Life is full of tiny disappointments. At “Rock the Bells” a few years back, the MC announced that the special guest for the show would be Lauryn Hill. As in Fugees, “Killing Me Softly” Lauryn Hill. This normally sounds like an awesome time, but when you’re breathing in blunt smoke in the lung slots usually reserved for oxygen and then she comes out and does some sort of horrible, arrhythmic speed-rap, you just want to die and maybe want one of those old-timey shepherd’s hooks to drag her offstage before she destroys your appreciation for The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
Seeing Wavves live is not one of those disappointments. Touring in support of their surf-rocking third LP, King of the Beach, Wavves strolled into SOhO on August 16 and managed to make a Monday night Santa Barbara crowd temporarily lose its freaking mind. Joined by two members of late punker Jay Reatard’s band (bassist Stephen Pope and drummer Billy Hayes), guitarist Nathan Williams played a moshable set without any huge squalls of feedback or onstage drug-induced meltdowns. Color me unimpressed by both of them.
What did happen, however, was a good set by a band that knows their way around stage. Although they suffered a myriad of technical problems — most of them caused by the fact that kids were getting thrown onto the stage and messing up the wiring — the only major glitch in the show came after an enthusiastic audience member jumped onstage, started howling into the mic and dancing around like an inebriated person, disconnecting Williams’ mic in the process.
“Was that just some guy? I totally didn’t notice,” deadpanned Pope, who just minutes earlier had inserted himself forcibly into the show by throwing an audience member who had found himself onstage into the crowd, then joining in the mosh pit himself while a group of sweaty guys rubbed themselves all over his body. I am literally not making that last part up, and if you’ve never seen a big fat dude moshing with a bunch of really skinny dudes who all just want to touch and rub and get some of that Wavves magic off of his fly-away red hair, then I highly encourage it, because it rules so hard.
This is the type of show that makes me happy to attend concerts. Williams replaced his earlier “aw, shucks” persona (at The Smell in L.A., he mumbled “Um, we’re Wavves” and then blew everyone’s eardrums off for 20 minutes without saying another word) with something more confident and assured. Even when some guy in the front offered him weed, he turned it down.
“It’s California. I have my card,” he said, before initiating a search for better drugs. This may be ridiculous, but I’m running with it. Williams is looking for something more, and if he keeps this up, he just might find it.
P.S. Stephen Pope was totally down to try DMT, but none was forthcoming. STEP IT UP, GUYS.