Live Review: Wavves, These Are Powers, Vampire Hands @ The Market Hotel (2009.03.28)

wavves-2Photo credit: Tom Pavlich

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

MP3: Vampire Hands – Opium Typhoon

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

MP3: So Wavves – Bored (Anamanaguchi cover)

Being a Baltimore-based college student living in New York, I’d like to take some time to walk through a few of the differences I’ve noticed between shows in New York and Baltimore. In my relatively meager experience with the two, I’ve noticed that Baltimore’s dancing tends to be more self-satisfying. The wild jittering and jumping involved at concerts in our fair city serves a whole different purpose than in New York or Brooklyn. Baltimore’s dancing is more inward-based. You’re bouncing ecstatically, shaking your head from side to side pretending you’re insane…it’s all for you. Every single person in front of the stage looks stupid, and nobody cares even a little bit.

Brooklyn shows, however, utilize dancing in a whole different way. I arrived at the so-DIY-you-can’t-find-it Market Hotel last Saturday night to a packed room of youngin’s collaborating in clusters of 2-5. While they existed in groups, it was easy to see that the hipsters were (comically) more self-attentive than they were involved in their respective circles. This apparent self-obsession was the first negative foreshadowing of how these New Yorkers work at indie concerts.

Vampire Hands’ unfamiliar presence took the stage at the crack of 9:30. They consisted of a drummer, a guitarist, a bassist, and a dude who sang while he messed with some looping tools and circuit-bent electronics. Aside from reminding me that standar guitar/bass/keyboard/drums bands still exist in this ever nonconforming world, they also brought a couple of really great tunes. The opening portion of their set lived out its life in the so-so area of the indie spectrum, consisting of their less structured, noisier tracks (which I advise they stay away from).

wavves-3Three or four songs through their set, however, Vampire Hands started to contain themselves. The liberating shouts that characterized the first bunch of tracks became few and far between, in their place advanced the spidery guitarwork of Chris Rose. Each note, while independent, seemed to take part in one giant yo-yo string knot around the others (a quality not well emphasized on their recorded output). This combined with their near-primal percussive tendencies to show that Vampire Hands have some serious potential. Unfortunately,Vampire Hands’ musical merits only received a respectable amount of attention when they were able to captivate and stimulate the audience with their live show.

In contrast, the audience was stimulated from the outset by the These Are Powers. The 8-10 songs they ran through were mostly from their newest, All Aboard Future, and they seemed to be in good taste. The uber-produced and glossy feel of the album was replaced with a more sweat-encrusted atmosphere, or maybe that was just a side-effect of the elevated temperature generated by the room full of dub-dancing kids.

While the Brooklyn youth did appear to enjoy their set, there seemed to be something missing from the music. Aside from one brilliantly executed piece of fuzzed-out catharticism (which I still cannot find online), involving some drowned out screams and more feedback than my ears should be able to withstand, the moods conveyed in their official recordings were either drastically changed or not there at all. That being said, their show was still enjoyable, including its newfound “dirty” setting.

The same held true for the night’s headliner: Wavves. I had previously watched a few sub-par videos of the noise-pop partiers live and lowered my expectations accordingly. The uncomfortable, childish falsetto-to-regular singing switch ups that made Nathan Williams’ last album, Wavvves, so damn catchy didn’t exactly translate well into a two-man show (at least, that was what the videos indicated).


The real story is that Wavves is a hell of a lot of fun live. The awkward falsetto portions of his live videos completely vanish when you’re with him in the room. The distorted guitar at once soothes you as well as makes you want to hop around like an idiot who’s had too much espresso, while thunderesque percussion charges through your eardrums like a torpedo through water. He opted to stray away from the less ordered tracks, clinging more to the rampaging verse-chorus-verse-chorus party tunes. It was a fine choice on his part to play the fun jams, albeit disappointing to not hear how he would reproduce his experimental tracks.

The venue’s landscape was a mess. Granted, I’m a pretty small character, but the forces acting on the crowd in these New York shows are way too overwhelming. I felt powerless to survive in the malicious entity that was the Wavves show. Rather than moving about for the sake of personal joy, it was as if these people wanted to somehow absorb the metaphysical force that Nathan Williams emits. My ribs wound up hurting afterwards, presumably from being crushed so heavily.

I spoke to my Queens-raised friend about it, apparently that’s just how shows work up in the cold north. I didn’t dig it; I think I’ll stick to Baltimore shows. But hey, if you want something a little more intense, by all means check out a show in Brooklyn.

Related posts

  1. Live Review / Photos: The Thermals, the Shaky Hands, Point Juncture WA @ the Black Cat (2009.05.13)Photo credit (The Thermals, Point Juncture): Greg Szeto Photo credit...
  2. Live Review: Asobi Seksu @ Rock and Roll Hotel (2009.03.28)Photo credit: Fiz [Audio clip: view full post to listen]...
  3. Live Review: Caverns Video Release Party feat. A Place to Bury Strangers, True Womanhood @ Rock and Roll Hotel (2009.06.05)Caverns @ Aural States Fest We’d prepared you for weeks...
  4. Album Review: Wavves – Wavvves (Fat Possum)[Audio clip: view full post to listen] MP3: Wavves –...
  5. Album Review: These Are Powers – All Aboard Future (Dead Oceans)[Audio clip: view full post to listen] MP3: These Are...

3 Responses to “Live Review: Wavves, These Are Powers, Vampire Hands @ The Market Hotel (2009.03.28)”

  1. The So Bored cover is almost better than the original.

  2. your mother says:

    what i gather is that nolan is used to partying and “show”-ing with fluffy sheep. there is nothing angry about a new york show. the friendliness of the south is replaced by the independence and strong wills of the north.
    how else can we survive the cold? but something can definitely be said about fans enjoying the music so much the intensity is there, which makes the experience that more enjoyable.

    just avoid the drugs

  3. Baaaaa Ma says:

    I just dont believe you are his mother- no I just dont think so but about the sheep -you might have something there. Think though – sheep are fluffy and warm – just the thing for cold northern nites.

Leave a Reply