The live setting serves as a magnifying glass. It amplifies every element of a band, turning successes into perfection and flaws into catastrophes. So it was at Wavves’ gig at the Oxford Art Gallery, one that saw the messy, surf-punk elements of their sound transformed into an all-out sonic assault, one that the frenetic moshpit lapped up as though it were so much cheap beer.
It was madness from the get-go. Though the bands’ entrance might have been as un-rock and roll as they come – Nathan Williams et al emerged to the Ochre twangs of Slim Dusty’s Say G’Day – the audience treated the event as though it were a party at Caligula’s, and danced as though the world itself were tearing itself in two.
Rather than focussing on their latest (and rather fine) release, V, Williams and his long-haired partners in crime plucked songs from across their discography. The pop punk hit at the centre of their album of the same name, King Of The Beach, made an appearance because of course it did, but lesser cuts from Life Sux were slipped into the bill too.
Given the quality of the set, it speaks volume to the strength of V that the new material worked as well as the old. All The Same and Way Too Much were full of cheesy, glazed 80’s riffs, and in their excess, achieved levels of oversaturated brilliance.
The moshpit itself was fairly uninhabitable, with the crowd surging and pulsing like a fleshy wave. But though often such activity can seem like vaguely disguised aggression – a not so subtle release of testosterone – the assembled revellers had a cheerfully anarchic disposition. They were there to fuck things up, sure, but in the best possible way. As was Wavves, for that matter.