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Juan Wauters, The Buttertones, Beach Party at the Echoplex, Monday July 6th 2015 Review

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Beach Party


I was so surprised to see so many people around the stage for Juan Wauters, who was opening the night at the Echoplex on Monday night. Not only there was a good crowd but these people were on fire, cheering, screaming, laughing a lot, especially the girls, my god they got crazy! And I knew nothing about this guy, but he was funny, charming and was singing with this bold almost-yelling voice, often reaching some great heights, which was triggering some other eardrum-piercing shrieks from the girls behind me. Performing in front of a blinking electric bulb, he first played a song on piano, then took his acoustic guitar alone and was soon joined by two other musicians on drums and guitar, but the whole thing was very stripped down, dominated by Juan’s powerful vocal chords and strong upbeat melodies. He was almost running away while playing, moving around and strangely, his songs sounded like some Beatles leftover sung in a charming south American accent. With a background sheet saying ‘Who Me?’ (the title of his album) around a funny caricature, Juan didn’t have to win over his audience, and he and his sweet and simple songs were so easy to love, songs like ‘She Might Get Shot’, which, yes, sounded like early Beatles. Surprisingly, Juan, who seems to carry his music heroes in his music, was also the singer of the punk band, The Beets…

The Uruguay native left his country in 2002 to live with his father in a basement in Queens and the story says that Juan turned to music because of his isolation, inspired by his Jackson Heights neighborhood. There was something touching about him, his music seemed innocent and pure, and at the same time, the songs sounded very personal and intimate, ‘ ‘I’ve been thinking about sinking into bed/Don’t go out/See the world from my pillow/They say I’m not well/They tell me to find me a hobby,’ he sang during ‘I Was Well’ while swirling with his guitar. Strangely many of his songs sounded as familiar as original and unexpected, he was violently strumming his guitar, shouted his lyrics while staying very melodious, and the last time I heard girls scream like that at a show, I was at a Mac Demarco gig? People wanted one more song, but his time was over, ‘we’ll finish outside’, he said jokingly. ‘I grew up thinking I’d be a hero,’ he sings on ‘El Show de Los Muertos’… but may be he already is one.

The Buttertones were a complete different story, they had a sort of retro vibe with some songs going into beach-goth freaking out in a grand finale, with deep bass lines and intense surf guitars. There was some bravery in their music, especially in the singer’s delivery, which, if you could listen carefully, had even some Paul Banks’ tonality. However, their pop was much more upbeat than Interpol, much sunnier too, although it could also go into languid for-lovers-only slow songs. I would say that their most original side was the addition of a saxophone, an instrument you never see in this kind of bands, and sax on the beach seemed like a good idea. They were loud, had something a bit tropical at times, with complex textures, oldies melodies detaching from the fuzz, and they totally looked fearless, although unbelievably young – hard to believe, their facebook page says they formed during the winter of 2012 while they sound like summer.

But it was Beach Party’s residency, and although they rather installed a rock party than a beach party – and I am mostly talking about their stage dynamic and their classic rock moves here – they brought a lot of fun inside the Echoplex . With power choruses, shared vocals, high multi-harmonies, they had a full sound with a punk, let’s-mess-up-this-place dynamic. And the beach part? They certainly had a bit of surf in the guitars and a song ‘Can’t Surf’ (not the FiDLAR song, not that it was too far from that in spirit) was recorded with the help of Ty Segall. But over everything they had this 60’s garage-punk-surf-rock rage, giving a rowdy spectacle with a dangerous energy,… well, I received a piece of drumstick on the hand at one point, proof they were not faking anything, and If I tell you they have shared stages with Best Coast, Bass Drum of Death, and Black Lips, you will not be surprised. Garage rock, may be, but there was another element behind their shouted-out vocals and looks of rockers, a strong desire to have fun (title of one of their songs) under a psychedelic hangover after a beer bash.

Many more pictures here

1 Comment

  1. The Shallow End Divers on September 8, 2015 at 8:27 am

    We’re a garage band from Boston called The Shallow End Divers. Our latest single is called Dead Mans Ladder. Thanks for your time.

    -The Shallow End Divers

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