It's one of the odder pairings of the summer so far: surf-punk outfit Wavves opening for R&B smoothy The-Dream Tuesday night in the basement of New York's Hudson Hotel, where Fader held a party featuring the two acts, who appear on the cover of the magazine's Summer Music Issue. Nathan Williams, the ragamuffin singer-songmaker for the San Diego band, was definitely excited -- and looking for a little face time with the pop crooner.
"If you see The-Dream tell him to come talk to me," Williams said during a break in his band's raucous set, heavy on tunes from their excellent third full-length, King of the Beach (out August 3). He then dropped a few verses of The-Dream's song "Shawty Is Da Shit." "Seriously, we love The-Dream," he added.
What might Williams and The-Dream discuss backstage? Well, if the 28-year-old Atlanta singer's too-short, three-song headlining set was any indication, they'd talk about the ladies. The-Dream has a simple musical message that he delivers smooth and Cristal clear: let's make love, girl.
On his just-released album Love King (the third part of a "Love" trilogy, after 2007's Love/Hate and 2009's Love vs. Money), The-Dream uses sharp pop songwriting chops (he wrote Rihanna's "Umbrella" and Beyonce's "Single Ladies") to craft urban R&B suites about sex and romance, and he's never short on ego.
When he hit the stage at 10:30 P.M., The-Dream dropped into "Ditch That...," on which he coaxes a girl at the club to leave her boyfriend over a steady groove of dance beats, Euro-pop synths, and repetitive vocal hooks that are shinier than lip gloss. "I can make your days and nights look like fantasies / He ain't got nothing on me / My garage looks like the Dupont registry / I'm so superb / Shorty what's the word / If you looking for love / I'll give you what you deserve."
"Now all the girls scream!!!" he instructed, his hands outreached to touch the fingers of the female superfans in the front row. Perhaps this is how The-Dream wooed his wife, pop singer Christina Milian.
On another newbie, "Make Up Bag," he sang a sly double-entendre to demonstrate how to appease a girl who's livid at her boyfriend for coming home stinking like tequila and perfume. "If you ever make your girlfriend mad / Don't let your good girl go bad / Drop five stacks on the make-up bag," he crooned on repeat, referring not to a cosmetics container, but a $5,000 designer handbag purchased as an apology. He even offered a few brand suggestions: "Louis, Prada, Fendi, Valentino."
The-Dream has said Love King will be his last solo album. Let's hope he's joking: his music is catchy and ideal for summer -- you'd have to try pretty darn hard to dislike it. And as far as staying power, The-Dream said it best during his performance of his new album's title track and lead single: "I'm the L to the O, V to the E, the K to the I, N to the G -- and I'm the R&B killah!"