[live review + video] Wavves + Fucked Up @ Royale

Nathan Williams has come a long way since Barcelona. The story has been well told, and if you're even a remote fan of WAVVES, I'm certain you've heard it. But for the uninitiated, a truncated version of the happenings: Williams and then drummer Ryan Ulsh played Spain's Primavera Sound Festival in early 2009. Some would say they were in the "buzz band" stage of their not-long career, having just released their rather righteous second LP, Wavvves. Reportedly, Williams ingested a pre-show cocktail consisting of Ecstasy, Valium, and Xanex, mumbled on stage for 15-minutes, deservedly got a bunch of shit thrown at him, and left the stage in an inebriated huff. They cancelled the remainder of their European tour and Ulsh quit the band.

Seemingly destined to pay for his shittiness and never be seen or heard from again, Williams has actually done quite the opposite, meaning he's everywhere. His eventual followup LP, King of the Beach, was legitimately fucking awesome (imho), he formed one of the most annoyingly twee indie power couples of all time, and his music is getting spins on MTV. Also, he allegedly got Tyler, the Creator's mom into the VMAs, which is pretty fucking cool.

In case anyone was wondering, my moment of complete forgiveness for Wavves came this past Friday at Royale. Now touring with a full backing band, there's nothing to hate anymore. Sure, detractors will still cling to the fact that William's is nasally, annoying, etc. etc. But you'd literally have to be a stone cold cynic to have been in that room and not have been able to muster at least a slight grin as a result of their pop melodies.

I'm going to sound like an ass saying this -- others have before me, it still feels blasphemous though -- but at one point Williams fell backwards on the stage while he was shredding his guitar and I couldn't help but think of Cobain. Admittedly, the recollection was probably thanks to the recent outpouring of Nevermind essays, but it was still very palpable and somewhat eerie. Obviously, Wavves will never make music as influencial as Nirvana's -- no one will -- and Williams' brashness will never touch that of Cobain -- no one's will -- but there are some parallels to be drawn between the two groups' ubiquitous punk sensibilities. Okay, I'm officially revoking my own rights to ever cover music again, anywhere.

Onward. There were of course plenty of stone-cold cynics in the audience thanks to the night's headliner, FUCKED UP. When Wavves wrapped their set, the throng of pogoing adolescents disbanded from the space they had occupied for the opening set, and they were replaced by a more burly audience who had been looming toward the back bars. They played the same venue only three months ago and our dearly departed music intern covered it then. My sentiments on Friday's Fucked Up show mirror his from June exactly. Not going to copy and paste his writing here though cause that would be dickish.

One more aside, as a chance to clear the air: If you were there and saw someone in the pit during Fucked Up not wearing a shirt, that was me. I'm not proud of this. But not even 10-minutes into their set, while I was posted up somewhere near the madness at the front of the stage, someone stuck their finger into a hole into the back of my well-worn t-shirt and ripped it right from my back, in a reverse Hulk Hogan manner. I'm generally self-conscious about my body and wouldn't condone shirtlessness in a club setting under any circumstance. But what the fuck was I supposed to do? Leave? That shit was too awesome.

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