Wavves & Vampire Hands at the Funhouse, Seattle | 9 April 2009
All the hype surrounding Wavves, apparently has not reached Seattle because the Funhouse, though comfortably full, was by no means packed. Wavves are riding a, um, wave of hype, but when you come down to it, they’re just a lo-fi band that writes semi-catchy songs and tries to obscure them with distortion/feedback/reverb. On record, Wavves is really only Nathan Williams, but for touring purposes he’s got a drummer. The first thing that I noticed about Williams as he came on stage was that he is a really tiny guy who looks to be about 17. Basically he’s just a kid with a sideways haircut, a Chicago Bulls t-shirt, no effects pedals, a huge Marshall amp that was a tall as he is, and a Fender guitar.
Williams is a man of few words as is evident in nearly ever interview with him I’ve heard or read, and on stage he was no different. Greeting us with a fuck yeah and then saying we’re gonna play some songs for you. Nothing like stating the obvious, maybe he says so little, because he doesn’t have much to say. After all, half of the songs in Wavves’ discography are about goths. I had heard some reviews saying that Wavves live was inferior to the recorded version, that they came off as a sub-par White Stripes unable to translate the distorted pop bliss of the records to the live setting. So I entered with somewhat low expectations. My low expectations were quickly met and then exceeded as they ripped through their short 35 minute set of distortion disguised pop. The Funhouse sound system leaves a lot to be desired, making most bands sound like a sea of mush, but for some reason bands consisting only of guitar and drums come out sounding great. Clearly less is more when it comes to the Funhouse and Wavves were no exception. Granted, their sound is based in sounding like a mush of guitar, but Williams singing was perfectly distorted into the guitar and drums, approximating the record quite well. The short set leaned towards the poppier songs including So Bored, To the Dregs, Wavves and a few of the Goth songs including Summer Goth. It was short with no encore, but a lot can be said for not wearing out your welcome, plus they’ll be back in two weeks playing with Crystal Stilts for the Rainy Dawg Birthday bash.
Wavves are on tour with Minneapolis band Vampire Hands. I was assured by a couple people that these guys are pretty amazing, but unfortunately they fell victim to the Funhouse sound system. Their set was a soup of sound. Visually they looked like they were totally rocking out and feeling it, but I just couldn’t hear it. I could kind of make out a slightly pyschedilic sound that kind of reminded me of Woods with less patchouli, which may sound derogitory, but most certainly is not.