Fresh off the Letterman show, Birmingham’s homegrown Wild Sweet Orange played to a sold-out crowd at Workplay in downtown Birmingham last Saturday. Amid the smell of lingering cigarette smoke brought in on the shirttails of the audience, and the mélange of sweat and aftershave from the dude curiously overheating in front of me, was the faintest scent of success. In addition to late night, the group’s had a track featured on Grey’s Anatomy and embarked on a nationwide tour that includes a stop in Chicago for Lollapalooza. Folks from the ‘ham, though, can say they knew them when . . .
Wild Sweet Orange has been a part of the local scene for some time. The members grew up in the same Birmingham suburb, and sat in the same pews on Sundays. The first iteration of the band came together in middle school.
For their CD release party this past Saturday, the crowd was pretty mellow. In well-worn Chuck Taylors and jeans like ’80s leggings, a few hipsters stood aloof along the periphery of the audience. Everyone else, a mix of homegrown fans and sun-kissed bohemians followed suit with only a few dancing or looking tangibly joyous. “Nobody’s really rockin’,” shouted one bemused fan to another. Aside from a few pockets of partiers who nodded their heads in-between sips of their Newcastles, the mood was chill, and if you asked anyone, “FREAKIN’ AWESOME.”
With a sound that’s been called Pete Yorn meets Nick Drake, front man Preston Lovinggood (yes, that’s right) belted tracks from the group’s latest, We Have Cause to Be Uneasy. In contrast to his voice, kind of nuanced and melancholy, was a lighting display that was positively Skittle-riffic. Blue, green and red lights washed the stage in intense color that could have moved the Vulcan from his perch. Though no statues unhinged or groove-offs broke out, the sense of good ‘ole b-ham pride was undeniable.