It was on the eve of the second weekend of ACL, that King Tuff and Wavves took the stage at Antones on Riverside to re-light the ceremonial fires of Rock & Roll in preparation for yet another weekend of stellar acts. Like every other official C3 ACL Aftershow, Thursday’s show was sold out, and Antones was packed to the gills with teens, hipsters, and yuppies alike.
With a three band lineup, the Jacuzzi Boys, a Miami-based rock outfit went on first at ten o’clock, with King Tuff to follow soon after at eleven o’clock. After a great set by Jacuzzi Boys, King Tuff came on stage looking like a Kenny Powers/ My Name Is Earl hybrid in his biker jacket cutoff. Granted that King Tuff, aka Kyle Thomas, hails from Vermont which may explain some of his peculiar behavior, his live set came as kind of a disappointment after all of the hype I had heard surrounding him.
Performing in front of a packed house with a tie dyed blanket as his backdrop, King Tuff failed to impress me in any way. I had heard plenty of praise about King Tuff’s unchained style of garage punk and the epic live shows that go with it, but all I heard was a watered down Jay Reatard impression with an arsenal of flimsy, garage pop songs. King Tuff’s nasal voice never became endearing, and his “I’m on drugs bro!” type of crowd banter, wore thin rather quickly.
As the set went on, it looked like the trio playing onstage were just waiting for someone to expose them as a joke, like they shouldn’t have been up there and were pulling one on everyone. It is possible that King Tuff has recorded some great rock music but seeing them as a live band, they lack the vitriol, vigor, and virility that comprises great punk band, and they seem to have just become a parody of themselves.
Wavves came up next with a set that was overwhelmingly more substantial and potent than King Tuffs’. Lead singer, Nathan Williams, brings an intensity to his songs that demands your attention but never seem to spill over into the realm of self-seriousness, always seemingly keeping a lightness and sense of humor as a steady undercurrent. Featuring Stephen Pope, ex-bassist for Jay Reatard, and a mix of other band influences, this band has a punk pedigree to crank out gems, and that’s exactly what they’re doing. Channeling a variety of influences from the Stooges to Blink 182 and even Nathan’s girlfriends band, Best Coast, the band has formed a distinct sound that has California’s skate punk scene stamped all over it.
Opening with one of their biggest hits “Post Acid”, Wavves had the crowd locked in from the time they set foot onstage. “Super Soaker” came up next and the adolescent group of guys in front of Nathan became a big swirl of humans shoving other humans.
At one point a guy climbed onstage to perform a stage dive, but was left standing, gawking at the crowd, because the song had just ended. Nathan asked “ What kind of idiot tries to stage dive after the song ends? I guess we have to keep playing, just so you can jump back in.” The guy onstage started jumping up and down, waving to his friends, like a drunken fool, and that’s when Nathan ran up behind him, played the first chord of a song, and ruthlessly decked the clueless stage-diver who flew back into the crowd.
Nathan led the band through a bevy of hits like “Hippies is Punks”, “King of the Beach”, and “I Wanna Meet Dave Grohl”, keeping the pace fast and intense, but adding a dollop of humor here and there.
“I want to give a shout out to Bagel Bites! Because that shit is delicious!” Nathan shouted towards the end of the set.
Wavves ended their hour-long set with, “Afraid Of Heights” and, instead of going through the encore ritual, Nathan said this:
“This is the part where we go offstage and, wait for you to clap and, come back out and do a couple more songs. We’re just going to skip all of that bullshit and play all of the songs right now, so you guys can go off and do whatever you have to do.”
A punk band has never sounded more sensible and refreshing.
Edited Version posted at the Horn: http://www.readthehorn.com/photos/84816/wavvesking_tuff_at_antones_reviewphotos