I was impressed by their taking on of a classic song, and making it their own. It’s the mark of true self-awareness.