If there was such thing as an indie power couple, it would be Bethany Cosentino and Nathan Williams. The on-again, off-again couple are on their first tour together with Mexican Summer labelmates, No Joy. Summer Is Forever came through Boulder last night and I figured it would be the perfect Valentine’s Day show. Head up to Boulder, a nice dinner at The Med and then over to the Fox to prove we are still young at heart by attending a show performed by another couple from California, a couple 10 years our junior.
No Joy opened the show at 9:15 with a half hour set of fuzzy noise rock reminiscent of a young Sonic Youth. I had only heard a few songs from this band before the show and wasn’t sure what to expect, but I will say I really enjoyed their performance. The Sonic Youth influences are obvious, two members even resemble Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore, but they arn’t a blatant rip-off. On certain songs, when the female vocals find there way through the noise, an intimate dream pop element reveals itself, an element that sets them apart from their shoegazing peers. I’m not sure I would be in a hurry to go out and buy their album, I’ll probably just stick with the few singles that have been available for download, but I do believe No Joy are ready for the headlining spot they will have at Marquis Theater next Tuesday. They have that thing that is so critical in a live noise show, they look cool doing what they are doing. The blonde hair in the face, the disinterested looks and the misuse of their equipment all provide the visual entertainment to compliment the ear (psycho) candy.
When I first heard Wavves I thought it was the end of music. This duo out of San Diego was making ‘surf’ punk that was so lo-fi that it sounded like absolute crap. The first two albums were unlistenable as far as I was concerned, but they were being hyped like they were the next Nirvana. I didn’t get it and would spout out my distaste to anyone who would listen. Then came all the onstage break downs and drugs and fights and all the other crap that went along with Nathan and I got to the point I just didn’t want to hear another word about it. When King of the Beach was released last year I didn’t even bother to listen to it. Sure, he had a band to round out the sound, supposedly the production value was much higher and it was more than just noise, but I had already made up my mind about this band. But back in November I made a playlist of bands that would be playing Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin and I threw a few songs from King of the Beach on there. I was blown away at how different they sounded. The titles track, Post Acid, and especially Green Eyes…these were great songs and I was pissed! Just like No Age, I didn’t want to like this band, but just like No Age, I couldn’t help it. I still believe those first releases by both bands sound like crap…but I can no longer deny their talent.
So now it’s time to really eat my words…last night’s Wavves show was one of the best shows I’ve been to in a long time. No show in recent history has recreated the feelings I had when attending punk shows in San Diego as a teenager. Back in those days when Nathan and I shared a city, although he was only 7 years old. The pure, raw force of their live act is something that could have never been predicted based on their recorded work. They are a punk band through and through. And not some modern pop punk and not some 80’s imitators. This is modern punk and it works just like the old stuff. They have the attitude, they have the potency and they have the fans in the pit. I could not believe my eyes or ears.
Instead of playing on the Valentines’ Day theme and the fact that he is touring with his girlfriend, Nathan and his boys came out to Slayer wearing full corpsepaint. They also spoke in death metal growls through the first half of the show, until Nathan decided to ‘fuck this metal shit, it’s Valentine’s Day, it’s for lovers’, which didn’t stop Stephen Pope who was having way too much fun being in character.
Their set was just short of an hour and just long enough. With that type of intensity, anything more would have been too much.
When Wavves left the stage, the first two songs played over the house speakers were Dead Kennedys‘ Too Drunk To Fuck followed by The Crystals’ Then He Kissed Me. These two songs would only seem appropriate together at this show. Wavves make stoner beach punk and Best Coast make stoner beach pop, but they have both been influenced by 80’s punk rock as well as 60’s pop. And as if that is not enough, those songs were followed by Green Day and Magnetic Fields before Bethany, Bobb and Ali took the stage to 2Pac‘s California Love.
It was 11:30 by the time Best Coast started with Crazy For You and the floor had cleared out quite a bit. The place was still pretty packed, but it was obvious that the crowd who came out of the pit beaten and bloody were here for Wavves and didn’t stick around for the headliner. Maybe Best Coast have sold more albums? Or have a larger following? But last night it was backwards. I saw Best Coast at Fun Fun Fun and Bethany’s band was the reason I brought my wife to this show, but after Wavves set, her beach pop fell flat on (literally) deaf ears. Their set wasn’t band, and Bobb was on it as usual (being a heavy metal man in a girlie group), but during a guitar tuning intermission where he told uncomfortable stories about smoking weed and throwing pineapples, we decided to take our leave. We caught the first half hour of the set, but it was midnight, we had to drive back to Denver and we felt we had gotten our money’s worth and then some.
Nathan sings on Post Acid, “I’m just havin fun!” and I believe him and I doubt anyone in the crowd last night would not agree with that sentiment. Oh to be young and in love and in corpsepaint…