Making Wavves

Disclaimer: the music scene in DC stinks. 

To wit, the most notable DC exports are Fugazi, Thievery Corporation, and John Philip Sousa.  Respectable groups, I guess, and while we all appreciate Sousa come Independence Day, no band from the Beltway has really made it out of the minors.  But the starkest reminder of the city’s emaciated scene is the lack of quality acts touring here.  The Decemberists will cruelly skip us over.  So will Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.  And Arcade Fire?  After cutting a stellar album inspired by the American suburbs, they’re spending most of their time hobnobbing around Europe.

Now a disclaimer to the disclaimer: it is only February, it is winter, it is cold, and to boot, the sky is presently collapsing upon the eastern half of the country.  Any rock band worth their weight in irony is not going to risk frostbite to ensure we the musically ravenous are appeased.  I will stow my pitchfork for now.

And it’s certainly not all bad.  Last night, we went to the famed 9:30 Club to see Wavves and Best Coast.  2010 saw a resurgence in retro-minded surf rock and these bands were atop the crest.  Of the two, Best Coast has enjoyed more popularity, largely due to the endearing wistfulness of their sound and singer Bethany Cosentino.  Her doo-wop vocals waver between reverb and a Wall of Sound richness, channeling a summery idyll along the way.  It is a cutesy approach to emerging adult angst, a recipe that seems to call for redheads and sand…

The opening band, headed by Consentino’s boyfriend Nathan Williams, was Wavves.  Shaped with similar ideas in mind, they offered what I guess is suitable parallel to Best Coast’s sunshine treatment.  Rather than 50s and 60s style, these guys embrace late 70s, early 80s punk.  Which I like.  But they performed it with stereotypical Generation Y arrogance.  Which we don’t like.  Save for a couple songs, they seemed more intent on washing up flotsam than they did on producing solid music.  And, unfortunately, their hair was only enough distraction for a song or two…

Anyway, summer will likely bring better fare.  And as far as the higher brow goes, Washington is overflowing with the stuff.  Later this month, we’re going to try for a concert featuring a medley of Americana songs, including Aaron Copland, Irving Berlin, and George Gershwin.  Not exactly Bach, but in the nation’s capital, you couldn’t find anything more fitting.  And it’ll hold us over until Arcade Fire remembers where home is.

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