By Stephen Kane
On a warm and humid day in Philadelphia, welcoming L.A.’s native FIDLAR and Wavves was natural as can be. Playing a sold-out show at Johnny Brenda’s in Fishtown, the new-age alternative rockers created a commotion like no other.
With an appearance on David Letterman, multiple shows at South by Southwest and a newly released record, Wavves continues to surf along their abundant success. “Afraid Of Heights” is the fourth album released by Wavves, and second album to receive proper studio treatment.
Front-man Nathan Williams has left the home recording process for a more polished production process. FIDLAR released their self-titled debut album earlier this year, a very promising record with enough straight forward garage rock to satisfy any punk’s loud-guitar needs.
Both hailing from Calif., Wavves and FIDLAR touring together is nearly a no brainer. Showcasing impressively overwhelming energy and stage presence, the bands are suitable to provide a night’s performance filled with crowd singing along and a vicious mosh-pit.
After a string of performances at South by Southwest Wavves and FIDLAR made their way together for an East Coast tour, parading rock and roll from city to city. Their stop at Johnny Brenda’s in Philadelphia on Tuesday, April 9 was no exception from an all-out stellar rock show.
Wavves’ new release “Afraid Of Heights” is an impressive alternative album with quality written rock songs allowing the band to sound fuller, abrasive and sonically superior than ever before.
This was not the first time either band has stopped by the City Of Brotherly Love. Earlier in November, FIDLAR played with Nashville rockers Jeff The Brotherhood at South Street’s Theatre Of The Living Arts, and even before that during the summer the band played with Sweden’s garage-rock pioneers The Hives for a high-energy show at the Electric Factory.
Wavves are no stranger to Philly, playing many shows since the project gained much popularity in 2009.
Playing Penn’s Landing with Guided By Voices during the summer of 2011, in October 2010 Wavves was in town with French pop-stars Phoenix for a show at The Tower Theatre, and even as early as September 2009 the band joined the stage with Philadelphia’s own Bleeding Rainbow for a performance at The First Unitarian Church.
This time around it’s sure enough to say the group has grown to be a standard staple in the diet of many punk rockers in the Philadelphia area and with a new album under their belt Wavves was more than qualified to fit a headlining bill.
On behalf of iRadioPhilly.com I was able to speak with Wavves before the performance:
TV: How are you guys today, and how was the arrival?
Stephen Pope: We saw forest fires on the drive here today.
TV: This is the fourth album released as Wavves, second album released with studio treatment. How did Wavves as a self-produced project begin?
Nathan Williams: My parents bought me a computer for Christmas, so I started working with Garageband.
TV: During that time period, sonically what were your influences?
Nathan Williams: A lot of different things, I was managing a record store in Poway so I was listening to whatever came in.
TV: How was South by Southwest this year?
Stephen Pope: Not bad. We were there five days, had seven shows. It was pretty easy, compared to the other years it seemed to go by a lot easier. We saw Thee Oh Sees on a rooftop, that was cool.
TV: How was Canada?
Stephen Pope: Canada was awesome, had some neat stories.
Nathan Williams: Yeah, Canada was wild.
TV: On the last EP, one of the songs is entitled “I Wanna Meet Dave Grohl” have you yet?
Nathan Williams: Nope I have not met Dave Grohl. We tried. I heard he was at South by Southwest.
TV: What covers do you like to do on tour when you get the chance to?
Nathan Williams: We did “Hybrid Moments” by The Misfits a couple times. We covered a couple Black Flag songs, and Sonic Youth.
TV: The album cover is inspired by the Mingins Photo Collection, what’s the story behind the cover?
Stephen Pope: There was a book in the studio that had a bunch of old tattoos, and that one was pretty cool because he was a little kid who had gotten in trouble so he had to get a knife tattooed on his forehead.
TV: I read recently that you met Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley in Philadelphia, how did that come about?
Stephen Pope: We ended up playing a show with her at The Tower Theatre, we were on tour with Phoenix and she was on the bill with her band Jenny and Johnny.
The sold out show created a buzz flowing around Johnny Brenda’s early before doors opened. Fans joined in camaraderie outside the venue, generating an excitement to see the bands performances. London’s Cheetahs started the show off with their opening set.
Prior to the show, Cheetahs played a set at Milkboy Philly and it was noticeable that they were worn and tired from the multiple shows in one day.
As Cheetahs finished their set, the crowd became more prevalent filling the second floor stage area and the third floor balcony in Johnny Brenda’s dimly lit setting.
There was an anticipation growing among the audience as they waited for FIDLAR to take the stage.
Knowing they were in for a highly energetic performance unsurpassed by many musicians, there was plenty a reason to be excited.
By the time FIDLAR took the stage, the stage floor and balcony were both packed. Even so, front man Zac Carper egged people on to join the floor in a mosh.
“What are the people on the balcony too good for the floor? Come down and mosh!” Zac exclaimed.
Needless to say, people joined the floor next to the stage and FIDLAR kicked into their set with “Stoked And Broke” and the crowd roared into a beer-throwing, crowd-surfing and lyric-chanting frenzy.
With FIDLAR’s debut album released earlier this year, there has been plenty time for Philly music fans to become acquainted enough with their repertoire of songs to sing and dance along.
A perfect rendition of “Max Can’t Surf” set the crowd aflame with passion. A member in the audience wearing a Descendants shirt inspired FIDLAR to play a cover by the Californian punk band. By the end of their set the crowd was pumped and warmed up enough to await the frantic set of songs yet to come.
After FIDLAR ended their set with “Wake Bake Skate,” the crowd was ready for Wavves to take the stage.
Nathan Williams and the band started the set with a rambunctious version of “Idiot” from the “King Of The Beach” album.
Almost instantaneously, the crowd delved into a joyous free-for-all. Bassist Stephen Pope played ferociously with velocity setting the stage for a visceral scene.
Midway through the set, Wavves played their new single off of “Afraid Of Heights,” “Demon To Lean On,” sending members of the audience to a stage diving outburst.
The remainder of the set Wavves continued to play showcasing songs throughout their catalogue. Covering Sonic Youth’s “100%,” Wavves proved to be as musically solid as ever.
With the crowd enjoying every moment and singing along to each lyric, it was a sight to see among fans of alternative music.
Wavves closed the set with a destructive version of “No Nope Kids” and sent lead singer Nathan Williams to crowd surf making his way to climb to the third floor balcony, solidifying the completion of their performance.
When all is said is done, the Californian punks rocked the house.
After an exhausting night’s worth of loud rock, the crowd was eager to make their way to the merchandise tables, grabbing records, t-shirts and other memorabilia.
It was a fun and exhilarating time for all at Johnny Brenda’s that humid April night.
Notable to mention, Wavves’ sensationally popular song “So Bored” was not incorporated into the set list this time around.
It is quite possible that the band has reached a pinnacle where their success and popularity has continually kept them motivated and has thus let them become elated with their enthralling performances.
Ahead of the new-wave pop rock scene, Wavves proves to be our generation’s answer to rock and roll, catchy choruses and lively entertainment. It’s only a matter of time until the band heads our way to Philadelphia again, and is highly recommended to catch this wave of spirited alternative rock.