Wavves at the Glass House Over the Weekend

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Mary Bell/OC Weekly
Check out our Wavves/Growlers/Crystal Antlers/Abe Vigoda slideshow here!

Wavves/Growlers/Crystal Antlers/Abe Vigoda 
August 13, 2010 
The Glass House

The Hype: In 2004, an energetic 18-year-old named Sean Carlson pulled together the first Fuck Yeah Fest in Echo Park. Seven years later, and Fuck Yeah Festival (or as it's often and more appropriately called these days, "FYF Fest"), has snowballed into one of the best end-of-summer events in Southern California. All right, so this is more of a LA county thing -but it's worth battling the freeways for a couple of hours to get there. (And it's at least cheaper/cleaner than Coachella.)

Last year, they had a preview concert in Pomona a few weeks before the main FYF Fest. This past weekend, Carlson and crew wanted to warm us up once more. Keep in mind that this is not just a barebones promotion, but a full-fledged, 8-band music event. So let's try it before we buy it.... 

The Show: Acts were split between the mainstage at The Glass House proper and a smaller stage at Aladdin's Jr next door. This created a late-night mini-festival atmosphere; even though the audience was divided, the milling bodies created an energy that seeped into the empty spaces. 

When I got there, LA-based Animalitos had just hit the smaller stage. As their guitar squealed, I double-checked which bands were playing where. It quickly became clear that the two locations had two different styles: Aladdin's Jr took the more hardcore/rock bands, while the dreamier, more surf-influenced bands got the bigger stage. 

Despite the current craze for sun-soaked reverb, there were still a good amount of kids at Aladdin's Jr, and more of them squeezed in there as the night went on. No matter how saturated we become with happy summery music, there will always be a primal longing for noise and thrash. 

In fact, Glasses ("These guys came from Germany, assholes!") and Comadre brought the ruckus to Aladdin's Jr later on, invigorating the small room into high-energy hardcore-dancing. Arms flailed, legs lashed out, guitars chunked along, dropping out for breakdowns; singers led a handful of teenagers in screaming call-and-response. And really, it was fun as hell, and a good contrast to the heady incense/weed/sand intoxication emanating from the bigger stage. 

Abe Vigoda (from Chino) is trying out a new sound, one that's a little more in the vein of Wolf Parade-their minimal indie rock has grown to include a lot more synth to bolster their pop hooks. But does that electronic backing drown out what it's supposed to support? I thought it sounded fun and danceable, but my friend (and a lukewarm reception from the crowd) disagreed. In any case, they kept us warmed up for the bigger acts by playing a solid set and keeping up a friendly rapport.

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Mary Bell/OC Weekly
Long Beach locals The Growlers were next on The Glass House stage, and they quickly captivated the crowd with their haunting beach grooves. It was just like being at The Detroit Bar, but tenfold, with hundreds of people working themselves up into a dancing, undulating mass. All of their songs are mid-to-slow tempo, so what is it about The Growlers that moves people like this? It's gotta be frontman Brooks. How does he make a wispy mustache and hawaiian shirt so goddamn seductive? Is it his fisherman's hat? Or maybe it's the bumping bass and the grinding guitars. Whatever magic they're working, it's pretty powerful.

It was at this point in the night that the surf-vibes got out of control, and kids began popping up all over, determined to stage-dive and crowd-surf. Despite the efforts of The Glass House security crew, The Growlers unleashed an energy that would continue through the Wavves set. Not a moment went by when there wasn't a kid gliding on top of the crowd, supported by swaying heads and outstretched hands.

There was a lot of anticipation building up to the Wavves set. Nathan Williams has gone through a metamorphosis in the past year, replacing his original drummer and bassist with Billy Hayes and Stephen Pope from the late Jay Reatard's band. This new incarnation of Wavves has been touring a lot lately, promoting their new album, "King of the Beach," often in the company of best friend/lover Best Coast.

Although Best Coast didn't play tonight, we could see her sitting on the sidelines providing moral support. But it's not like Nathan needed it-the crowd was pumped, and every song they played, from their new songs to the relatively "older" songs like "So Bored" and "Weed Demon," had a warm reception. And yeah, even through their laidback attitude and trademark fuzzy distortion, there's definite talent there. Williams (and company) might even end up breaking past their eternal summer.

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Mary Bell/OC Weekly
Crystal Antlers
It's unfortunate that by the last band, Crystal Antlers, most of the concertgoers were sweaty, exhausted, sobered up and/or late for curfew. This Long Beach group had less hype than the other bands but more substance, drawing in the shuffling mass with '60s- style organ trills and intoxicating bass lines. Their drummer (Kevin Stuart) sealed the deal with constant rambunctious cymbal-bashing. "Sounds like victory," I sleepily tapped into my phone, reminding myself to check them out when they get home.

Critic's Bias: I saw my first "real" concert at The Glass House (The Aquabats!). It's a weird building - it sort of feels more like a multi-purpose room than a legitimate venue - but being back here makes me feel like an over-eager teenager again.

The Crowd: A lot of over-eager teens. Since this is an all-ages show and the headliners are local hipster buzz bands, it's only to be expected. But they were really endearing. Even when they were passing out and being escorted outside by the police. 

Overheard in the Crowd: "I want a Bud Light. I'm on a diet."

Random notebook dump: "Can you hand me that cymbal, bro?" Billy Hayes asks Nathan Williams. Nathan stoops down and picks up the cymbal for his bro. "Thanks. That's what friends are for." 

By the Way: Remember to get your tickets for FYF Fest before August 23, when they go from $25 to $30. A list of venues and record stores that sell them can be found on their official website.

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