Live: Wavves Totally Avoid Meltdowns, Further Injuries at Bowery Ballroom


Bowery Ballroom
Wednesday, July 15

I feel bad for feeling slightly disappointed that nothing remotely disastrous happened here. Nathan Williams bounded onstage, his freshly broken wrist gingerly wrapped but still capable of moderate shredding, and sang a bunch of washed-out, distorted-to-the-point-of-atonal-incoherence surf-pop songs while his drummer pal bashed around behind him. Absolute competence. Nothing to fall in love with, nothing to sneer at, nothing to apologize for.


Nah, not really. Divorced from both Great Expectations and Even Greater Backlash, Wavves are a fun little droning affair, the crowd robust and mercifully free of rubbernecking schadenfreude specialists, a modest moshpit erupting immediately at the foot of the stage (one guy in the midst of the chaos holding his vinyl copy of a Woods record high in the air to protect it, which is a lovely image), soon augmented by 20-25 solid stage-dives. As his mic was slathered in super-distortion, most of Nate’s banter was inaudible; he played one new song whose chorus sounded like “Everyone thinks that I am dumb,” but who knows. After awhile this all gets pretty old, but you can’t help but root for this guy now, that he pulls himself from the jaws of the Hype Machine before it swallows him entirely. At one point his guitar shorted out just before a triumphant chorus, but rather than freak out etc. he merely says “Ok,” jiggles it a little bit, lets the drums crash alone for a measure or two and then roars back, giving the tune a spontaneous, splendid jolt of actual dynamics. Survival is preferable even when it’s a little boring.

Not to be his mom or anything, but the Woods dude who spent the whole set on his hands and knees futzing about with various pedals etc. has no idea what’s gone down on the floor of that stage. Otherwise they’re totally inoffensive faux-rustic, mildly psychdelic Brooklyn pop, that most deadly of genres. Compared to, like, Vietnam, they’re Cancun.