It was like a really underground concert, you wouldn’t “get” it
By Peter Lacerenza
After I first started listening to them them during my junior year of high school, I could not help but dream about attending my first Wavves show. Missing out on the tour that followed their sophomore album, King of the Beach, I would have to wait two years before getting another chance. When the news of their newest album, Afraid of Heights emerged, I leapt on the opportunity. The concert gods would provide me a chance to see them live in an ironically named DIY venue in Bushwick, and simultaneously presented me with one of the best twentieth birthday gifts I could have asked for. Consider it my hip wet dream come true.
Upon riding the 4 and L lines to Grand Street, I emerged in what seemed a gritty neighborhood, festooned with barbed wires and broken twenty-something dreams. I had never been to Bushwick before, but have been told that it would probably be the only neighborhood in Brooklyn that I could still even think about being able to afford. Pondering this during the walk through the April cold, I soon sighted upon Shea Stadium.
The venue was tucked in the second floor of a naturally nondescript building. I headed up the stairs into what I would find to be an extremely lenient space, where suspicious hand-rolled cigarettes or bottles were hardly scrutinized, if not encouraged. As the crowd filed in during the first opener, I settled into a spot left of center in the second row. The ratio of baby moshers was perhaps a little higher than one would like, in their heathered NPR t-shirts, nursing communal flasks of Fireball. There were points when shit got a little too real, but that wasn’t to say that it would be another washout show. If anything, it was the band’s paying homage to their SoCal garage roots, fighting the temptation to cash out at in the halls of Webster and Williamsburg in choosing a more genuine and intimate space to perform.
Though I had never really listened to opener FIDLAR prior to the show, they played with a refreshing tenacity, their lead singer accepting drinks from the crowd and jeering along with the angsty malcontents. As the band finished up, the members of Wavves caught my eye, emerging amidst a flurry of roadies into a room that had long since soured with pot smoke and spilled Genesee. Lead singer Nathan Williams & Co. were truly in their element, with Nathan even taking a crowd-surfing interlude during the jam packed set.
The room was electric. Although a fractured arm disqualified me from heading into the more rough and tumble corners of the room, I still managed to enjoy myself a little too much. Though my ears rang maddeningly for the days that followed, the dancing and the music was more than I had initially thought. Though not exactly at the level of astrophysics, the science behind good concerts is built on the rapport of spectator and performer alike.
Though many indie shows disintegrate into douchebag displays—one Animal Collective concert that I attended featured a select few that were too preoccupied reading Toni Morrison to be bothered by everything else that was going on—this show managed to put all pretentions aside. Starting with crowd pleasers “Idiot,” and “Post Acid,” the band went on to play blasts from the past like “No Hope Kids” and new singles “Afraid of Heights” and “Sail to the Sun.” A satisfying amalgam of everything I wanted to hear and more, the show put on by Wavves not only cemented my respect for the occasionally maligned band, but wound up being one the better birthday gifts that I’ve ever had the pleasure of giving myself.