On Stage: Wild Child’s adventurous journey

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Wild Child

Wild Child’s itinerary for the recording of its new album “Expectations” was more adventurous – and featured more mileage – than many band’s full tours.

Area fans will get to hear the band’s new music live when Wild Child — Alexander Beggins, Kelsey Wilson, Sadie Wolfe, Matt Bradshaw, Tom Myers, Tyler Osmond, Cody Ackors – headlines a show at  Union Transfer (1026 Spring Garden Street, Philadelphia, 215-232-2100, www.utphilly.com) on December 5.

“Making the album was a long process,” said Beggins, during a phone interview last week. “With our past records, we nailed down one studio and used one producer. For this one, we took our time. We were touring and recording at the same time.

“We started in Philadelphia. We had Dr. Dog’s Scott McMicken producing the tracks and we recorded them at Dr. Dog’s warehouse studio. Then, we did some recording in Austin.”

For the sessions in their hometown, Beggins and his bandmates worked with of frequent tour mate Chris Boosahda (Shakey Graves), Atlantic Records recording artist Max Frost, and Grammy-winning producer Adrian Quesada (Groupo Fantasma, Brown Sabbath, Spanish Gold).

“The furthest we went to do recording was during our European tour,” said Beggings. “We recorded at a studio in Tromsø, Norway that is owned by Death Cab for Cutie’s Chris Walla.”

The next phase in the making of “Expectations” came when Matthew Logan Vasquez (Delta Spirit) set up a makeshift studio in Kelsey Wilson’s childhood home in Wimberley, Texas.

When it was finally completed, the recording of the album took place in seven very different studios — Electric Deluxe Recorders in Austin, Texas; Kysten Studio in Tromsø, Norway; Dirty Wilson Manor in Wimberley, Texas; Tchad Blake’s studio in Full Mongrel, Wales; Music Wiz Studio in Austin, Texas; House of Boo in Austin, Texas; and Mt. Slippery in Philadelphia.

Wild Child’s previous album releases were “Pillow Talk” in 2011, “The Runaround” in 2013, “Fools” in 2015.

“Our original intent was to release a song a month for a year,” said Beggins. “We wanted to get out of the album cycle.”

“Expectations” has been well-received by fans and has allowed Wild Child to achieve its strongest radio play yet, with lead single “Think It Over” reaching #15 on AAA. The band’s best-selling record to date has also led to 1.8 million monthly listeners on Spotify, and over 75 Million aggregate streams and counting on the service for the entire catalog.

“We were travelling so much and writing on the go,” said Beggins. “We sent songs out to producers and each producer picked separate tracks to work on.

“The biggest difference was that we let each producer influence the sound and the writing. It was a new approach. Whoever we were working with, we let them put their own spins on the songs.”

The result was arrangements that reflect the range of tastes of the producers — from scruffy lo-fi tape hiss to smoothed out precision-cut electronic pop sounds.

Surprisingly, with so much diversity in the approach, the album ended up with a cohesive feel.

“Having conformity was definitely a concern,” said Beggins. “When we got home, we wanted one person to mix all the tracks to get conformity. We did that, and it didn’t work very well. What happened was all the songs started to sound alike.

“So, we went back to the producers and asked each of them to mix the tracks they had worked on. When we finally got all the songs mixed and mastered, we were surprised at how well they worked together.”

Wild Child’s new approach was an experiment – a successful experiment.

According to Beggings, “We’re all growing and changing and learning new tricks.”

Now, Wild Child is hitting the road again – touring the South and the Northeast in November and December and the West and the Midwest in January.

“We’re playing most of the new songs in our live set,” said Beggins. “With four records, we used to do 25 per cent each. This tour, we’re doing eight or nine from ‘Expectations’ and peppering in some favorites from our older records.”

Video link for Wild Child — https://youtu.be/nvLzZKvPsUE.

The show at Union Transfer, which has Future Generations as the opening act, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $17.

The University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Center (3680 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, 215-898-3900, www.annenbergcenter.org) has made great strides in re-establishing its reputation as a “go to” place in Philadelphia for cutting-edge entertainment via a line-up of shows that feature groundbreaking dance companies, intriguing theater, avant-garde music and inspiring performance art.

A major factor in the venue’s resurgence was the arrival of a new Artistic Director. The Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts’ 2017-18 season was the first under the leadership of Executive and Artistic Director Christopher A. Gruits.

Caleb Teicher & Company

For fans of modern dance, the Annenberg has once again become a destination – especially with a winter line-up that features a series of performances by Jessica Lang Dance, Caleb Teicher & Company and Martha Graham Dance Company.

“We’re having a great season on all fronts,” said Gruits, during a recent phone interview. “A lot of what we’re trying to do is invigorate the contemporary history and profile of the Annenberg Center.

“Jessica Lang has a long history with Philadelphia’s Next Move Dance. And, she’s a Bucks County native. The Jessica Lang Dance program is pretty varied program with group pieces, a solo piece and a world premiere of a larger piece.”

Jessica Lang

The line-up for Lang’s program features “Solo Bach,” “Aria 1,” ‘glow,” “us/we,” and “This Thing Called Love.”

“It’s special now that she’s closing her company down,” said Gruits. “It’s a tough market for a lot of dance companies. She wants to focus her individual artists’ work.”

On November 19, Jessica Lang Dance and Selby Artists Management announced that after the incredible success of the last seven years, Jessica Lang Dance has decided to close on April 30, 2019, which is the end of its 19-city, 2018-19 season. Lang will continue her creative work as a choreographer, working with companies around the world.

“Historically, Annenberg and Next Move together really built a solid audience,” said Gruits. “As a result, it’s been a major market for modern dance. Our season schedule is a nice mix.

“We bring in companies from all over the world — and good local companies like Ballet X and Philadanco. In December, we have a great show with Caleb Teicher & Company.”

Tap, jazz and swing combine in the radiant choreography of Caleb Teicher, whom The New Yorker described as “one of the brightest lights in tap today.” A founding member of Dorrance Dance, Teicher was selected as a recent Dance Magazine “Best Emerging Choreographer.”

In the show at the Annenberg Center, Teicher’s signature style of musicality, humor and warmth will shine as the company shares about the history and choreography of tap dance before performing Variations, a piece set to Johann Sebastian Bach’s timeless Goldberg Variations.

“Another great show on our schedule is Martha Graham Dance Company’s ‘EVE Project,’” said Gruits. “The project celebrates 100 years of women’s vote and features female choreographers exclusively.”

The Martha Graham Dance Company is one of the oldest and most celebrated contemporary dance companies on the planet. In “EVE Project,” this iconic troupe stays true to Graham’s tradition of social activism with a program by all female choreographers commemorating the upcoming centennial of the 19th Amendment.

The Annenberg show will feature the powerful Philadelphia premiere of “Chronicle” by Graham, as well as the first preview performance of a new work by contemporary superstars Maxine Doyle and Bobbi Jene Smith.

Other dance programs in Annenberg’s 2018-2019 season are Dance Theatre of Harlem, Union Tanguera + Kate Weare Company, and Dance Heginbotham in March, Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers and BODYTRAFFIC in April, and SMIRK and Parsons Dance in May.

Video link for Caleb Teicher & Company — https://youtu.be/7ZPdyV8A1xo.

Upcoming Annenberg Center shows in December are Enchantment Theatre Company’s “The Snow Queen, The King’s Singers, The Crossing @ Christmas, and Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass.

For a complete list of shows at the Annenberg Center, go to www.annenbergcenter.org/events/.

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