Hotboxed bars and stolen stashes: Wavves crash hard at The Rave
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Coming into your own doesn’t always mean you’ve grown up. That’s certainly the case for Wavves’ frontman Nathan Williams. His latest release and fourth full-length, Afraid Of Heights, is ostensibly the band’s most mature album to date, but it’s also very much a retread of his previous material. With pristine production—relatively speaking for a band once dubbed “no-fi”—and improved songwriting, the record does sound like some more experienced dudes made it. There’s a clear reference point to Weezer on Afraid Of Heights, though it’s safe to say that Wavves have firmly established their own niche of sun-drenched, stoner-surf-punk. However, the lyrical themes haven’t evolved much with the sound. Williams still remains a kid obsessed with never-ending juvenilia, focusing more on the whereabouts of the next party than anything else. And, more importantly, weed. So much weed.
By the time Wavves hit their first chord on Saturday night at The Rave Bar, dozens of spliffs had already been finished. The plumes of smoke, an overpowering marijuana smell, and absolutely no ventilation caused the tightly-packed club to be, literally, hotboxed during the set for Los Angeles punks Fidlar. A skater acronym for “Fuck It Dog, Life’s A Risk,” the band ripped through what seemed like every single song in its catalog within an hour. None was more anthemic than the infectious opener “Cheap Beer,” which had the entire audience chanting “I. Drink. Cheap. Beer. So. What. Fuck. You.” Every few seconds another person would jump onstage before diving back into the crowd.
If it seemed like there were no rules, it was basically true. With two much larger shows upstairs (Big Sean and Twiztid), there really was no security chaperoning this smaller gig. The youthful crowd was able to do as they pleased, which was appropriate for two bands this obsessed with teenage bacchanalia.
When Wavves walked on stage, it wasn’t immediately clear that the entire band was wasted, but it didn’t take long. Playing a mere 50 minutes (without an encore), no one was coherent enough to play a single second more. Bassist Steve Pope (who had to be the oldest person there) kept stumbling over to Williams wondering what song to play next. He once asked if they’d played the song the band had just finished. He even took off his bass and began to exit the stage before Williams instructed him there was still one more to play. While Pope was obviously the drunkest, straining to keep his eyes open, Williams admitted to almost puking near night’s end. Despite being so entirely messed up, Wavves put on a captivating show, like a hammered uncle that gives a great toast before passing out at the dinner table. The only setback happened when sound troubles delayed things for a few minutes at the start. And in all the chaos, someone stole Wavves’ stash. No need to worry, though—Williams and company will certainly feel fine as long as they find some more drugs and a new place to party.