With unseasonably warm temperatures on Thursday night, Wavves vs. Best Coast’s ‘Summer Is Forever II’ tour kicked-off auspiciously with a large, but not to capacity, turnout of 20-somethings at Stubb’s outdoor stage in Austin on Thursday, February 11th. Branded as an “Intercontinental title match” between Ultimate Warrior-esque Nathan Williams and cat-wielding Bethany Consentino, the billing is a sequel to the long-time couple’s 2011 ‘Summer Is Forever’ tour, based on a split single by the same name. For this match each band is settling-in as major label veterans with Best Coast’s California Nights (QRO review) from May and Wavves album V from October. With multiple albums under their belts, both bands enjoy playing Austin and do so often, so it was no surprise that they decided to start their tour in the capital city. Williams even quipped that, “Our last tour started in Seattle, it’s definitely not like here, but Seattle’s cool too.”
Welcomed by collective hoots from the crowd, Best Coast came on to stage to Bobb Bruno’s thrashing guitar. Opening with “Crazy For You”, Consentino’s voice was clear and her “ooh oohs” were on point throughout the night. With the nearly two months rest since their last show, she displayed a lot of energy and confidence with her guitar licks and frequent hair tousling — inciting crowdsurfing during the beginning of their performance that eventually waned as the show progressed. Goth-like in a black see-through dress and choker, Bethany progressed through new material early in the set with the ‘90s sounding “Heaven Sent”, in particular, getting the crowd moving. Stopping only to say thank you and take sips from a solo cup, the band covered nearly 20 songs in their supporting role in the line-up. As the band settled in with their shoegaze-ier material, the subdued crowd responded with the gentle head nods so familiar at Austin shows, especially during the tambourine songs such as “Summer Mood”. Before playing the crowd favorite, “Boyfriend”, Consentino thanked the audience again, saying that she was happy with the weather and the crowd’s energy and excitement. Consentino said that the show exceeded her tour expectations, before the band departed the stage in smoke and feedback.
Complementing Best Coast’s more chilled-out California vibes with their catchy lo-fi Cali surf punk, was headliner Wavves. Kicking off the set, Nathan Williams took the stage in a black Slayer t-shirt with hair dangling in front of his eyes and started right in to “Lunge Forward” and “Paranoid” from 2013’s Afraid of Heights. Beer cans started flying and joints started burning early as the crowd pogoed up and down. Even though a group of diehard fans measuring about 20 feet square in front of the stage never ceased moving, the typical Wavves mosh-pit never quite seemed to form. Given the newness of V, several songs made their first live appearance; Williams pointed out that “Relead” and “Heart Attack”, in particular, were making their debut. Powering up and down their catalogue, their placement as a headliner tonight was unquestioned, but I wonder if they will alternate or keep the same one-two punch as the tour unfolds? I think they have it just right. Instead of leaving the stage for an encore, Wavves went straight into their final songs. Closing out the 23 song-set was “Dreams of Grandeur”, the A-side off of a 7” split single with Best Coast that was released in January, along with crowd favorites “Green Eyes” and “Demon to Lean On” – that had most of the audience singing along. With “King of the Beach”, the show came to a climax with loud applause and hooting, and the typical feedback ending. During this final round we could say that Wavves’ set packed a TKO rather than KO – with the exception of the hard core fans in the front, it seemed that the audience was just getting warmed up for the season of outdoor live shows that kicks off in earnest about a month from now during SXSW 2016.