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Over The Weekend: Wavves, Ganglians, El Paso Hot Button at The Lounge on Elm Street

Wavves, Ganglians, El Paso Hot Button
The Lounge on Elm Street
October 9, 2009

Better than: a show where you can hear every note played with precision.

There was a definite, palpable energy flowing through The Lounge on Elm Street on Friday night.

Maybe it was just all the booze; this show, after all, was a BYOB event. And, making matters even more interesting, it was also an all-ages affair. Do the math: It adds up to quite the fiery combination. Then add in a bill of high-energy, lo-fi acts known for thrashing about on stage, on top of that? Well, suffice it to say that the room had the potential to turn into a madhouse--for better or for worse. 

That was part of what made it such a captivating night, though: Everyone was watching, waiting to see how things would turn out and how the night would end. They did so excitedly, sure, but maybe with a little precaution too. Who knew what was going to happen?

Even Nathan Williams, the man behind the Wavves moniker and surely not a stranger to such displays, seemed a little concerned. After just the second song in his quick set, Williams addressed the crowd, which, just before the stage, had turned into something of an ugly mosh pit. Bodies were flailing about in every direction, hands were reaching on stage and pulling on Williams' gear, drinks were flying left and right. It was all a little much--even for him.

"Just a reminder," Williams said while catching his breath between songs, "remember we're all here to have fun. So be cool."

The aside worked; though the crowd continued to thrash along with Williams as he and newly added drummer Zach Hill slammed through the set, it did so with more of a controlled vigor from that point onward. Perhaps, at that point, the crowd simply became enamored with Hill, who awed the audience with his ferocious drumming, almost knocking over his toms with each blow.

As for Williams, the notoriously mercurial performer was, if anything, fairly subdued, at least according to reported standards. There were no blow-ups--just a fast and heavy display, as he flicked a brace-bearing wrist over his guitar strings in a blur. Nonetheless, it was a surprisingly entertaining offering: less noisy and far more melodic in person than on tape, even if any vocals, already low in the mix on record, were even more buried in the venue's PA mix.

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It helped, of course, that the supporting acts also put on commendable shows. Sacramento's Ganglians, like labelmates Teenage Cool Kids, entertained with its brand of lo-fi group sing-along pop, although theirs is a more groove-based, psychedelic version than the Denton-based outfit's. Meanwhile, first opener, one-man band El Paso Hot Button, captivated with his impressive guitar play and fancy kickdrum footwork, offering up catchy, lo-fi blues-rock-influenced songs in as engaging a performance as the artist, who stops through quite often, has shown in Dallas of late.

In all, it was lo-fi night worth its hi-fi hype.

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
I went to this show mostly out of curiosity, to be honest. Prior to this performance, I actually kind of hated Wavves. On record, I still don't love it. It just gives me a headahce. Live, though, in a high-energy room like The Lounge was on Friday, its draw was easy to pick up on.

By The Way: The Lounge has to be losing its shirt without its liquor license. There wasn't a single line at the bar all night. Mixers just don't sell without the booze.
 
Random Note: The funniest scene from the night? A dude-bro in a bandana, a Gotti haircut and a pattern-printed longsleeve shirt rushing out of The Lounge, his girlfriend in tow, en route to Trees, yelling back at his mate, "We are not gonna fucking miss Days of the New." You couldn't have drawn up a more stereotypical fan of that band.

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