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Cinco de Secret Shows: Wavves at Origami Vinyl, Jane's Addiction at Bardot

May 6, 2010 |  5:58 pm

Wavves “This song is called ‘Facebook’,” Wavves frontman Nathan Williams said before tossing off another volley of scrim-soaked surf punk at Origami Vinyl last night. Like most things concerning Wavves, it was tough to tell if Williams was just having a lark.

But on Cinco de Mayo, Wavves’ endearingly bratty turn was one of two different, goofy and ostensibly secret sets across town, the other being a low-capacity turn at Bardot from Jane’s Addiction, who have become L.A.’s house band for these sorts of things.

At 7 p.m., word had thoroughly spread that Wavves, SoCal’s best test case for making compelling rock music by barely deigning to try in the slightest, was up to something. Having recently commandeered the late Jay Reatard’s rhythm section, Williams is making a noble go at taking his band more seriously than he has in recent months. But his Origami set had a welcome faint hint of that old sense that the whole thing might go off the rails. Microphones shorted, songs half-started, many jokes were made at the expense of drummer Billy Hayes’ bleached emo haircut.

To say Wavves’ debut album “Wavvves” sounds like it was recorded in a trash can wouldn’t do justice to the structural integrity of trash cans, but the strong new tunes he unveiled at Origami peeled off the scuzz in favor of a bit more rhythmic swagger and directness. “King of the Beach,” the title track from his forthcoming record, showed an affection for classic California skate-punk, as run through Williams' typical filter of hooky smarm.  Working with producer Dennis Herring seems to have affected his goals even for his live sets – the new tunes have a clarity that “Wavvves” so self-consciously shunned. Whatever you make of Williams giddily abrasive stage presence, it’s getting harder and harder to say his success was an accident.
A few hours later, the crushing maw of people outside of Bardot seemed a bit untoward, given that the very un-secret-guests Jane’s Addiction have done this kind of thing before. The scene felt a bit like the gnarlier elements of a mini-Coachella, complete with color-coded wristband hierarchy.

Perry Things got a bit easier inside, even if the downstairs performance space was instantly and impenetrably swarmed. Jane’s set was remarkably punctual. Perry Farrell is light years removed from the feline menace of his early career, in favor of a limber, libertine-peacenik vibe complimented by an ever-handy bottle of red wine onstage. Dave Navarro further proved his only clothing is a closet full of pants and glistening vests.

The debut of their severe new bassist Duff McKagan (of GnR note) was the ostensible reason for the show, and though Bardot’s super-minimal sound setup didn’t allow for the dazed spaciousness that helps make Jane’s best songs work, they made a pretty convincing racket. The super brief set – eight songs, mostly staples like “Mountain Song” and a grimy new tune, “Another Soulmate” – was easygoing and joyful, probably unrepresentative for anyone prognosticating about a new album, but a slow pitch across the plate to a welcoming home team. Bardot needs to keep that confetti cannon handy for future shows, or for the most rapturous last call ringer ever.

--August Brown

Wavves photo by Glenn Koenig / L.A. Times; Perry Farrell at Australia's Soundwave Festival by Mark Metcalfe / Getty Images
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