The buzz surrounding the career of Nathan Williams and Wavves has always seemed to overshadow the music, but after a disappointing reaction from their latest album, Afraid of Heights, the blog-induced popularity leveled off and is now taking a dive. But what would that mean for the music? We got a chance to find out last night at the Observatory during his set presented by Burger Records with support form King Tuff and Jacuzzi Boys.
Somehow, Williams turned music that sounds like its been recorded (and probably was) from a Macbook microphone into one of the biggest indie acts of the mid aughts. The constant clipping of the album Wavvves pushed the band out of the bedroom and onto its first major tour. In a concoction of drugs and inexperience, Williams self-destructed and the whole band came to a stop. The American indie media swallowed it up and the band managed to survive and grew from the experience. The band then came out with King Of The Beach reaching MTV level popularity and it still seemed the hype outlived the bands' songs.
Wavves always kept refreshed with the revolving door of interesting members including members of Jay Reatard's band as well as Zach Hill from Hella. Also Williams public relationship with fellow So Cal lo-fi pop artist Bethany Cosentino never hurt. However, the Nirvana-influenced Afraid of Heights came out in March and it seemed the world (or at least the Pitchfork crowd) didn't care. At the same time, Williams also outgrew many of his raucous on-stage stunts.
Afraid of Heights wasn't a bad album, it just hasn't hit the popularity peak Wavves once experienced and showcased a more mature sound. Like the album, the Wavves live performance also grew up. With no onstage freak-outs and backing members that aren't infamous in their own light (Stephen Pope is now a full blown member), the onstage presence was one of maturity. An unopened wine bottle sat next to Williams amp, but throughout the night I only saw him reaching for the water bottle. Although not as fun to watch, their sound blew the two-piece lo-fi beginnings out of the water and gave preview to what looks like a lifetime career in mainstream music.
Wavves came out with their first big single from King of the Beach “Post Acid.” Williams also played an interesting version of “Green Eyes” to a surprisingly sober audience, that is to say I at least didn't smell anything wafting in the air. With the occasional stage dive and onstage security guard chase, the show never dulled. The setlist was heavy with new songs, but Williams put in older tracks like “No Hope Kids” that the audience really enjoyed.
The Crowd: A mix of Burger Records kids and Coachella girls.
Overheard In the Crowd: If they don't play “To the Dregs” I'm going to kill myself.