Tag Archives: Wavves

Live: Dean Wareham Plays Galaxie 500 + Crystal Stilts

21 Aug

Dean Wareham plays Galaxie 500 songs (backed by the Dean & Britta band)

At the 140-year-old Trocadero Theatre in Phila., PA, where minstrel, vaudeville and burlesque shows once did the trick, Dean Wareham played Galaxie 500 songs. Just after 10 p.m., Wareham, the 47-year-old dreampop hero, walked on stage with his beer, his bass-playing wife Britta and the rest of the band. With no preamble, Wareham and co. rode right on in to “Flowers,” the first track off of their 1988 debut Today.

Wareham’s voice is as haunting and inviting as it was over 20 years ago, and his guitar work alone is worth the price of admission. One of the benefits of seeing Wareham up close is getting a look at his expressive non-expression, where the muscles in his face are relieved of duty, eyelids refusing to come down, as he loses himself in each song. All the while cranking out gorgeous solos.

Wareham told a story about dropping acid a while back with friends, taking their socks and shoes off to dip their feet in the water. “I thought my toes were talking to me,” Wareham said in deadpan. And Wareham begat “Decomposing Trees.”

“Blue Thunder” is the classic car song. Wareham explained that he named his old blue ride after the feature film of the same name, starring Malcolm McDowell and Roy Scheider. Britta chimed in saying she had a green one, to which Wareham replied, “Green Thunder doesn’t have quite the same ring, does it?”

If you are a fan of Galaxie 500, Luna or Dean & Britta, this is a must-see show.

Setlist from 8/20/10 @ The Trocadero

Crystal Stilts

Crystal Stilts opened for Dean Wareham with a perfect 30-minute set of their layered pop sound. Crystal Stilts get misbranded often as a lo-fi outfit because of their jangle. Seeing Wavves and Beach Fossils, despite some similar influences, is a completely different experience than seeing Crystal Stilts. Frontman Brad Hargett sounds exactly like Joy Division’s Ian Curtis. The critics who note their New Zealand (The Clean, The Saints, Wareham, The Bats and especially The Chills) influence got it right. The funny think about the NZ influence, known as the Dunedin Sound, is its roots in early garage and punk pioneers Velvet Underground and The Stooges while incorporating the perfect pop craft of The Beatles. Like those bands before them, The Stilts have no tricks. They just have the equation down pat: write great pop songs and know how to make it dirty.

A Lazy List of Things I Learned Because I Attended Lollapalooza in 2010

19 Aug

  1. What the Church of the SubGenius is, thanks to resurgent sci-fi nerd rockers Devo.
  2. That I still like The Strokes’ third album First Impressions of Earth. And that they are immaculate live musicians.
  3. That Mavis Staples is from Chicago.
  4. That Jeff Tweedy‘s son has his own band.
  5. That Jamie Lidell is as captivating a performer as anyone (without even considering that he’s a gangly white soul singer from across the pond).
  6. That concert-goers are willing to dress up like Green Man from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia in 90-degree heat.
  7. That Wavves drummer Billy Hayes didn’t really enjoy playing in Jay Reatard‘s band. And that he smokes weed out of Bud Light cans.
  8. That I should have seen Balkan Beat Box because they are awesome.
  9. That Raphael Saadiq produced D’Angelo‘s “Untitled (How Does It Feel?).”
  10. That if you lend an Australian lass your lighter, she will fill you with vodka-soaked kiwi (this may not be consistent throughout the land).
  11. That the Ike Reilly Assassination is as beloved a Chicago band as…well they are beloved.
  12. That reading people’s band and gimmick t-shirts makes you dizzy until you get to this one…
  13. That the Tribune Tower, the host building of the Chicago Tribune newspaper, includes actual stones from the Taj Majal, The Alamo, Abe Lincoln‘s tomb and Jim Belushi‘s house.
  14. That paying $5 for 12 oz. of beer feels awful. Paying $9 for a lobster corndog feels goofy. Finding Australian girls with vodka-soaked kiwis feels just right.
  15. Between Spoon, The Strokes and Arcade Fire, the state of music is in pretty good hands.
  16. MGMT has in fact become a good live band.
  17. Music festivals are as frustrating for what you miss as they are amazing for what you see.

Lollapalooza 2010

12 Aug

Spread out over 110 acres of downtown Chicago, Lollapalooza 2010 provided concert-goers with three days of indie playlists come alive, eccentric food options, The Strokes first show in America in four years, X Japan’s first ever show in America, Lady Gaga stage-diving nude, Jeff Tweedy playing guitar for Mavis Staples…and Devo. What else happened?


With the 25-acre expansion this year, one common complaint was that the stages were too far apart from one another. The upshot of the expansion for Lolla was the ability to sell more tickets (which they did with 240,000 total folks this year), and for attendees it was the ability to move freely with a little room to wiggle. There was no difference in distance between the two main stages, though the ancillary stages seemed further out of the way and even obscured.


Spearheaded like a taste of a Taste of Chicago, the world’s largest food festival, the food area was bigger and better and drew considerable attention for its creativity. Malnati’s for $3 per deep, delicious slice was the best deal, but more creative choices were available: Chef Graham Elliot’s truffle fries and lobster corndogs were the talk of the town. Elliot curated the operation known as Chow Town, which featured more than 30 restaurants. This didn’t even include the Farmer’s Market, which provided the organics (fruit, cheeses, espresso, breads, pastries, etc.) from select cafes, bistros, farms and bakeries.


California’s lo-fi fuzzpunks Wavves kickstarted the festival with drummer Billy Hayes (formerly of Jay Reatard‘s band along with bassist Stephen Pope) proclaiming, “We smoked out of a Bud Light can before we came up here…I’ve got early onset Alzheimer’s.” Wavves played a focused set filled by Hayes’s hilarious commentary in between songs (for example, spotting a Ben Stein look-a-like, referencing “Win Ben Stein’s Money,” dedicating songs to random audience members). The set included four songs from their debut album and seven songs from King of the Beach, including the title track and “Take on the World.”

Regret seeing: Foxy Shazam, B.o.B., Balkan Beat Box

Immediately after Wavves finished up, Los Amigos Invisibles (David Byrne’s Luaka Bop Records) threw a party like they owned the place. For one, they performed at the festival’s most aesthetically pleasing stage known the Playstation Stage. The stage is the only permanent one in all of Grant Park known as the Petrillo Music Shell and is an outdoor amphitheater with amazing sound and history (opened in the 1931, FDR made his Democratic nominee acceptance speech there).

If Wavves didn’t wake everyone up, Los Amigos did the trick. The Venezuelan jazz-funk rockers put on a show that forced every white person in attendance to do what they do most awkwardly: dance. Chulius, a true lead singer, was an energetic showman with a versatile voice, sweating, interacting and getting panties thrown his way. Armando Figueredo manhandled the keyboard and synths (literally, as he finished the set humping his keyboard on the stage) while Jose Rafael Torres maintained the funk on bass. The real highlight was Jose Luis Pardo‘s guitar work, whipping tight solos into shape and playing lightning fast rhythms (very reminiscent of Talking Heads’ riffs). His Sideshow Bob afro was almost as entertaining. For laughs and sincere appreciation, Los Amigos played snippets of 90s dance classics like “I Like to Move It” by Reel 2 Reel and “Get Ready for This” by 2 Unlimited.

Regret seeing: The Walkmen

Mavis Staples, known to many as Martin Luther King‘s favorite singer, known to some as the beautiful woman who helps sing “The Weight” on The Band‘s Last Waltz. Mavis Staples’ voice is harder these days, but still carries the gospel power in each delivered note. Staples’ newest album You Are Not Alone was produced by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, who was called out to play guitar on the title track, which he penned (he was to be summoned once again by crowd chants and then by Mavis herself to play guitar on Creedence’s “Wrote a Song for Everyone”). Tweedy and Staples displayed the diversity and history of homegrown Chicago talent.

To be continued…

WAVVES’ King of the Beach: Free Stream on Fat Possum

1 Jul

Click Nasty Nate and be swept away to the new album’s free stream courtesy of Fat Possum.

“You’re never gonna stop me,” sings Nathan Williams on the opening track, clearing up any misgivings of just who the King of the Beach really is.

Despite WAVVES’ rapid rise to underground stardom with Wavvves and his subsequent insipid fall from grace, Williams comes charging back with an unapologetic string of songs confronting what went down in 2009. It is peaceful, playful, snarky, compelling, mature and an instant classic.

When Williams sings “I’d apologize, but it wouldn’t mean shit,” he is speaking to both himself and those who turned their backs. One can’t help but notice the peace he has come to in charging those demons. There is a clarity amongst the fuzz, without replacing the fuzz.

Just as important as Williams’ mental state is the craftsmanship and maturity of the music. Those artists who embrace the lo-fi culture have easy beginnings, but jutting the boredom of the fuzz and simplicity and emerging with fresh sound is difficult and often the downfall of a lo-fi superstar. Just as Williams confronted his doubters, he jammed a riflebutt right in the genre’s chest and produced a classic with well-crafted pop that doesn’t have to fight through the fuzz, but is given the right to live alongside of it.


Fri-Aug-06    Chicago, IL  Lollapalooza
Sat-Aug-07    Chicago, IL  Empty Bottle Lollapalooza afterparty *
Thu-Aug-12    San Diego, CA Museum of Contemporary A
Fri-Aug-13    Pomona, CA    The Glass House #
Sat-Aug-14    Portland, OR    Berbati’s Pan
Mon-Aug-16    Santa Barbara, CA    Soho
Tue-Aug-17    Santa Cruz, CA    Crepe Place
Wed-Aug-18    San Francisco, CA    Rickshaw Stop
Wed-Aug-25    Seattle, WA    Neumos
Thu-Aug-26    Vancouver, BC    Biltmore
Fri-Aug-27    Victoria, BC    Sugar
Mon-Aug-30    Sacramento, CA    Sol Collective
Tue-Aug-31    Visalia, CA    Howie and Sons Pizza

* = w/ Harlem, Fergus and Geronimo
# = w/ The Cool Kids

King of the Beach
(Fat Possum)
Physical Street date: Aug. 3, 2010

King Of The Beach
Super Soaker
When Will You Come?
Post Acid
Take On The World
Baseball Cards
Convertible Balloon
Green Eyes
Mickey Mouse
Linus Spacehead
Baby Say Goodbye

May releases: Harvey Milk, Andy Bell (Erasure), Beach Fossils

14 May

The month of May is living up to its fertile standards, giving way to tons of new releases. The month has already delivered:

Forgiveness Rock Record from Broken Social Scene, Your Future Out Clutter from the Fall, Together from the New Pornographers, Heaven is Whenever from the Hold Steady, Love is Strange from Jackson Browne & David Lindley, The Latin from Holy Fuck, High Violet from the National, Treats from Sleigh Bells, At Echo Lake from Woods and One Word, One Love from Michael Bolton (still reading?).

Almost as exciting as LCD Soundsystem’s This is Happening (due out May 18), is the return of Harvey Milk to the studio. Reuniting in 2006 after an eight-year hiatus, A Small Turn of Human Kindness (also due out May 18) is their second full-length since and sixth overall.

Harvey Milk gets its dirge on

Human Kindness is sure to excite the critical mass once again with this output, channeling their natural inner Chrome. Harvey Milk sets the spacious, metallic tone immediately, building walls of guitar so Creston Spiers can scale them. It’s definitely meant to be listened to straight through as one piece of music, one very ominous play. If you’re patient enough, you’ll be rewarded with a metal lullaby. Click here for the free stream at NPR’s First Listen:

Harvey Milk’s A Small Turn of Human Kindness

LCD Soundsystem’s release will be covered by the internet’s internet so we’ll skip our thoughts. Here is the limited-time free stream:

LCD Soundsystem’s This Is Happening

It’s worth noting that Andy Bell (of Erasure fame) will be releasing a solo album. The album was due out May 18, but has been pushed to June 7. From the small samples that have been released it’s more of the same synthpop with harder techno beats. Erasure has a massive gay demographic that will soak up anything Clarke and Bell release. If it isn’t evident by the sound, then it is by Bell’s headlining European Gay Ski Week 2010. Nothing, however, will replace Erasure as being the best online game theme song:

Erasure's "Always" makes you feel like a unicorn

Out May 25th is Beach Fossils’ eponymous LP. Anytime a new lo-fi act gains some notoriety, the “has it been beaten to death” debate begins, and that’s exactly what happened with The Beach Fossils. Despite already being compared to No Age, Wavves, Vivian Girls and (somehow) Mika Miko, Beach Fossils’ guitar chops are clearly on another level. The lo-fi sound is obvious, but it isn’t grating or contrived. There is even a twee-pop sweetness reminiscent of Galaxie 500 and Beat Happening. The sweet melodies are buried, but not No Age-buried. There is a clear distinction between No Age’s art-noise/no wave philosophies and Beach Fossils’ crafted fuzz (Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros meets Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet). These guys found a way not to be pigeonholed by their methods.

Beach Fossils self-titled LP out May 25th