Through the thick fog of weed and teen sweat, Wavves hit me straight in the heart last Friday.
Wavves’ new album, You’re Welcome, marks the band’s first release on Nathan Williams’ own Ghost Ramp label. Wavves’ past contract with Warner Brothers Records was a source of great contention for both Williams and the label alike. Throughout You’re Welcome, Williams’ artistic freedom shines through. At their sold out Teragram Ballroom show, his love for the album combined with the appreciation of their most die-hard hometown fans to create a truly moving and unifying experience.
Nathan took the crowd where they wanted to go, punctuating fast-paced bops like “King of the Beach” and “Daisy” with driving head-bangers like “You’re Welcome” and “Million Enemies”. I hadn’t moshed in nearly 2 years, but 10 seconds into the first song, “Way Too Much”, I found myself tossing my purse to a friend and jumping into the pit. While definitely chaotic, even the pit was friendly and supportive. If someone fell, the fans around them held everyone back until they were back up again. Every 30 seconds someone was getting tossed up to crowd surf. When I saw a teenage girl in a skirt jump off the stage, my heart immediately dropped into my stomach thinking of the boundaries that are so often crossed when women decide to crowd surf at shows, especially with this girl’s age and outfit. In a shockingly heartwarming twist, the girl looked stoked the whole time. Moreover, as soon as the song ended, Williams announced to the crowd “If I see anyone getting handsy, regardless of gender or whatever anyone is wearing, I will personally come down and punch you out.” It was a comforting reassurance, and it cemented the communal feeling of the show.
Throughout the show, Williams kept his conversation to a minimum. This wasn’t a drawback though, as it granted time for the whopping 19-song set list they had in store. Having been a hardcore Wavves fan for 6 years now, I can 100% say that their songs are best when performed live. Not only are Williams, Stephen Pope, and the rotating cast of Wavves all incredible live artists, but you just haven’t truly heard "Demon to Lean On" until you’re drenched in sweat while a crusty Echo Park punk is screaming it in your ear. Jumping around and screaming with a bunch of kids in the name of punk rock was a deeply cathartic trip, for which Williams was the spirit guide. It was clear to see that the songs meant so much to so many people, and being immersed in that pool of emotion was unlike any other concert experience I’ve had.
GEMMA SCHLADOW, DJ
PHOTO BY CONCERT FIX