Wavves: Live Last Night

wavves

Live Last Night

By David Malitz

What makes the songs by Wavves (aka 23-year-old San Diegan Nathan Williams) stand out on record is the abundance of pop hooks that fight through the fuzz of his lo-fi home recordings. But it was an unexpected thrashy punk energy that made Thursday night's show at Rock and Roll Hotel genuinely jolting. Williams sang - well, warbled - about topics such as boredom ("So Bored") and emptiness ("No Hope Kids"), but there was nothing lackadaisical about his blur of a 35-minute set.

(Read the rest of the review after the jump.)

The dozen or so three-minute nuggets were built mostly on rudimentary power chord riffs that were smothered in layers of distortion. Williams's vocals were also obscured by reverb; unless you already knew the words, the only distinguishable lyrics were the catchy "ooh ooh"s that highlight many of his songs. The result suggested a simplified version of the earliest Nirvana songs if standout drummer Dave Grohl was already on board.

That was thanks to the presence of drummer Zach Hill. The band's only other member, he's best known for his heady work with math rockers Hella. A new and unlikely collaborator, Hill added oomph where there was previously pfft. His Tasmanian Devil style of playing -- constant motion, a blur of flying hair and flailing arms -- brought an urgency to Williams's stoner anthems. Hill is a drummer so active that his drum fills have drum fills of their own. His playing propelled the songs into hyperspeed, making it seem like the two were racing to keep up with each other. But faster was always better, even -- heck, especially -- if precision was sacrificed.

By David Malitz |  October 2, 2009; 4:25 PM ET Live Last Night
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