Festival Season Kicks Off in Dallas This Year for Austin's Wild Child
Alexander Beggins and Kelsey Wilson of Wild Child play Homegrown Fest this weekend.
Mark C. Austin
Alexander Beggins loves festival season, but he loves this year's more than most. Six years after starting his band, Wild Child, the vocalist and baritone ukulele player is looking forward to the seven-piece's biggest festival year to date.
"It seems like people care more in Dallas than they used to," Beggins said. He and Wild Child are touring in support of Fools, the album they released in October 2015. "By that I mean coming to the show and watching the music as the main event instead of coming to the show to have 10 beers."
After kicking things off at Homegrown this weekend — where they'll be one of 12 Texas acts to take the stage, including fellow Austinites Ghostland Observatory and Austin ex-pats Neon Indian —Wild Child will make the rounds at such big-name fests as Newport Folk, Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits.
"These festivals are almost like musical high school reunions," Beggins said. "We get to know these bands; we bump into them on the way into club restrooms all across the country. So it's good to come together and share the stage in this format. Time to knock off the dust and get ready for it."
Wild Child's sound fits right into the festival circuit, its orchestral diddies begging to be played outdoors (or at very least with windows rolled down) even as the band has moved away slightly from folk roots that pervaded its first two releases with Fools. Beggins said classifying Wild Child's sound has always been an issue, as the term 'indie pop' has spread into ubiquity almost to the point of losing all meaning.
"If you can think of something better, let me know," said Beggins, who once tried to coin the term 'Alohop' to describe Wild Child due to the prevalence of the ukulele in Hawaiian music. "That never really took off though and became more of an inside joke among the band members than anything."
What about granola-core? Just trying to be helpful here.
The single "Break Bones" most clearly points to Beggins' admission that Wild Child has migrated slightly from de facto folk status. The strings chop up the melody into short poppy bursts worthy of any top 40 vocalist while the track's soul, fed largely by Kelsey Wilson's effortlessly frank voice, imbues a longer shelf life.
Meanwhile, the "indie pop" moniker fits Fools' title track and lead single like your favorite horizontally striped v-neck, as the seven-piece band wields the tools of folk for more more hip-shaking purposes on a song that comes about as close to rocking out as Wild Child has yet approached. Wilson weaves lyrics about abandonment after her recent engagement ended less than optimally while she and Beggins were writing for Fools but still somehow comes off bubbling over with positivity.
"Early on I thought her vocal style was so effortless with that floating angelic voice," Beggins says. "It's just really, really natural."
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The duo's first few vocal lessons together last year gave them some insight into the unique harmonies they've shared with fans over the band's first three albums. "Your voice has two different natural registers," Beggins says. "Kelsey's in head voice all the time and I'm in chest voice all the time. It creates an eerie harmony between our voices, but it works."
That complementary, opposites-attract type dynamic pervades Beggins' and Wilsons' musical backgrounds and writing styles as well, which lends something to the Wild Child's cozy and approachable presence. Beggins was in punk bands while Wilson was being classically trained on the violin. Beggins brings playful naiveté, good for brainstorming, to the song-writing process while Wilson brings structure.
By the time Wild Child's festival tour gets back home to Austin in October, the band might already be embarking on another adventure: recording their next album.
"We'll be recording one song at a time all over the U.S. with some of our favorite bands and producers, and releasing them one track per month starting in August and going for a year," says Beggins. The record doesn't yet have a name, and Beggins can't say for sure who all they will collaborate with. Maybe they'll sort that out their high school reunions — er, festival stops. "We haven't decided what exactly to do at the end but all the tracks will end up on a record in summer 2017."
HOMEGROWN FEST with Ghostland Observatory, Neon Indian, Wild Child and more, takes place at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 14, Main Street Garden Park, 1900 Main St., homegrownfest.com, $35-$100.
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