WAVVES, Dune Rats, Gorilla Manchester, 06/06/2018

Blistering rockers WAVVES take to the Gorilla with a hand from Brisbane‘s Dune Rats. Liam Moody has the words.

Two bands separated by over 7000 miles and the Pacific Ocean travel halfway across the world to find themselves united in music inside a central Manchester sweatbox. San Diego four-piece Wavves, touring in support of their new album You’re Welcome are joined by Brisbanite power-trio Dune Rats for a night of high-energy intercontinental pop-punk.

Dune Rats are also featuring material from their new album, The Kids Will Know It’s Bullshit, ripping into their new songs and leaving them bleeding in their wake. Scuzzy beach party tunes filled with rebellious swagger and delivered with slacker drawl, Dune Rats feel close to the early-90s California skate-punk scene, the likes of Wax and Smash-era Offspring– distorted melodic basslines underneath thick power chords and heavy blasts of drumming combine like Voltron into a shambolic (in the very best possible sense) mess of noise.

Hyper-animated, all huge grins and laughs from the band- the energy spills from the stage, matched and seemingly overtaken by the crowd (one sentence to describe the audience- “I remember when I had my first beer”- take that as you will, but ultimately all good-natured and affectionate). Dune Rats’ modus operandi is simple, songs about partying, getting high, hanging out with friends- simple but so, so effective.

“We’re like Tame Impala now!” was the reaction to singer/guitarist Danny Beausa switching on an effects pedal. Part of Dune Rats’ appeal lies in the obvious friendship between the bandmates, banter in no doubt aided by the number of tinnies consumed during the set (it was unbearably hot inside Gorilla, so this is a fair way to counter this issue). The music is straightforward, the songs are crude, but Dune Rats are nothing if not fun- and that, surely, is the entire point of pop-punk? Having fun, right?

“I came dressed in your local attire”, Nathan Williams beams as he points to his full-body adidas three-stripe ensemble, “I got told that I look like a…a scally? Is that a bad thing?” Riding on the momentum created by Dune Rats, Wavves get going with pumped-up surf rock that betrays their Californian roots, the feedback-laden assault of “King Of The Beach” feels like Dick Dale turned up as far as possible. Playing a wide range from their back catalogue, Wavves are closer to the melodic end of the pop-punk spectrum with the close-harmony “Take On The World“, while the white-knuckle “Daisy” brings the SoCal chicano sound forward in raucous style. Wavves trash through their set purely on raw power, and nowhere is this more apparent on “My Head Hurts“, a song about being hungover- “Listen to it tomorrow, so it really sticks”- ironic as Nathan himself powered his way through a bottle of Jameson’s during the show.

Some technical problems hampered the band, some purely from equipment malfunctions, others when Williams attempted to twirl his guitar around himself, sending it careering into guitarist Alex Gates’ pedalboard. Naturally, this garned applause that was probably larger than if he been successful in his stunt, and this single action was Wavves’ live show dumbed down to a point, ramshackle chaos. The us-against-the-world attitude (“A Million Enemies“) is perfect singalong material, the crowd now a mass of arms and hands, soaked in sweat but jubilant. Finding themselves staring down the venue curfew, the band pick up speed and sprint through the latter part of their set, “Post Acid” and “Green Eyes” becoming supercharged, especially after the stripped-back intro in the latter, Nathan carrying the first verse alone before the rest of Wavves crash in and tear the song to shreds while the frontman leaps into the crowd headfirst. A thrill- pure, unadulterated fun.

Words and photography by Liam Moody.

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