REVIEW: Wavves, Oxford Art Factory 15.05.12

Today we’re going to add another element to my “I review gigs I was going to go to anyway” formula. We’re going to contrast and compare WAVVES set at Groovin’ the Moo Canberra with their sideshow performance last Tuesday, within the context of a broader review of the latter gig at Oxford Art Factory. I know! Doesn’t it sound way exciting? Can you even contain yourself?

Scene: Groovin’ the Moo Canberra. It’s about 6 o’clock. It’s fucking cold outside, but you’re in a tent, and you’ve just got your disco on with the delightfully flamboyant Beni so you’ve decided to do something huge- you’ve decided to take your jacket off. I know right? Pretty big move. It’s like 4 degrees outside. And you’re pretty keen. Second row from the front, licking your lips in anticipation because within moments surf-rock gods, Wavves are going to infect this dance tent with a very different kind of vibe.

Scene: Oxford Art Factory. It’s about 10 o’clock. Everyone in the room has paid $50 to see Wavves. A mixture of Bondi surfers and commonplace Surry Hills hipsters are wandering around the dark and slightly seedy room, clutching beers and mixed spirits in their hands. The lights overhead burn red. You hear the twang of guitars being set-up from behind the curtain, stand up on your tip toes with an eager sparkle in your eyes. This is going to be a rollickin’ good time. The lights change colour. Now you’re bathed in blue, yearning, yearning…

I can’t sustain this narrative so I’m cutting it off here. You have the atmospheres. And the two can be easily contrasted. The former was fun. I could see exactly what was happening with two big eyes gazing right up at Nathan Williams’ cute face. And that was awesome fun and we rocked around and jumped up and down and squealed shrilly. Wavves are just plain better live. Recordings can’t capture the fury of their sets. But then two days later we went to their gig. And it was fury x 1000. There was banter, drunkenness, yelling, crowd-surfing, bruised shins. No one in this crowd was waiting patiently to see Muscles. These people wanted to hear surf rock and they wanted to mosh and revel in a high energy performance.

Sures played beforehand. Someone may have played before them. I don’t know. I was probably eating Indian food when that was happening. I am not going to write about this experience, because I’m worried I will offend someone. Singer Jonas Nicholls is nasal. When I was little I wanted to be a bassist with long hair, wearing a big t-shirt like their Beth. It’s refreshing to see someone like that. And I think Sures have shoegaze/ surf-rock potential, but they need a little more energy, a little more polish, and should avoid harmonising.

And yeah I fucking love Wavves. Within minutes a man in a suit had jumped on stage and then launched himself onto the crowd. The band played on, riling up their audience and falling around the stage. I let myself be pummelled on the outskirts of the mosh for a while. Have you ever had a man accidentally grind on you? And watched your boyfriend flailing wildly as he is swept away by a wild surf/moshing crowd? That was me. So I headed to the back balcony to sit a leather couch and let the surf feel wash over me. I always liked the idea of listening to live music without watching, and just letting the sound do all the work (kind of like The Voice except less shameless). They regaled us with a story about a person who would psyche himself up before hitting the stage at Groovin’ the Moo by crying “YOU’RE BETTER THAN MICHAEL JACKSON.” My bet is on it being Andrew W.K. (who rules and is fun fact, a motivational speaker). The power of their set was only complimented by them bellowing that at irregular intervals. When the power on stage cut off for everyone except Williams, he and drummer,  Jacob Cooper, serenaded the audience with an intimate rendition of Aerosmith’s ‘Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.’ And they covered Sonic Youth’s ‘100%’ and played all the crowd favourites, from ‘Green Eyes’ to ‘In the Sand.’

This was a gig to remember, even if it’s partly because you were feeling quite sore the following day. And it was worth it.

Want some Wavves-style fun? Need to keep the dream alive? Play their video game, Weed Demon, HERE.

Words by Hannah Story.


Hannah’s best friend describes her writing as 'like Hunter S. Thompson, except less engaging and less good.' Her boyfriend says she’s 'a good writer, but couldn’t beat Ernest Hemingway in a fight.' Apt. If you want a healthy dose of shoegaze, look no further.