Nick Waterhouse, Bleached
4Knots Music Festival Main Stage
Saturday, July 14
Better than: Eating at Pizzeria Uno.
Dressed almost as nattily as he was in his recent GQ photoshoot (in which he was more dressed for summer than yesterday, when he sported the remains of a gray sharkskin-ish suit in the heat), LA-based retro rhythm & blues act Nick Waterhouse kicked Saturday’s 4Knots Music Festival off. Waterhouse and his band, the Tarots, blasted through a set of their vintage-inspired sounds. Their old-school blues growls are hopped up with a little boogie woogie, Jackie Mittoo-ish organ flourishes rising to the surface, to be replaced by a bass sax solo; it’s an early-20th century pastiche that can be pretty pleasing when done right. With the sharp outfits and old-school piano sounds, their set gave off the effect of watching an episode of Archer in which the ISIS employees jammed with Fats Waller.
Bleached was next. They have flat, snottily affectless yet harmonized vocals and a vaguely surf-inflected wall of guitar noise that sounded impeccable over the Seaport’s massive sound system. They looked tough, too, in their flowered dresses and stockings—I half-expected one of them to pull a switchblade out of somewhere and slice up the beachballs that began to menace the crowd during their set. (One young mother got hit in the face no fewer than 10 times in the space of a few minutes.) That’s what would have happened if the 4Knots Music Festival was actually the setting for a John Waters movie. And isn’t that basically the template for how life should work?
Critical bias: Jealous of Waterhouse’s outfit.
Random notebook dump: Two gigantic saxophones were on stage during Nick Waterhouse’s set. You could say that his band was very sax heavy, in more ways than one—because those things are heavy! Zing! (This is a terrible joke I thought of during his set.)