Perfect weather, great music and a lively audience. That completed the scene for the Austin leg of the wildly popular Wild Rivers tour with opener Lindsey Lomis.
Five years ago, the members of Wild Rivers, Khalid Yassein (guitar, vocals, keys), Devan Glover (vocals), Andrew Oliver (guitar, bass) and Julien Laferriere (drums), attended a show at Austin’s Mohawk. Back then, they had a dream that one day they would perform on the stage themselves. On Sept. 23, they made that dream come true.
The folk-indie band is coming out with their second album, “Sidelines,” which will be released on Feb 4. While fans wait in anticipation, the band did preview a few of the songs that will be on the album at their Austin show. Singles such as “Long Time,” “Weatherman” and “Amsterdam” have already been released, co-produced by Peter Katis who worked with popular bands such as The National.
Opener Lindsey Lomis also impressed the audience with nothing but her amazing vocals and electric guitar. She explained that this was her first time in Austin, but her mom is a UT alum. Her parents were actually with her, as she is only 18 years old and this was her first ever tour. Songs such as “If the Whole World Went Blind” proved her deep lyricism and impressive vocal runs.
Wild Rivers won the crowd with hits from their previous EPs, 2018’s “Eighty-Eight” and 2020’s “Songs To Break Up To.” But hearing a few tracks from their upcoming album, we had to learn more about the inspiration behind the singles, which obviously have romantic influences, but also touch on the times we’re all living through in the midst of a pandemic.
When asked about the single “Weatherman,” Yassein says, “This song came out of a conversation we had about how you could never trust the weather forecast. It was kind of a funny idea that led us to talk about all the things in life that we see as a certainty, and how rarely things are really like that.” We all talk a lot about making plans and a deep desire for control and certainty in your life. Not only is this futile, says Yassein, but it also completely takes you out of the present. “It’s like that cliche, ‘life happens when you’re making other plans.’ “Weatherman” is a reminder to ourselves to appreciate the moment.”
Speaking of not being able to predict anything, the band never could’ve predicted the success they’ve had since they released their first album, “Wild Rivers.”
“We funded the album ourselves from money we made at bar gigs. None of us knew anything about making a record,” says Yassein “We had no team of any kind, we did all of the business stuff ourselves. I think we were just these wide eyed kids that didn’t know anything about the music industry, but we had this independent attitude and a chip on our shoulder.”
Then, when they started getting success on streaming and getting real fans, it made it all the better because they had done all the work. The vocalist remembers one of the first big shows they played in the US, in Chicago at a venue called Martyrs. “We came down from the green room and hundreds of people were there. We said to each other ‘What are they all doing here? There must be some other event going on.’ Then we played the show and everyone in the crowd sang along to all of our album songs. It was pretty incredible.”
What the Future Holds
This recognition continues on today, and the band continues to grow in popularity. One audience member said that she and her husband saw Wild Rivers perform in Colorado and liked them so much that they followed them to Austin on tour just to see them again. If a band can attract dedicated fans like that, they must be bound for success.
One of the tracks from their popular first album is titled “Paul Simon,” who they also name as one of their main influences, along with ‘70s singer/songwriters like Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and James Taylor. The band takes those inspirations and puts modern twists on them. “We try to take stuff from everywhere and try to bring it in, with the ultimate goal of serving these songs that are written in more of a traditional way,” Yassein says.
And what does the band’s hope for with their upcoming album? “World domination and no one to call us an underrated band anymore,” jokes Yassein. “In all seriousness, I hope and think it’s a record that fans will enjoy on the first listen, and then on more listens fall more and more in love with it.” It’s some of their best songwriting, he believes. And their most ambitious production. “There’s something for everyone on it, I’m curious to see what songs people like best.”
The crowd at Mohawk made it obvious that this goal would be accomplished, as they sang along to most every song and yelled for an encore. Singer Glover says that Austin was the best crowd, and Yassein agrees, adding, “No one has ever gone this hard for sad indie music.”
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Cover photo courtesy Wild Rivers
Gracie Watt is the Editorial Assistant at Texas Lifestyle Magazine and a senior at St. Edward’s University in Austin, studying Journalism. When she’s not writing, Watt enjoys singing, playing the guitar and doing volunteer work. @graciethatgirl