These past five years have been fruitful for punk rock fans who appreciate a lo-fi garage and surf sound. Groups like King Tuff, The Orwells, FIDLAR, and a wave of others have found large audiences eager to get rowdy and dance to their millenial interpretation of punk. Two bands that have found themselves at the forefront of the American garage punk sound are the San Diego-based, Wavves, and the Chicago quintet, Twin Peaks. Both groups were in Austin Friday night for a raucous bacchanal of booze, hipsters, and rock and roll.
Opening band SWMRS were a perfect precursor to the headliners as they melded surf music and punk to perfection. The quartet was a pleasant surprise to anyone who hadn’t heard them before and it was evident as to why they were chosen as the opening act, as they seamlessly reflected the best parts of both headliners.
Twin Peaks, who played a monster set at Fun Fun Fun Fest last year, returned to Austin in grand fashion and received a warm welcome from Austinites who were dead set on showing their appreciation through riotous dancing. Songs like “I Found A New Way”, “Making Breakfast”, and “Flavor” are perfect examples of concise power pop ballads infused into a punk exoskeleton. While noticeably brief, Twin Peak’s set ignited a palpable celebratory urgency of which the audience would carry into Wavves’ set.
Wavves has been around longer than you think. Lead singer, Nathan Williams, who began piecing the band together back in 2008, was almost unrecognizable as he has grown out of his cherubic youth and into a bearded punker. The band lurched into their opening song “Sail To The Sun”, and immediately the crowd responded with an anarchic mosh pit. Songs like “ So Bored” and “To The Dregs” brought back 2009 nostalgia for many long-time listeners. The band also played “All The Same”, “Way Too Much” and “My Head Hurts”, which are songs off of the upcoming album, V. While the crowd’s energy never waned, the band itself oscillated between an unfocused aloofness and then a die-hard intensity, depending on the song. Nathan seemed out of it throughout his set, at one point exclaiming genuinely “What day is it today? Oh is it Friday!” Yet, despite some missed moments, Wavves played a monster setlist that included over twenty songs.
These are the kinds of shows that are fleeting. Twin Peaks will soon have their own headlining tour, and SWMRS have the talent to ascend to that level as well. What we have today are three bands, at different stages in their careers, that all play similarly incredible music. Once I saw throngs of sweaty, tired hipster punks filing out of the Mohawk with goofy grins on their faces, I was assured that this style of garage punk is here to stay.