I woke up from my nap around 7:45 PM and realized that I had about 20 minutes to shower, get dressed and make moves to the Rock and Roll Hotel. With the onset of fall, I no longer have the luxury of making night moves at a leisurely pace. In other words, the colder it gets, the more hurried my life becomes.
When I arrived at the Rock and Roll Hotel around 8:30pm, Tennis System were still doing soundcheck. To pass the time, I decided to head upstairs and read a newspaper. From my seat at the bar, I could feel the vibrations of the music from downstairs. Apparently Matt, Drake, Clinton and Brad were living up to their reputation as DC’s loudest band before the doors had even opened.
There are few things I love more than when a band begins their set with the song I really want to hear. Tennis System started the evening right by opening with a searing vesrion of “FS.” Despite the fact that they’ve only been playing out for about a year, this band is definitely making a mark on the DC scene. Their set featured Mogwai influenced freak-outs and jangly psychedelic numbers that were reminiscent of early Ride - the ideal combination, if you ask me. Their LOUDquietLOUD antics, combined with the use of moody and sometimes disorienting lighting, make for an intense live experience. Assuming they find a way to keep local soundguys from tearing their hair out, I see a very bright future for these lads.
Next up were Ganglians, a Sacramento based quartet who are currently on tour with Wavves. I expected them to be yet another middling fuzzed out indie pop group, but boy was I wrong. They kinda sounded like a rock version of DC’s Exactly. The vocals and guitars were washed out in delay and reverb, while the drums and bass throbbed like a speed freak’s heart. Even when they slowed down for keyboards based tracks (note: keyboard being a little Casio CZ series), there was still an air of menace. While I thought these guys were excellent performers, I would’ve preferred to see them in a smaller, slightly sweatier venue.
Now a lot of people have written a lot of things about Wavves in the last four months. Nathan Williams’ “meltdown” at Primavera Soundsystem earlier this year had a lot of people pointing and laughing. And a recent altercation with Jared from Black Lips was touted as a lo-fi version of the 1990s hip-hop wars. It could be argued that a number of people in the audience were there to see if the whole thing was gonna be some kind of freakshow.
Well, it wasn’t. Yes, Nathan was a bit weird, but he was certainly in good spirits. And the addition of powerhouse drummer Zach Hill made his songs sounds MASSIVE. I mean, the music wasn’t groundbreaking, revolutionary, whatever whatever whatever. But Wavves were a lot of fun. And everybody seemed to be enjoying themselves.
I had a chance to speak to Nathan after the show and I found him to be really laid back and funny. So much for the drug inhaling, glass-smashing monster that the rest of the blogosphere has made him out to be. Don’t believe the hype, kids…
Tennis System on MySpace
Ganglians on MySpace
Wavves on MySpace