Wavves and The-Dream at Good Units

Jonah Wolf

"I think they're called Blaze," answered the woman next to me on the balcony when I asked her who was downstairs. I knew Wavves were on stage, of course, but wanted to find out who got into what would have been a secret show if lead Wavve Nathan Williams hadn't naughtily tweeted the location. In any case, my fellow journalist's confusion only pointed up the incongruity of pairing the San Diego surf-punks with R&B maestro ("Umbrella," "Single Ladies") Terius "The-Dream" Nash. But are they really so far apart? Both artists are coming out with similarly titled summer albums: Love King and King of the Beach (although The-Dream sounds more like Prince than Elvis). Both are known for meticulous bedroom pop: King of the Beach is Williams' first album with other musicians (Stephen Pope and Billy Hayes, formerly of Jay Reatard's band), while Love King indulges in almost chillwavey atmospherics. And both get much love from Pitchfork (not to mention the FADER, who were hosting their cover stars). By the time The-Dream emerged in an Alexander McQueen skull t-shirt, it was hard to tell which artist was supposed to be punk and which mainstream. Williams recently bragged to the FADER that King of the Beach is "my Nevermind," a legitimate goal for an era when the more abstruse Vampire Weekend can have a number one album. This pop angling has already got him into hot water with the Observer's Leon Neyfakh, who wasn't overly offended when Williams introduced consecutive songs as "Fuck the New York Observer." (This after Hayes guaranteed calumny by threatening to beat up "rude" bloggers.)

Wavves played a substantial set for a thin crowd, earning the Nirvana comparison with melodic power-trio rage. But The-Dream proved his royalty in a third of the time, leading an a capella rendition of "Purple Kisses," eyeing lithe hipsters during "Panties to the Side," pausing to instruct the deejay. The-Dream's songs have a formula: quarter-note synth stabs, two-note falsetto melodies, lyrics that hover between double- and single-entendre (a current favorite is "Florida University," whose refrain repeats the imaginary school's initials). After he encored with "Make-Up Bag," the crowd dispersed.

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