When a friend and I arrived at Velvet Jones Saturday night to see Wavves, we headed straight for the balcony. The band opened by playing the theme song to the ’90s cartoon Rugrats over the speakers, then let the track loop an additional five times, consecutively. Shouts of “NOOOO” and “WHYYYY” echoed throughout the room. Others simply raised their middle fingers to the sky. A couple standing at the bar was overheard asking, “Is this part of their brand?”
Having set an interesting tone, Wavves took to the stage looking every bit the “surf punk rock” part. Think animal prints and poorly drawn tattoos (or permanent-marker doodles — we couldn’t be sure which).
With no formal introduction, they launched into “Super Soaker,” a buoyant track off of their 2010 release, King of the Beach. On cue, the room exploded into a mob of adolescent, Hawaiian-shirted fury. It only took two songs for the raw and visceral energy to possess me, and I ran down into the crowd. I was no stranger to mosh pits, but my previous experiences hadn’t prepared me for what I would encounter once I crossed that waist-high metal barrier: Everyone was smiling! Being a journalist, I couldn’t help but ask myself the tough questions: “Was this ‘meta-moshing?’” “Why are there so many disposable cameras?” “How many Tumblr blogs is my picture about to be blasted on?” But, in spite of these ridiculous and indulgent concerns, that night with Wavves changed me. It awoke the rock ’n’ roll spirit within my psyche that had been drowned out by Roc-A-Fella catch phrases, trap music breakdowns, and ambient folk hooks.
In the end, I came to a relatively simple conclusion: Wavves are shirtless, domestic-beer-drinking dudes who give teenagers a chance to jump on top of one another. And in the year 2013, that’s nothing short of a relief.