Alison Wonderland reflects full vibrance on incoming album tour, Loner [Event Review]
Featured photo: Jess Williams.
I found myself back in Brooklyn, New York at the renowned Avant Gardner after a prolonged three-year-long hiatus. I hadn’t been to a live concert, large or small, since the global pandemic stirred up humanity in a strange way. It was longer than anyone would want to wait, but I thought it was interesting how life presents us with opportunities to reflect and grow during times of chaos and unexpected confusion. Like many others in the scene, I went into a self-induced “hermit mode” after many artists’ tours were suddenly canceled, which gave me the chance to re-focus on expanding my creative endeavors through music and digital art. Now that things are beginning to return with a sense of “new normal” and regularity, I feel encouraged and inspired to experience live music again as I continue to vibe into new states of conscious living.
The event which would bring me back into full view with the dance music scene came care of Alexandra Scholler. More widely known under her artistic alias Alison Wonderland, it was the Aussie superstar’s Loner tour, which has seen Scholler on the road over the past couple of months promoting her incoming studio album by the same name.
As I entered the venue, which was an industrial and an old-school rave setting, I was eager to dance to bass frequencies and pulsations of innovative electronic sounds. One thing I enjoy about events is getting the opportunity to also hear the sounds of artists I’ve never heard of before. Supporting talent, such as Evan Giia, brought about a lucid entry while she rocked out on stage. Prior to her hypnotic performance, a local producer/DJ kicked off the evening with a combination of grooves and exhilarating beats. I slowly made my way around the venue, using my breathwork as a sort of guide, I noticed a visual album cover displayed. As I sipped water throughout the evening, I synced into the flow of the crowd and engaged in genuine conversations, which naturally gave way to meeting several locals who’d come from all across the city’s five burrows.
Next thing you know, I started hearing more familiar tunes and smiled at coincidental symbolism. As I lounged and took deep breaths, I became more relaxed and meditative, a joyous uplift. As I awkwardly stood up and danced a little bit, I peeked out into the main general floor area which was being filled with a diverse crowd who seemed just as happy as I felt. Evan Giaa played next and unleashed some deep vibes. As we heard classics such as Nero‘s “Crush On You” I had a jilted memory flashback to my early inoculation into electronic sounds. She replaced Quiet Bison‘s set time and the night kept on going on.
I never cease to be endlessly curious about how Alison Wonderland opens up the live performance. Her feelings are always so raw and ever-present and those emotive ignitions are starkly reflected through her choice visuals. It is at this moment that I’m becoming increasingly curious if she plays a huge role in designing these visual experiences for us. I then remind myself that, like all great artists, there’s hardly ever an aspect of the live show that they don’t have a hand in coordinating. Certainly, this Aussie auteur is no different. She brought forth a wholly immersive visual experience to life, and imagery of life seemed to unfold on-screen as the crowd went wild. An observational listening shift happened as I was lounging, seeming a bit confused, and immediately got up and danced, swerving into the other side of the venue.
I’ve seen her play live quite a few times over the past couple of years—namely at major festivals like Electric Forest and world-class venues such as Red Rocks—so I felt as if I had a solid grasp on her live artistic aura and what she’s always conveying in her emotional undertones. Witnessing her many poignant peaks and valleys before, it’s almost certain to me that Scholler has been going through some turbulence.
This time, she didn’t open up with “Is it Good Enough” like when I was used to seeing from her years ago, though she would come into this string-led trap anthem later on in the evening. It’s a different feel with Alison Wonderland every time, which makes me appreciate how we come to recognize true art through flow. Sounds are always sort of stormy in the beginning, going in and out throughout the night, with heavier drops, and a sense of calm and relief that follows through as weaves between an unassured vulnerability and a sly savviness during the heavier moments. It was as if she had a secret that she was always about to let us in on.
I was eager to experience a shift into luminescence and continued to vibe, and as we went on, I felt highly ecstatic and elevated. I was just “going about my day” during the night, and my breath synced with a combination of intense liberation. The visuals were psychedelic to be sure, filled with rainbow hues stretching across the full visible light spectrum, a duality of light and dark, and spectral imagery. These electromagnetic hues were easily complemented by Wonderland’s special knack for tension and release as she sang some of her signature titles, including “Forever,” “Something Real,” and “Fear of Dying,” which flowed effortlessly into “Fuck U Love U” and “New Day” from her approaching musical release.
The song selection from Loner embraced elements of ambient, experimental, and trap frequencies throughout her immersive, cinematic journey. Along with her originals, we heard influential electronic classics by her friends and R&B/hip-hop staples in the music industry. The venue was packed as her tiny framed silhouette slid across the stage—seemingly flawless, almost angelic—with two live drummers from her band framing her with fast tempos. The drummers were clothed in white attire, which brought a heavenly and atmospheric liveliness to the stage that surpassed the darkness of Wonderland’s heavy-hitters. In this moment, it was clear: Alison Wonderland has returned to take us back down the rabbit hole. Just what she’s got in store down the line is shrouded in mystery. One thing feels certain though: her full-length release on May 6 is expected to be groundbreaking.
Alison Wonderland continues to evolve as an artist. Having announced her current tour earlier this year as: “I am not quite ready to share my album title or artwork yet,” she left us all wondering and anticipating her forthcoming release. This admission felt authentically in line with her vulnerable artistic spirit. In March, she officially announced her album title, LONER, along with “New Day.” Sholler continues to reemerge with her sounds, as we can hear through the singles which have been previously released this year such as “Fear of Dying” and “Forever“. The first single, “Fuck U Love U”, was released in December of last year, and “Bad Things” was released in 2020 and is included in her album. These songs are eclectic and resonate with varying moods and swings. We can all feel a profound longing and inner struggle as we cross into something beautiful.
“For me, Loner felt like a rebirth,” says Wonderland on the highly-anticipated upcoming project. “I owe it to whoever else is out there who was like me, wishing that they had an album like this to empower them to feel less alone and know that it’s all going to be okay one day.” She continues,
In 2022, as we emerge from past years of cloudy, turbulent change, Loner arrives, just in time to remind us to look ahead to a better tomorrow. Alison Wonderland’s next full-length studio album, Loner, will be released by Astralwerks on May 6. The album is available for pre-order right now.
- Safe Life
- FUCK U LOVE U
- New Day
- I’m Doing Great Now Thanks (Interlude)
- Something Real
- Eyes Closed
- Bad Things
- Fear of Dying
Alison Wonderland – Loner Tour
- 4/23 – Ubbi Dubbi Festival; Ft. Worth, TX
- 5/29 – Forecastle Festival; Louisville, KY
- 6/11 – The Greek Theatre @ UC Berkeley; Berkeley, CA