Wavves at 7th Street Entry, 3/29/13

Photo by Anna Gulbrandsen

With FIDLAR and Cheatahs
7th Street Entry, Minneapolis
Friday, March 29, 2013

Wavves, fronted by singer/guitarist Nathan Williams and bassist Stephen Pope, rolled into Minneapolis on Friday as part of a national, small-venue tour to promote their new album Afraid of Heights. Touring with Mom+Pop label mates FIDLAR, the evening promised to be a raucous exercise in Southern California punk/surf rock catharsis, complete with repeated references to getting drunk, stoned and generally fucked up.

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Slideshow: Wavves, FIDLAR, and Cheatahs at 7th St. Entry

Wavves' 45-minute set blasted out of the gate with a feverish "Idiot" from the excellent 2010 album King of the Beach. The energy was electric and the sold-out crowd reveled in the blistering opener. Technical difficulties made an untimely appearance, forcing the eager audience to wait anxiously for a second helping. Resigned to push on without his clear channel, Williams and his Wavves band mates sped forward with "Bug," from their 2011 EP Life Sux, before revisiting King of the Beach with the ripping track "Take on the World."

Wavves finally got around to Afraid of Heights with a faithful, if not somewhat forced, rendition of "Demon to Lean On." The show could have easily been a showcase for the new record, but Wavves cobbled together a well-balanced set that included earlier tracks from King of the Beach, Life Sux and Wavvves. They even threw in a rough-hewn cover of Sonic Youth's "100%" (a coincidental coda to Thurston Moore's rock explosion a few nights earlier at the Triple Rock via Chelsea Light Moving) and a mocking, meandering digression late in the set in the form of a garbled version of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Under the Bridge."

Photos by Anna Gulbrandsen

The 15-song set only featured five tracks from Afraid of Heights. The crowd welcomed "Demon to Lean On" with predictably open arms. "Afraid of Heights" and "Sail to the Sun" received equally warm receptions, but the older material -- most notably the six tracks from King of the Beach - - won the night. Williams was in a characteristically snarky mood, bantering with the crowd, taking playful digs at supporting act FIDLAR and mocking a fan who asked him to keep it real. In light of his tempestuous reputation (a typical misinterpretation of perfectionist tendencies), Williams handled the equipment failure well. The same couldn't be said for a late-set miscommunication between drummer Jacob Cooper as a noticeably annoyed Williams took a chop at one of Cooper's cymbals with his guitar.

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