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Wavves At Webster Hall, Saturday, September 24th, 2011

Their set was messy but real and worth it. I wrote that back in August 2010 about Wavves shambolic Great Bowery Ballroom gig. It stayed with me the rest of the year and ended up my fave concert of 2010.

So 13 months later at Webster Hall on Saturday, I was thrilled to catch em again and Wavves were anything but the loudmouth, drunk, stroppy, but able youngsters they were once. No, not all. They were a bunch of professional rock musicians going through songs from all points of Wavves catalog and playing em sharp and smart, in tune, on time, minimal talk (just the usual without you I'm nothing stuff)

I have no strong opinion about the set one way or another.

No, wait. I was very disappointed but if I was seeing them for the first time I wouldn't have been.

The surf and turf weed loving Nathan Williams seemed liked the rehab had gone very well as he lead his band through a JAMC inspired, series of noise punk interrupted by indelible melodies. Nathan has only one trick on stage but it is a goodie. He starts a song alone on guitar so we can hear it's a real song and then the band joins in so we can get off on the clutter. They do it a lot, even on more of the same new songs like "Fun" ("I love my Mom" Nathan announces… I am sure she is very proud)

And the set isn't coming close to catching fire," Even "Post Acid" doesn't get them at it. The bands coolness is too cool and  the mosh pit isn't moshing, the rest of the band remain in the background and Nathan, on the far left hand side, isn't doing much of anything. He projects a professional ease, even when he puts his head down and let's loose with a string of punky surf riffs on song after song. There is a disconnect. Maybe the 730p set has put them off their game?

The great thing about Nathan, about Wavves, is how they used weakness as strength: the sameyness of their songs merge together well like a wall of melodic power. But on Saturday that wasn't happening either. Not "Super Soaker" Not  "King Of the Beach". Not born to be sung along "Linus Spearhead. It sounds good but it doesn't feel like a unique experience.

The set stagnated for 40 minutes before getting it together on the last three songs, a killer "I Want To Meet Dave Grohl", a song the fans love as much as I do, starts the first serious moshing of the night, and "Green Eyes" -a terrific version, keeps it going.

But in the end this wasn't a terrible set, it was  an OK set. But it wasn't the Bowery Ballroom either  If Nathan has only one trick, melody from noise plus surf chords, and based upon the new songs last night that would appear to be the case, he better work on his live show. This won't make it.

Grade: B

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