Smells like cheap nostalgia

Hawnay Troof / Wavves, Bang Bang Club, 8/12/09

Dezember 11th, 2009 | 0 Kommentare ...  

Smells like cheap nostalgia


A cold damp fog had swallowed half of the Fernsehturm and chased away a hardy handful of tourists lost in search of Glühwein as I made my way through the Hackescher Hof. At the S-Bahn a busker in an alpine hat had stationed himself at the foot of the stairs with a digeriedoo improvised from plastic guttering and some bongos. Low drones echoed through the deserted station. A grim evening indeed to witness grunge revivalists Wavves do their oh so lo-fi thang at the Bang Bang.

It’s been a busy couple of years for Nathan Williams a.k.a Wavves, who seems to have captured the nano-second attention span of the blogosphere with two albums, a very public breakdown at the Primavera Sound Festival and the co-option of Jay Reatard’s rhythm section. Having taken delivery of an eggshell blue Fender Mustang his transformation into a low budget, Cobain-lite seems inevitable, if somewhat depressing.

Slung together and largely interchangeable songs of teenage complaint, performed in standard power trio format with studied casualness, followed one another in quick succession before Williams’ voice threatened to give up the ghost. Boredom, weed and California Goths pretty much some up the range of his writing.

A self-pitying box bedroom rebel without the energy for nihilism, Williams’s charm is that at least he doesn’t appear to take himself or his song writing too seriously. Mumbly vocals treated with reverb and interspersed with lalala choruses driven by Billy Hayes’ drumming were characteristic of the set, the only audible difference being that Williams managed to locate the off switch on the overdrive pedal before the last handful of scrappily put together songs.

A request for Mickey Mouse was rejected on the grounds that they forgot to bring their drum machine and bassist Stephen Pope offered squeaky vocal support from beneath his ‘fro which was thankfully not accepted.

In the ever tightening circle of revivalism, the early nineties are now far enough away for today’s teens (and marketing departments) to exercise selective nostalgia. Originality, like authenticity, can be a hard notion to pin down – a bad enough copy can, through the magic of entropy, emerge sounding fresher than the original but these grunge tropes seemed anachronistic, a musical Loch Ness monster. The busker, still happily playing to no one as I left, seemed to be trying harder.

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