On Monday, Oct. 7, Wilder Woods played his debut LA show at The Troubadour in West Hollywood.
Woods is the project of singer-songwriter Bear Rinehart, previously known as the founder and leader of rock outfit Needtobreathe.
The show was opened by funk outfit Rodrick Cliche & Four 20s, who played groovy covers of The Beatles’ “Blackbird,” Carpenters’ “Close to You,” along with some of their own songs. Their vocoder-heavy jams and playful banter with the crowd kicked things off as they waited on the headliner to grace the stage.
The group’s original tunes were delightful—flooded with themes of love—leader Cliche admitted to the crowd. Cliche appreciates how love can bring out strong emotions of all varieties, from ugly jealousy to heartwarming sacrifices, and his music reflects that with a tasteful flair that’s nostalgic without being reductive.
After their set, Cliche & Four 20s stayed by Woods’ side as his backing band, adding extra flavor to Woods’ slick modern soul-pop concoction.
Arriving on stage with a brightly-lit gold “W” behind him, Woods showed off his Elvis-inspired black blazer and trouser combo embellished with rhinestones. Woods carries the energy and bravado of a rock star, which is no surprise given his background. But his songs are surprisingly radio-friendly given his edginess.
His debut album under the name Wilder Woods—a nod to his two sons Wilder and Woods—nods heavily to soul, '80s R&B, and even folk and country music. The interesting blend of styles made for a surprising and dynamic set.
His affinity for the past doesn’t always work to his favor though, like for example on “Mary, You’re Wrong,” which is distractingly similar to Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing,” Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud,” and John Mayer’s “Waiting on the World to Change,” (especially with its guitar solo) all at the same time. For the most part, the record suffers from being too comfortable making new songs out of existing ones, but Woods has the energy to bring new life to them when he’s up on stage.
Along with singing to his own soul-inspired tunes, Woods broke out his guitar for a couple more intimate moments, like “Someday Soon,” which he revealed was inspired by his relationship with his wife and kids who also served as a major inspiration for most of his record.
Wilder Woods' following, based on the crowd at The Troubadour, leans more mature and settled down. A lot of couples seemed to be transported through his personal songs about his marriage and children. Souls who once too, lived wilder times, and were hungry for a night of both escape and comfort, which they certainly got with Woods.
With this more sentimental mindset, there were a couple of more corny moments. Woods unabashedly fit in absurd tiny covers to Ginuwine’s “Pony” and Sly & The Family Stone’s “Dance to the Music” in between his songs, to the delight of the crowd.
Woods wrapped up his energetic set with an encore of “Religion,” an acoustic number he played without a microphone, standing on the edge of the stage and pouring his heart out to showgoers. He wrapped things up with his soulful hit “Supply and Demand,” for which he jumped into the crowd to sing and greet his adoring fans.
With his soulful swagger, Woods dominated The Troubadour and gave many a lovely night they’ll never forget.