Wavves and Best Coast kicked off their co-headlining tour on Friday night with an intimately raucous gig at San Diego’s Soma, a dingy old theater converted into a 500-capacity, all-ages punk club. The bands’ coupled-up leaders, Nathan Williams and Bethany Cosentino, dubbed their joint winter outing, presented by SPIN and MTV, as the “Summer is Forever” tour, which alone should have been proof enough that they are, indeed, the First Couple of Surf-Soaked, SoCal Indie Rock.
But if that didn’t do the trick, the double dose of playful, bratty, pop-fueled, sun-damaged tunes certainly did.
No Joy had the stage first, however. The lady-led Montreal band was hotly tipped by Cosentino on Twitter last year, and have since become her labelmates on Mexican Summer. Backed by a two-man rhythm section, Jasmine White-Gluz and Laura Lloyd fired up their guitars and delivered wave upon frothing wave of distortion — bright and melodic, but thick as molasses.
Playing largely from their November full-length, Ghost Blonde, No Joy presented a perfect squall of grunge, shoegaze and black metal, even closing their set with a My Bloody Valentine-style wall of searing feedback. Along the way, chant-like vocals and breathy, flanged coos made for a psychedelic experience, and a proper palate-cleanser before the main attraction.
Cosentino and her band walked out to big cheers, and took off with the grungy swooner “This Is Real” before ripping into a handful of songs from their debut, Crazy for You. The singer subbed in the name of her fan-favorite pet feline Snacks during “Goodbye” — on the line “I wish my cat could talk” –and for the giddy crowd, it was a highlight equal to hearing the breezy, brand new song “Sunny Adventure.” About halfway through, Cosentino switched it up.
“Does anyone like country music?” she asked.
The response was mixed, but the results weren’t. They ate up her twangy cover of Loretta Lynn’s “Fist City,” a fightin’ song with a message some of the audience would probably do well to heed: “Lay off of my man.” A few songs later, admirers passed her a stuffed Garfield doll before she reciprocated with a big finish, rolling two early EP faves, “Something in the Way” and “Sun Was High (So Was I),” into a jammy take on her album-ender, “Each and Every Day.”
Best Coast thrilled, but Wavves owned the night. Clearly amped by the prospect of dominating his hometown, Williams, whose father was in the crowd, led his three-man wrecking crew through a hugely satisfying, rip-roaring, 17-song set.
Even technical difficulties couldn’t slow him down. When former Jay Reatard bassist Stephen Pope couldn’t get his effects rig to work, Williams went solo, delivering a pared down version of his 2009 track “Weed Demon” that was actually eerily beautiful. Once things were up and running again, he delivered No Hope Kids,” another fuzzy cut from his second album, Wavvves, which held its own sandwiched between unreleased pummelers “In the Sand” and “Bug.”
“I’m not going to do an encore because I think it’s stupid, but we’re gonna play every song we can play,” he announced. That included most of Wavves’ 2010 breakthrough King of the Beach, and a hulking cover of Black Flag’s “Nervous Breakdown,” accompanied by a hail of beach balls. Electronic skronk bridged one song to the next, but the biggest trick of the eve came from the fans, who rushed the stage for “So Bored” and stayed through the finale, “Post Acid.”
Eventually the band was completely enveloped — at one point, Williams was forced to dive into the pit still shredding on his guitar — precluding the need for proper goodbyes. The audience and Wavves simply became one writhing, fist-pumping mass. Summer was back, and it came to stay.
WAVVES SET LIST:
Nervous Breakdown (Black Flag cover)
To the Dregs
King of the Beach
Friends Were Gone
Weed Demon (solo)
Take on the World
In the Sand
No Hope Kids
BEST COAST SET LIST:
This is Real
Wish He Was You
Crazy For You
Fist City (Loretta Lynn cover)
Wish He Was You
I Want To
When I’m With You
When You Wake Up
Something in the Way
Sun Was High (So Was I)
Each and Every Day
Wavves and Best Coast will continue to tour the country until February 26, when the trek wraps up in San Francisco. Head here to check out all dates and purchase tickets. SPIN is also giving away pairs of tickets for each show in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and Boston. Check out SPIN on Twitter to enter the next giveaway.