Wavves @ SXSW 2009
A few weeks ago, Wavves had a meltdown on stage at a big music festival in Spain which Pitchfork called “the most epic onstage meltdown a band of their small size could conjure”. Ever since being awarded “Best New Music” from Pitchfork earlier this year, Wavves had become the target of scorn for being over-hyped from both critics and other musicians, and this latest fiasco has helped villianize the 22 year old San Diego dude behind this project even further. Since I was digging Wavves‘ records before Pitchfork even began its lovefest, I figured I would talk down the mob a little bit and put this tabloid-esque drama in some perspective. If you don’t care about Wavves or any of this hooey, then you might want to skip this read.
First, for those of you who don’t read Pitchfork regularly, let me catch you up to speed. The Wavves backlash began culminating at SXSW this year, embodied by a band called Psychedelic Horseshit wearing “Wavves Suxx” t-shirts and then giving a novel sized interview about how much they hated Wavves and fellow lo-fi acts that you can read here. Then, a few weeks ago my twitter feed was overloaded with twats from P4K’s Ryan Schreiber detailing the Wavves meltdown as it was happening as if it was the Iranian election. I then had to read it all again in a lengthy news post. Then just as I was heading to Bonnaroo, I see P4K giving news headlines to an interview with Black Lips‘ Jared Swilley where he completely trashes the kid for his meltdown. The pile-on against Nathan Williams has been so massive, that Grizzly Bear was joking about the situation:
Ed Droste: should I start a feud with Wavves 4 kicks? Maybe @crbear should? Not sure what to say, but we could just “feud and stuff”… no? feuds seems like a pretty chill thing 2 get into these days. miss wayne vs win….OG
Chris Bear: Damn… Thought about it for a while… Seems like starting a feud with wavves might be a cool move. What should I say? @edwarddroste?
Ed Droste: @crbear Maybes you could talk about some stuff that gets under your skin or some psych horseshit or sumth’n. Confused. Tired. Feuds R tiring
I know P4K enjoys breaking down their hype beneficiaries just as much as they like building them up (ie Black Kids), but the P4k dude being so awestruck with this event is a bit too much for me. I mean, had he never heard about a Wavves show before? When I saw him for the first time, his drummer didn’t show up, Williams was completely tanked drunk, and he barely played two songs. Seriously, I would way rather see the spectacle of him falling apart than a typical Wavves show. And in my time I’ve witnessed numerous on stage meltdowns that seemed much more epic than this garbage. Prefix had a good piece discussing how in the big scheme of things nobody really cares about this whole situation.
With exponentially more and more artists coming out of the woodwork every day, it has become increasingly difficult for an act to attract attention to itself. For an artist to be successful in this climate, it has to couple great studio work with a live show that wows its audience, and I feel like some of the best studio efforts coming out these days are getting overlooked because the artist can’t replicate their genius on record to the live setting. You know, back when Cat Power was churning out brilliant albums, her concerts were notorious for mental breakdowns and abrupt early endings via meltdowns. Now that she has sobered up and/or been replaced by a robot, her live shows are professional and reliable, and her studio work sucks. I know the concept of the mentally unstable artist is cliche’ these days, but I am still a fan. I don’t think art has to be diminished by its creator’s inability to showcase it in terms of others’ expectations.
And of course it is those less talented than Wavves that are making the biggest noise. I mean, did anybody even know who Psychedelic Horseshit was until they started talking smack about everyone? If you are a musician who seriously thinks Wavves sounds likes TV On The Radio, you might want to change your profession. And I really want to like the Black Lips and show my ATL pride and all, but there’s something lame about a band who got famous from pissing in each others’ mouths being all self-righteous about things. Trying to make someone out as a “dick” when you destroy other people’s property and piss off anybody you can to further your own career is hypocritical at best. Those guys are way more fun when they aren’t taking themselves so seriously. Maybe they are just mad this little kid made a better album on his laptop than they will their entire career.
Now, I don’t think Nathan Williams is Kurt Cobain or anything, but he makes good records. I understand if you aren’t into his No Agey style, it’s not for everyone. And I totally get that a lot of people, especially musicians, resent the fact that some people get an unfair and unearned amount of attention and praise, but there are far less talented people getting way more love in the world of music than Nathan Williams. I mean, it’s not like he’s Kanye West going around telling everyone he is the second coming of Christ and then laying a turd at Bonnaroo last year. Nathan Williams didn’t award himself the “Best New Music” title. When he saw the Psychedelic Horseshit guys wearing the “Wavves Suxx” shirts, he went and got his picture taken with them. I love a good beef, but there’s nothing here. Just a bunch of jealous opportunists trying to squeeze out some more attention for themselves.
- Posted by Davy Minor on June 21, 2009 at 6:08 pm