Curled up in a booth on Saturday afternoon at Lincoln Hall, Natalie Bergman revealed she’s got a “slight addiction to men.”
“I’m sure people get sick of hearing about love but I don’t care because it’s in my heart and that’s what I have to write about,” said the 26-year-old Chicago-born singer who, along with brother Elliot, 34, comprise the sibling duo Wild Belle.
“Men are…well, when I’m in love that’s my muse, that’s my content, that’s my lyrical inspiration,” said Bergman, sporting leather pants and cowboy boots. “This last record is about my boyfriend, who I still miss a lot. He left me. Got up and peaced out. Sayonara. We were recording that day, it was a really exciting day for me. When I got home, all of his stuff was gone. So it was a heavy separation. Part of me is f*** that mother-f*****. It seriously tore me.”
The upshot of that experience is “Dream Land,” their second album due to be released in January, which Bergman says is “tough, a little bit ruder than the first [album]. It’s kind of like ‘Rude Boy’ 2.0.”
More immediately, the band was prepping for last weekend when they were to perform two sold-out Lollapalooza shows: a midnight “after show” at Lincoln Hall on Saturday, and the main festival performance on Sunday evening in Grant Park. It was their second time at the festival, following up their 2013 show.
“We were spinning some of our favorite 45s at Nellcôte last night and before that we played sort of a drag queen party,” said Bergman, raspy-voiced. “You know, we’re rolling with a serious crew right now. We’ve got a new conga player. I picked him up at the California Clipper the other night. He’s gorgeous; he plays drums. He looks like he dropped out of the sky. I walked right up to him and said, ‘You want to audition?’”
The addition of congas, played by Daniel Villareal, proved to be a wise move, adding energy and effortlessly blending into the band’s hazy African- and island-inspired beat on Sunday night. Wearing ripped white jeans and a floaty off-white blouse, Bergman engaged the audience with relaxed bravado, as her brother switched between playing the saxophone and keyboards. Highlights of the new tracks played included “Mississippi River,” “Giving Up on You” and the catchy “Throw Down Your Guns.” They also performed their just-released new single “Be Together,” an infectious dance track in collaboration with Major Lazer. The band closed with their old favorite, “Keep You.”
The sophomore album took almost two years to complete and marks a key evolution in their sound, Elliot Bergman said. “It’s bigger, badder and has a fuller sound,” he said.
“I love our first record, but this feels like a big step forward for us,” he said, during a rehearsal break on Saturday in Lincoln Hall’s Green Room. “Natalie has grown a lot as a singer and songwriter. It feels more mature. There’s a lot of playful and youthful energy on the first record but there’s more edge. Sharper teeth.”