Best Coast and Wavves don't live up to the hype in Vancouver
At the Rickshaw on Thursday, February 18
Defying all expectations, only one dude showed up at the Rickshaw on Thursday looking like a shoo-in for the website Look at This Fucking Hipster. Considering the night was coheadlined by two of the hottest American indie acts to never call Williamsburg home, Vancouver should be ashamed of itself. If the Rickshaw is going to go to the trouble of tracking down Pabst Blue Ribbon for you (at a barista wages–friendly $4.50 a can, no less), the least the city can do is rise to the occasion. At least the dude who arrived in full costume did it right. The Royal Tenenbaums–style semi-fro, accessorized by a John McEnroe–type headband, was a great start. Where it really got good, though, was the striped tank top, cartoon-character-adorned blue gym shorts, and sneakers with purposely mismatched socks. Earning him bonus points for an above-and-beyond effort was the fact that he made the trek to the Downtown Eastside in the pelting snow and sleet. Now that’s dedication.
Speaking of slavish devotion to a cause, Montreal’s No Joy, which opened the three-band bill, displayed no shortage of that. Augmented by a bassist and drummer, the duo of singer-guitarist Laura Lloyd and guitarist Jasamine White-Gluz distilled the best of Sonic Youth, the Stooges, the Jesus and Mary Chain, and pre-stardom Nirvana into one great, art-damaged wall of post-everything noise-pop. As on the band’s 2010 debut disc, Ghost Blonde, the vocals were entirely inaudible, but that did nothing to detract from the power of the set.
No Joy looked great, with White-Gluz spending the entire performance with her long blond hair in her face, and Lloyd’s flannel attire and stringy locks making her an í¼ber-cool cross between Kurt Cobain and Kim Gordon. The band sounded even better during a performance that was all too short. Things ended with the two up-and-comers on their knees frantically working their effects pedals while their guitars made a night-terror squall. No Joy would prove to be the unexpected highlight of the night.
Middle-billed Wavves, on the other hand, was easily the most loved by the crowd, which was a mix of guys in beards and nerd-chic glasses and normal-looking chicks who showed up ready to dance. Judging by his beyond-hyperactive stage demeanour, diminutive singer Nathan Williams probably spent more than his fair share of time in the principal’s office during his elementary-school years. Buddy might be palming his Ritalin, but he definitely isn’t living life straight-edge, as he announced early on, “I’m drunker than all of you,” and later noted that B.C. has great weed.
Right from the point when Wavves crashed onto the stage with a loud-and-sloppy cover of Black Flag’s “Nervous Breakdown” the party was on, with the roadies fuelling the festivities by firing inflatable green aliens and dollar-store beach balls into the audience. The mosh pit was an animal show, but that couldn’t hide the fact that Wavves has a ways to go before its ragged and snotty garage pop matches the energy of its live show. As entertaining as offerings like “Idiot” were—especially when Williams was too wasted to notice his guitar had cut out—all too often the songs aren’t there. This little problem is admittedly camouflaged by the singer’s sugar-jacked look-at-me, look-at-me stage persona—he’s so shameless, he ended up smooching bassist Stephen Pope at one point. But if Wavves is hoping for something bigger than Pitchfork’s flavour-of-the-month status, it has some work to do.
De facto headliners Best Coast are pretty much the toast of tastemakers everywhere at the moment, but the trio ended up in an unenviable position. Where Williams spent an hour playing class clown, Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino pretty much just stood there and played her lo-fi songs. And for all the accolades that have been heaped upon her since the release of last year’s Crazy for You, it was difficult to see what all the fuss is about.
Best Coast wasn’t necessarily bad, and indeed when Cosentino announced “Get ready to dance, mofos!” before the peppy “Boyfriend”, the audience did exactly as instructed. Ultimately, though, the set left one thinking that everything the band is doing was done better back in the ’90s by footnotes like the Blake Babies and Belly. Not that this mattered to the dude angling for immortality on Look at This Fucking Hipster. He spent “Boyfriend” dancing like a, well, mofo, with an evidently late-to-the-party chick in blue gym shorts and a Williamsburg-issue oversized T-shirt perched on his shoulders. Even though neither of them were clutching a Pabst Blue Ribbon can, at least two people on this night did Vancouver’s Brooklyn wannabes proud.