Getty California pop-punk duo Wavves has done some serious growing up in…
- Posted on Sep 20th 2010 10:00AM by Kenneth Partridge
Charley Gallay, Getty Images
Opening Sunday for '90s indie institution Pavement at the Williamsburg Waterfront in Brooklyn, N.Y., the quartet led by Jenny Lewis and Johnathan Rice played with a mellowness that bordered on nonchalance, embodying the Clinton-era slacker vibe so often associated -- unfairly, as the night would prove -- with the show's headliner.
Pavement's set, though not exactly raucous, was louder, harder and more energetic than Jenny and Johnny's medium-intensity warm-up. Trading off on guitar and bass, as well as lead vocals, Lewis and Rice ambled through much of their recently released debut, 'I'm Having Fun Now,' dropping only the slightest hints that the album's title applied to the performance they were giving.
Of course, the boyfriend-girlfriend duo had a couple of good reasons for keeping its enthusiasm in check. First off, this was Pavement's night -- the start of Pavement Week in New York City, where the reunited group will play four consecutive nights in Central Park. Second, the Rilo Kiley frontwoman and her Scottish-American beau are the Brangelina of indie rock. Had they spent 45 minutes acknowledging each other with more than subtle grins, they might have undermined the sarcasm and cleverness so central to their songs.
On such tunes as 'Committed' and 'Big Wave,' Lewis and Rice simultaneously smirked at and spoke insightfully about the state of the world. Toward the end of 'Just Like Zeus,' Rice, guitarist Todd Wisenbaker and drummer Jason Boesel dropped out, leaving Lewis to sing, "Outside of Silverlake, I am the biggest fake," an arch couplet about the trendy Los Angeles neighborhood that has been dubbed the "Williamsburg of the West."
Fake or just facetious, Lewis is an indie dream girl, and as such, she suffers the curse of all good-looking female rockers. Rice must cringe every time he hears, "You look beautiful tonight, Jenny!" as some knucklehead bellowed late in Sunday's set. Poor Rice had to follow that outburst with 'Animal,' a ponderous making-sense-of-God jam that, while plenty smart and tuneful, isn't quite a middle finger to those fanboys who wonder how he landed such a guitar-playing goddess.
Closer 'The Next Messiah,' a darkly funny nine-minute tune Rice co-wrote for Lewis' sophomore album, 'Acid Tongue,' did a better job of making his case.
"This is an oldie from 2008," Lewis said, as if poking fun at herself for for representing neither the '60s nor '90s, but rather the dreary aughts. "Those were the days."