“Baby Say Goodbye,” Wavves. King of the Beach has an appealingly bratty quality, with Nathan Williams’ plaintive pipsqueak regularly dropping acid on those sunbaked Beach Boys harmonies. Brian Wilson is about as lazy a reference point you can pick these days, but some things in pop never grow old, and Williams borrows the best of those Surf City harmonies and modernizes them with production tricks learned from Animal Collective and others. It all comes together exactly once, on the album-closing suite “Baby Say Goodbye.” As bouncy and bright as July itself, the song surprises you by turning suddenly into an anthem, as Williams sings the title over and over again the way his forebears used to lament that God only knows. A song for the season if there ever was one.
(track via hamtunes)
It’s interesting that you would pick this as the one time when everything comes together, because this is one of the more frustrating tracks on the album for me precisely because it just barely misses building to perfection. The track absolutely is striving for an anthemic moment at its close, but it doesn’t get there because of how bland and emotionless Williams’ vocal sounds as he repeats the title again and again, leaving the backing vocals to do all the work. Obviously it’d be ridiculous to expect great displays of vocal prowess here, but there’s not enough feeling in the delivery to justify the lyrical build-up throughout the song (not that Wavves is alone in that problem, it bothers me about a lot of indie rock), and what should be a big finish is undermined by the continual “oh yeah”s until the end when letting the instrumental fully take over would’ve been a wiser choice. It’s still an enjoyable track, but I always hate when a song comes close to greatness and falls a little short.
Jeff Tweedy making a surprise guest appearance during Mavis Staples’ set
Lollapalooza day 1 has come and gone, so here’s a collection of my semi-random thoughts and musings about the day (minus Lady Gaga and Cut Copy’s aftershow, which will get their own posts soon-ish):
-We missed most of B.O.B., who my sister wanted to see, due to the line to get in being super-long. We got to his stage just in time to hear Airplanes (which was meh) and a cover of MGMT’s Kids, which was surprisingly good. I think everyone who was at Lolla that early was at B.O.B.’s set since it was packed, and the sheer size of the crowd at that point freaked us out a little about how difficult it would be to get close for Lady Gaga later.
-We walked to the complete other side of the festival, which takes about 15 minutes, to go see Wavves. Luckily, Nathan Williams didn’t freak out and have an onstage breakdown (although that would’ve been entertaining) and their show was decent if not spectacular. There were a few moments where the band took shots at each other, and it was hard to tell if it was just joking around or if they were actually pissed, especially with their reputation.
- After Wavves, we got some food and water which were priced surprisingly reasonably. Lollapalooza also offers free refills on water at a few water stations throughout the park which is a VERY nice perk and definitely kept me from dehydrating. We took our food, sat on the grass, and listened to Los Amigos Invisibles who played a good mix of their own stuff and some well-chosen classic pop songs. I had never heard of them before today, so they were a pleasant surprise.
-Mavis Staples was up next, bringing some gospel music to an oddly receptive crowd. Mavis is 70 years old and put on a great show. Her new album is produced by Jeff Tweedy of Wilco and he made a surprise guest appearance on two songs, garnering a very enthusiastic crowd reaction. Mavis’ voice is still in fine shape, and her band is excellent, but some of the best moments of her set were when she would just repeat lyrics of her songs spoken-word style and make comments like, “Our record comes out September 14th…and that’s not too far from…December 25th, so buy 6 copies and give them as gifts”. The new material all sounded good, although not too different from her other songs, so the album will most likely be enjoyable, if she’s your cup of tea. They closed the set with a crowd sing-along to “I’ll Take You There” that was a lot of fun.
-Next up was Cymbals Eat Guitars, whose audience was comprised almost entirely of stoners. I had 3 groups in front of me all smoking multiple times before/during the set, so the whole place reeked of weed to the point of ridiculousness. Their set wasn’t quite as good as the night before, and they cut what I thought was the best new track from the set. It turns out one new track might actually be named “Gary Condit”, I thought they were just fucking around when they said that yesterday but apparently not since they said it again today. The audience connection was a little better today, with some more banter and Joe opening his eyes a tiny bit more.
-Once Cymbals Eat Guitars finished, we rushed over to the main stage for the last half of Devo’s set, getting there just in time to hear Whip It!, which was awesome of course. The rest of their set was excellent as well, with multiple costume changes and all the hits you want to hear. The guys in Devo are OLD though, and it shows in how ridiculous they look in the costumes nowadays. Their set made me wish I could jump back in time 25 years or so and see them at their peak, when everything about their look/gimmick worked and them being in short shorts was fun, not kinda sad.
- After Devo’s set, we moved forward in the crowd to where we stood for the next 4 and a half hours. The main stage has a T-shaped barricade that you have to go around to get really close to the front. We managed to get around the barricade and into the area of people who had been waiting for Gaga most of the day. This was great but also meant being packed like sardines for the hour between Devo and Hot Chip, Hot Chip’s set, and the hour between them and Lady Gaga. Extremely uncomfortable, but worth it.
-Hot Chip did the best they could, but their set was completely forgettable. The crowd was largely indifferent, and I know I was wishing they would just finish so we could get to the main event faster even though I think they’re alright. The band order should’ve been switched with Devo going in their spot, since they at least have hits to get people excited and could better deal with a semi-hostile crowd.
- I wish I could’ve seen Dirty Projectors and Chromeo but it just wasn’t meant to be. Both went on too late in the day for it to be worth losing our spot at the main stage to see, and I’ve seen Dirty Projectors before so it was an easy call to skip them. I could hear a little bit of Chromeo’s set over at the main stage and it sounded good though.