01 October 2009

Ganglians/Wavves, Ottobar, Baltimore. 9/30/09

Several factors had to be considered before I finally decided to attend this show. I had been doing some math in my head at work the other day, and I determined that internets have been discussing Wavves for about as long as I have been a blog, which is roughly about 7-8 months. I started thinking that this cosmic connection was enough of a reason to make the trip to the city. Then I started thinking about the music, and I figured I dug the songs enough to merit the trek. It also occurred to me that I did, in fact, attend Woodsist/Captured Tracks where most of the acts there kind of sort of sounded like Wavves in some capacity or another. In fact, I remember seeing that line-up for the first time, and saying to myself, "What? No Wavves?" It was starting to look like the facts were stacked in the direction of going. But then, I thought about all the bad press. The concert meltdowns, and fisticuffs with other artists. I began to fear that if I did go the show then I would be pelted with potatoes by diehard Black Lips, who would have lined the streets leading up to the bar in order to send a message that there was a Wavves backlash. Eventually citing boredom as the main motivation, I went to the show.
When I first got to the Ottobar, it seemed like there actually was a Wavves resistance movement. The bar was empty. The opening band, POPO, had cancelled, but I couldn't imagine that this was the sole reason for the scant crowd. Then I thought about it, and eventually determined that the haters were winning. 
Ganglians started the show off, and were pretty great at doing it. They sound like the Beach Boys sorta, but its more like they sound like the Beach Boys if the Beach Boys had been the founding members of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. Just a good time. 
More people started to file in, but there was still some waiting to be had. I stayed seated at the bar because I figured that way I could avoid the risk of being the only jackass that was lined up at the front of the stage. The bartender asked me if I had seen either of these bands before, and I told her that I had seen Ganglians before, and then she asked where because she said she had never heard of them playing Baltimore before, and then I had to tell her that it was in Brooklyn, and then she nodded slightly indicating that she could see how that was possible. Then we started talking about Wavves, and I ended up admitting that I was concerned to how this show was going to go. But she said that she had seen Wavves before, and that it was good and then she nodded slightly indicating that the show should turn out pretty well. 
Finally, Nathan Williams descended upon the stage and began tinkering with his guitar. With each strum, he asked for the sound to be turned up louder and louder. He said that he wanted everything to be so loud that it would make people's heads hurt. His drummer was a massive, hulking dude who kept banging on what looked like the smallest drum set in the world. 
Wavves started the show off with "So Bored", and away we went. The small room filled with noise, and I realized something. Wavves is just a bro. Forget all of the internet bullshit. This is a regular guy. He wore a hat, and a sweet flannel that also had a hood. Coincidentally, I once knew a girl who had a sweet flannel hoodie, but that really has nothing to do with any of this. 
As the show progressed, there was one thing that kept jumping out. This is a regular guy. Presumably, he has parents and perhaps brothers and sisters. On stage, he looks like a bro who one day started recording music in his bedroom, and it works because that's who he's supposed to be. He definitely wasn't a dick. The only dick that was there was this one guy who kept requesting "Poker Face" at the end of every song. "I remember you from last time", Williams said to the guy. "It was kind of funny the first time, but it's not anymore," he added. That wasn't a dick move, but rather he was just managing his crowd so that he could have their undivided attention while he did his thing. At one point, someone yelled "Fuck Jared Swilley" and Williams said, "Don't say that." Again, not a dick. In that issued apology from the other day, Williams said all he wanted to do was play music and have fun. Judging by his behavior at this show, it seems like that is really his sole aim. 
Wavves' set was totally rad. The new drummer may just be my most favorite drummer in any band. He beat the living shit out of that kit for the entire show. When a song ended, he just kept hammering away until Williams started up the next song. It was quite the visceral experience, and at points it seemed like it could have lasted all night. What once seemed like a great risk had slowly evolved into a surprisingly kick-ass time. (Writer's Note: Was that a limp-wrist ending? I hope not, but I can't really tell. The show was seriously a good time.)

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