Wallows, the three-piece indie-rock band from Los Angeles, had one a heck of a pandemic.
The trio of Dylan Minnette (whom you may remember from 13 Reasons Why), Braeden Lemasters and Cole Preston had their single “Are You Bored Yet?” go double platinum, and they just released their sophomore LP, Tell Me That It’s Over.
The band, which played an early set in the Mojave tent back in 2019, has certainly outgrown that slot since then: This year, Wallows graduated to a near-5 p.m. Saturday slot at the Outdoor Theatre.
“I think, naturally, we knew that whenever we came back, it’d be some sort of better slot, but we didn’t really expect us to necessarily be bigger, and we are technically bigger than we were the last time we played,” Minnette said during a press trailer interview. “This is the first time having Wallows out in the wild (after) one of our songs’ successes, because it was during COVID when our song ‘Are You Bored Yet?’ started doing well. … Coming to Coachella, this is the first time where people just have a choice to come see us or not. It’s interesting to see the growth in crowd size.”
Wallows shared during their 2019 set that they had been attending the festival for years.
“Me and Dylan first went to the festival as fans back in 2011 when it was Kings of Leon, The Strokes, Kanye, and Arcade Fire,” said Preston during our interview. “I was in ninth-grade at the time, and it was truly the most mind-blowing set of headliners I could have ever asked for. It hit our demographic on the head. Braeden came in 2012, and we’ve all just been attending the festival ever since. … I don’t know if that really has changed how we approached playing our set. I think maybe it makes us sympathetic; we’re playing 4:40 on the Outdoor stage. I know what it’s like to stand in the audience and be like, ‘It’s so hot, but I love this band.’ We respect all the people in the audience who actually came out.”
A crowd was waiting for Wallows well before they were ready to start, despite the sun and the heat. The show kicked off with a piano intro as the stage background turned a bright blue. The band soon walked out to huge applause and many screams. They rocked through two songs off their new LP, “I Don’t Want to Talk” and “Especially You,” with the former featuring Minnette on harmonica.
“I think that ‘I Don’t Want to Talk’ and ‘Especially You,’ are, like, my favorites of the whole set,” Lemasters said during our interview. “People are just loving the songs, and I think that’s one of the highlights of the show. I’m less worried about what people say online as of recently, just because any project we’ve ever put out, or any project anyone’s ever put out, there’s like half and half: ‘This is great!’ or ‘What is this?’ … I think the best place to see how they are interpreted is live.”
The wind soon started picking up, offering a bit of relief to many of the hot attendees. “It’s, like, fucking Dune out here,” Minnette joked as he launched into the band’s debut single, “Pleaser.” Wallows continued to mix in new songs like “Marvelous” with selections from their first LP, Nothing Happens, like “Treacherous Doctor” and “Scrawny.”
“At a festival, the set is just a shorter, more-concise version of what we’re doing on the tour,” Preston said during our interview. “It is important to consider that people want to see you at a festival, because they want to hear songs that they potentially know from you, so playing new songs, as exciting as that might be for us in keeping it fresh—certainly a lot of people in the crowd are thinking, ‘When are they gonna play “Are You Bored Yet?”’ I think that in sequencing the set, we have been like a little bit mindful of that, and put some of that towards the end.”
As the band performed songs from 2021 EP Remote, Minnette found his way into the crowd, shouting the lyrics to a herd of screaming fans. The experimental nature of the band’s new material translated well to a live setting.
“Going into the process of recording, I had this idea that we needed to do it differently, but our producer said, ‘I want to highlight that you guys are a band playing instruments,’” Preston said during our interview. “That’s obviously not a lost art form, but it is more sparse nowadays. For the first few songs, it was the three of us getting in there—drums, bass, guitar—hitting record, and seeing what happens. That being the initial seed of us making it did kind of make it easy to then go and play the songs live. … Then we have six (musicians) live, not just us three, so I think we’re trying to make it sound like the record.”
Added Minnette: “I think the new songs live help give context. I’ve seen a lot of people be like, ‘Oh, I like these songs even more live.’ I like that they are working.”
Wallows rounded out the set with a series of hits from both their debut album and debut EP, Spring. The guitar chords of “Pictures of Girls” and “Remember When” reverberated throughout the festival before smash-hit “Are You Bored Yet?” had the entire Polo Grounds singing along.
“I’m still probably going to be a little nervous walking onstage, but, like, we know what it is now,” said Minnette during our interview. “It’s sort of the same thing in 2019: A bunch of shit went wrong in the first weekend that we adjusted in the second weekend, and a couple of things that went wrong last weekend should hopefully be adjusted today. I know what it looks like; I know what it feels like. I’m not nervous anymore. I’m just ready to just do it.”