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Nathan Williams’s beer-soaked non-performance at Barcelona’s Primavera Sound Festival was more of a mess than Psychedelic Horseshit’s anti-Wavves rant, if you can believe it. Pitchfork recounts the final minutes of the crappy late night set and directionless, off-key musicianship:

Finally, fed up with Nathan’s petulant behavior, Ryan ran out from behind his drumkit and poured a full cup of beer over Nathan’s head. The act would be met with their most enthusiastic applause of the evening.

At 3:00 a.m. sharp, having dodged their share of bottles and even a shoe (neither Nathan nor Ryan was hit, although Nathan likely made impact with some unlucky attendee upon forcefully returning the latter object back to the crowd), the show mercifully came to a screeching halt: Ryan ran offstage, throwing his drumsticks at Nathan. Infuriated, Nathan screamed into the mic, “Come back here, motherfucker, we’re not done yet!” Immediately, stage crew appeared, breaking down Ryan’s kit. “Fuck!” Nathan shouted, “Stop doing that!” They didn’t, so Nathan decided the show must go on. Helplessly, he strummed his guitar again, clearly intent on playing another song. But as he stepped back to the mic, he realized it had been cut. As the crowd booed, the house lights came up, and a defeated Nathan Williams threw his hands up and left, along with the few remaining attendees.

It was the band’s second date on a European tour.

UPDATE: Nathan explains his behavior on the band’s blog:

I think in the back of my head I knew I wasn’t exactly mentally healthy enough to continue to tour the way I have been since February. Honest truth is this has all happened so fast and I feel like the weight of it has been building for months now with what seems like a never ending touring and press schedule which includes absolutely zero time to myself. I’m sorry to everyone who has put effort into this and to everyone who supported me. Mixing ecstasy valium and xanax before having to play in front of thousands of people was one of the more poor decisions I’ve made(duh) and I realize my drinking has been a problem now for a good period of time. Nothing else I can do but apologize to everyone that has been affected by my poor decision making. I made a mistake. Not the first mistake I’ve made and it for sure wont be the last. I’m human. Don’t know why I chose the biggest platform I could imagine to lose my shit, but that’s life. You live and you learn.

[Photo of Wavves @ SXSW by Linda Flores.]

UPDATE: Video…

UPDATE 2: According to Wavves’ MySpace, the European tour is now canceled. Dates at NYC’s Bowery Ballroom (7/15) and P4K Fest (7/18) are still on.

Comments (173)
  1. glazzy  |   Posted on May 31st, 2009 0

    Blame it on the a-a-a-a-alcohol.

  2. Just wondering why his drug and alcohol abuse are barely mentioned in the comments, in favor of going after Pitchfork?

    Is “too much fame too soon” code for being a drug addict, these days? Just wondering here. Substances are this kid’s real problem. As someone who enjoys his music, hope he gets some help.

  3. “pitchfork promotes something to appear trendy and informed…”

    here’s your first problem. there’s no reason to think they don’t simply promote something because they genuinely like it- especially if, as you claim, everything they then profess to “like” is therefore ‘trendy and informed.’

    Blaming any leg of the hype machine is lazy. like what moves your ass and let it be that. i mean, have any of you ever actually met someone that pretended to like something just to appear cool? i mean, don’t get me wrong- i’ve met fucking douchebags. they’re everywhere. if the argument eventually becomes- “well, only douchebags listen to wavves, then, ok? happy?” my response would be no, i liked it and i’m really not a douchebag at all.

  4. People would love wavves early 90′s

  5. sigh  |   Posted on Jun 1st, 2009 0

    pavement cracked each others heads open, shoved each others heads down toilets and threw lighted candles at each other, when they were at home.

    the bassist from blur threw a beer at thurston moore and punched him. thurston moore didn’t flinch.

    and they all got 10′s from p4k.

    wavves’ intra-band beer dumping on head is so tame.

  6. reezer_henley  |   Posted on Jun 1st, 2009 0

    talentless grizzly bear? hm. of course, music tastes are relative, but i can’t but be astounded at how a band that’s recently grabbed my attention so firmly – specifically with their latest release – can be dismissed by anyone with a “talentless” label. i realise not everyone has to enjoy that music, but technically, musically, vocally – and even visually – they’re way more than decent. way more.

  7. Burg   |   Posted on Jun 1st, 2009 0

    C’mon … he’s a big baby. So what. He’s young and obviously spoiled. This is just some tough love and he brought it on himself with a healthy dose of arrogance.

    And even if he does “blow his chance” … big deal. He will survive and perhaps realize what’s really important in life….or die from a drug overdose.

    We’ve found our new Fiona Apple. (minus the music chops)

  8. Sometimes… just sometimes when i read those comments i think most of the people here are eagerly awaiting meltdowns of hyped artists just so that they can say “i always knew it” afterwards and claim that these artists were ALWAYS overrated blabla.

    fact is: he made 2 very good albums. i’m gonna see him live in a few days. hope his liveshow is good too.

  9. KARL Young  |   Posted on Jun 1st, 2009 0

    I totally agree, I don’t know who Wavves is blowing at Pitchfork but the editor needs to know they can’t just be promoting shitty ass bands. Honestly, have you even listened to any of their recordings, it’s fucking horrible, even in the lo-fi aspect because it’s impossible to differentiate between the five chords he knows. I swear if we were to look into it, how much you wanna bet that the dude from Wavves is related to one of the writers of pitchfork. Damn this is like mainstream gone horribly wrong.

    • I guess i missed where this was a contest to know the most chords and have the most dynamic musicians possible. i think the line for segovia tickets forms that-a-way.

      I think it’s weird that a group of seasoned music fans can’t take the reality that a) the most talented and b) the best/ most dedicated acts don’t make it to whatever plateau is so abhorrent for wavves to have reached. “deserve” is a funny word. you’re inventing reasons why he doesn’t just because you don’t enjoy the music- which, of course, is fine. it’s when I’m told it’s “pitchfork’s fault” and “its not right” because there are “better musicians that deserve it.” huh? tough shit. that’s sort of how it works.

      i love when people say “oh man, have you even heard it?” YES! it’s obvious, braindead, catchy stoner/ surf punk songs. and? what’s the big problem here when it’s all boiled down?

      i’m sure there’s a band out there catching heat that i feel the same way towards. you just shake your head. “what are people seeing here?” but luckily i’m a big boy and i can sort of see that it isn’t really anyone’s “fault” and that’s sort of just how it goes.

  10. low  |   Posted on Jun 1st, 2009 0

    i think the nytimes article had a lot more to do with the hype than the pitchfork review.

    good album, probably not worth seeing live. like a lot of bands.

    ho hum

  11. Charlie Hoarse  |   Posted on Jun 1st, 2009 0

    a real rock n roll band that plays with abandon and raw appeal should’nt need a fucking soundcheck – nor complain about it. if this kid is sooo fucking punk rock, he would’ve dealt with the situation and muscled through the set. this so-called “meltdown” doesnt surprise me. this kid has been dealt the “ejaculation over his music: treatment from the press, and to be honest – his music and live show is nothing more than regurgitated bullshit that doesnt deserve and ounce of ink.

  12. Joe Perry  |   Posted on Jun 1st, 2009 0

    What a terrible rock star. He should be able to handle his drugs and play an entire set. 1980s Steven Tyler can snort coke circles around him.

  13. wow this is about as sad as the time my neopet died….

  14. Pitchfork weighing their “powers of destruction” with their “powers of fabrication” is a nice way of phrasing it. Yes its newsworthy and they had to report it, but its incredible how easy it is for them to beat the child they raised – i doubt they will cover wavves after this – unless its another breakdown.

    Here’s my take on it: http://flavorwire.com/23193/wavves-meltdown-primavera-youtub#respond

  15. like i feel sooooooo bad for him.

    only not.

  16. DUNF  |   Posted on Jun 1st, 2009 0

    That’s what happens hipster indie rock takes over. Bunch of college kids with guitars. A LOT OF JUNK!!!

  17. Matt  |   Posted on Jun 1st, 2009 0

    I didn’t know Jim Anchower had a band.

  18. i bet ed stringfellow, his booking agent, must be pretty pissed right now!

  19. This band was hyped up to a point that they were not ready to be at. None of us are in their situation, so it’s unfair to sit behind our computers and say they suck. They don’t suck, they just weren’t ready.

    • agreed man and let this be the end of it. nathan’s music is what it is and i, for one, dig it. when everything being piped into your ears is over-polished, chart-hungry-bullshit, i crave nothing more than 90s-tinged garage rock. wavves were just one of the few bands that get put on a pedestal every year by certain music press and it’s clearly a lot of pressure to take, especially with douches like us scrutinizing their every note,

  20. Jan  |   Posted on Jun 1st, 2009 0

    euro tour cancelled

  21. davin S  |   Posted on Jun 1st, 2009 0

    Nathan, you poor thing, its just too much to be playing a dream run of shows, and to be one of the most hotly watched new artists around. A year ago you wouldnt’ve imagined to be playing such a slot at such a festival…get a grip

  22. kyle charles  |   Posted on Jun 2nd, 2009 0

    dude’s not a jackass, he just enjoys the hysteria surrounding it and i mean, acts like himself. pothead who likes to get fucked up and jam to the ability his talent allows him. i’m sorry that the ‘elitist’ population can’t see that and he has to suffer this debauchery.

  23. Josh  |   Posted on Jun 2nd, 2009 0

    This guy is really into talking about how he has a drinking and drug problem. Which means he has neither. What a twat. And on top of that, they’re just another terrible drummer/guitarist band. None of these have EVER been good. Fucking STOP.

  24. Sam  |   Posted on Jun 2nd, 2009 0

    why does everyone hate Wavves?

  25. wendy  |   Posted on Jun 2nd, 2009 0

    They look really young. He fucked up. I’m not a fan, but it seems this pile on of schadenfraud is too over the top. Let the kid chill out for a while instead of rubbing his face in dogshit.

  26. gd  |   Posted on Jun 2nd, 2009 0

    FUCK YOU WAVVES

  27. c.  |   Posted on Jun 2nd, 2009 0

    while watching the (already mentioned) daytripping segment on p4k, i was struck by how viscerally i disliked nathan; he was monosyllabic, juvenile, blitzed beyond coherence, and incredibly ungracious for his remarkably good fortune. essentially, he was everything i wouldn’t want in a person i had to actually spend time around. so, my first reaction to this little catastrophe was definitely sadistic joy; on the other hand, i have to recognize that i am (as virtually everybody who reads this site probably is) a fan of numerous artists known for their gratuitous substance abuse, botched shows and out-of-control party behavior (elliott smith, anybody?), and that if i were actually a fan of the music, i would probably be busily excusing his behavior with some “art > all” ends-justify-the-means argument. so w/e.

  28. Jbo  |   Posted on Jun 3rd, 2009 0

    All of you guys need to get a life. I agree 100% with Tuna Goat. WHAT THE FUCK HAVE ALL YOU GUYS DONE. Wavves were playing on a massive fucking stage in front of thousands of people and they’ve even managed to get into a position where a bunch of gutless musical commentators (instead of contributors) have discussed them so much that they have forced them to the top of a massive music website. All you idiots bad mouthing them are even bigger idiots for unknowingly contributing to the problem, making this so called shit band bigger by doing nothing but posting continuous bad-mouthing comments. Get off your ass and get your selves on the same stage as these guys and I’ll give a shit what you have to say. Whether Pitchfork propelled them to fame or not, fact is these dudes actually got off their ass and recorded an album that a massive fucking website that you guys can’t stop visiting thought was awesome… stop destroying music and make it instead.

    • you may be surprised to know that most people discussing music on internet message boards in fact have little musical talent and are not in bands. now get off your high horse and start working on that album.

  29. loki  |   Posted on Jun 3rd, 2009 +1

    Indie rock has become little more than an outlet for upper class urban and suburban kids to display their disgusting nihilism in whatever post-modern form of dreck they choose. I believe payola plays a much larger part in the indie rock industry than most people even realize. You know, most normal people have decent intuitive facilities, so when they smell shit, they’re likely to say it. So all of your rationalizations for why “underground” music is still a meritocracy are meaningless. This entire culture is little more than a collection of demographic marketing slaves, trying desperately to defend their phony senses of self, and that goes for fans of shitty r&b, modern country, and indie rock alike. I don’t feel any worse for this kid than I do Scarlett Johansen’s character in “Lost In Translation”.

  30. Kasey B.  |   Posted on Jun 3rd, 2009 0

    1. Why blame Pitchfork? It’s all the people who made Pitchfork the definitive authority that have to take responsibility. Pitchfork may have hyped a band, but they didn’t force anyone to buy the, ah, cassette. If that site told me that dogs&#t smelled great, I wouldn’t bend down and start smelling it. Of course if they also told me other things smelled great that really did, I might give it one whiff before I decided with my own powers of judgement that it stinks. And thus…

    2. Wavves stink. Big yawn on this band. I can’t imagine listening to their music and thinking “Hey! This is going to be a great show performed by people who aren’t at ALL douchebags!” I would guess quite the opposite.

    3. Pressures of tourning. Ha! Come on, the kid is taking a drug cocktail and disrespecting a whole lot of paying audience members. Hopefully, the backlash will send them running back into their hipster hovels and out of the public consciousness. Bands like Wavves have a short tenure anyway. Maybe it just got shorter.

  31. This dude’s super cute. His music — not so much.

  32. isn’t this the same sort of backlash that vampire weekend got about a year ago? i mean, it’s pretty typical. anytime someone gets big praise it’s only a matter of time before the “indie” crowd turns on them…it’s all part of the tired cooler than thou posturing that defines any underground culture. once something is popular/accepted by an authoritative voice (in this case p4k) then people have to be cooler than that and discredit the work. wavves gets blasted for being “no talent, lo-fi, simplistic or whatever” VW got slaughtered for being “pretentious, white-bred, too clean, soulless” it doesn’t really matter. good musicianship or not there’s always gonna be a reason to hate whoever gets popular. why does everyone feel so threatened by other people’s popularity? does it really hurt you in any way? maybe if you’re a musician who’s not getting the attention you feel you deserve…but that’s just jealousy. someone else’s popularity isn’t stealing your audience. that’s a cheap excuse. i can’t even remember the big deal backlash before VW, but there was one…and there will be another one in about 9 months….then 9 months after that….it’s just music people. listen to what you like, make the music you want to make, see the shows you want to see….it’s all pretty harmless really.

  33. kaylo  |   Posted on Jun 3rd, 2009 0

    I agree that part of the backlash is just the standard indie posturing many of us are guilty of from time to time, but there’s something else- there are A MILLION truly brilliant, gifted people out there doing fantastic work who will NEVER get the recognition this young man already has because they live in the wrong place, didn’t grow up with money or connections or a sense of entitlement, maybe aren’t good-looking enough, aren’t trendy enough, aren’t social enough, or whatever other reason that kids like this get thrust into the spotlight before they’ve come up with even one really great song. THAT’s the emotional crux of the whole backlash. People know that the indie rock game is rigged and they don’t like it. Instead of authentic creative genius being offered to us, we get rich kids exercising their class prerogatives via the airwaves. The only thing anyone CAN do about it is POINT IT OUT AND COMPLAIN ABOUT IT. I could name 20 friends of mine right now who actually deserve these opportunities. That’s the real problem people have with yer Vampire Weekends and Wavveses and whatever.

    • i’m not so sure though that the indie rock game is rigged any more than anything else. that’s life. sure i also have plenty of talented friends who haven’t rocketed to fame overnight (myself included). some of them slog it out on the road 200+ days/year…some just keep making music, playing local shows and recording songs. one band’s “stardom” really isn’t affecting other musicians chances. people rocket to fame because they’re in the right place at the right time. it doesn’t mean it’s the best music…it just caught the attention of whatever mood was in the air.but i think it’s problematic to blame an artist for getting shot through the hype grinder…regardless of how you feel about someone’s music…they’re making the music they believe in and have just as much right to try and find success as anyone. i dont agree that the only thing we can do is point out “injustices” and complain…what we can do is not support artists that we dont believe in. freaking out because someone doesn’t agree with you is kind of pointless and silly. stuff like this doesn’t ever seem fair…but it can’t change. there will always be more musicians than there’s room in the marketplace to support…some brilliant work will always fall through the cracks….i think it’s safe to argue that today’s digital media network allows far more musicians to be heard than at any other time in history. your 20 friends have a much better chance of reaching an audience than they would’ve 10 years ago. i just think whining about it is a waste of time…and it come across as petty jealousy….make music, play it, tour. buy records you love, go to shows…that’s all you can REALLY do.

  34. kaylo  |   Posted on Jun 3rd, 2009 0

    maybe you’re right, I don’t know. It’s hard to swallow a lot of the time, though. And when people like this top it off with having shitty, entitled attitudes, it just makes it even harder to bare. I know a lot of people who have worked really hard and made amazing music who I know will never ever attain anything resembling the success their work merits. Am I not allowed to be upset about how unfair the whole thing is?

    As far as rigging- I can’t prove it, no. But I suspect payola happens. It’s just so conspicuous that you repeatedly see the same damn blogs and publications hyping the same people at more or less the same time. It just all seems so unlikely. There are plenty of great artists to choose from. Why does everyone need to shit their pants about Wavves or Viv Girls or whatever all in concert? I mean I know groupthink and zeitgeist play into it, but really, it’s absurd how every press entity seems to always be interested in the same thing at the same time. I know publicity campaigns have a lot to do with it. But really, it’s absurd, on a basic level.

    • it can be disheartening and it’s certainly tough to watch your friends work so hard and struggle to get heard while others seem to fall into success. but after a while it just seems like the way the world works, ya know? i dont know how old everyone is around here, but i’ve been involved in underground music scenes for over 15 years. it isn’t fair…there’s no justice…and of course you have the right to get upset…but is it really worth the energy? i’m not sure about the payola type stuff. i dont really think its that insidious. as wide spread as we all feel like this “indie rock” thing is…it’s still a relatively small community. and people look to trusted voices “so and so likes a lot of the same music as me…so i’ll listen when so and so says this is good”. until those voices become the status quo…then we must rebel and blame them for everything. p4k has turned me on to some great shit…they’ve also recommended some stuff that i found absolutely boring/annoying…no harm. no foul. and because the community is so small i think a lot of the “reporting” gets redundant. it’s not unlike mainstream news media….a story breaks everyone runs it into the ground…people get angry that so much attention is devoted to it….it dies down…the next story breaks…
      i dunno. i just really think it’s all harmless and we’ve been conditioned by the all too easy, all too anonymous blogosphere to over-react to things that really dont matter. in a year no one will care about wavves. and hopefully our friends will still be workin their asses off making good music!

  35. Lila  |   Posted on Jun 3rd, 2009 0

    POOR RYAN i would be sooooo cut he didnt do anything wrong and he had a chance to make it big and nathan fucked him over!

  36. Jp  |   Posted on Jun 3rd, 2009 0

    I love the internet! The same people who were so hyped about the band after hearing about them on Pitchfork & Stereogum, are the same people knocking the band now. ALL BANDS PUT ON A SHITTY SHOW EVERY ONCE AND AWHILE. Get over it.

  37. yeah wavves! i still like ‘em!
    i dont know the guy but i like his album and thats good enough for me!

  38. This isn’t music news. Stereogum is the Perez Hilton of the music community. Stop issuing moral judgments on personal behavior and start reviewing music, since that’s what you profess to do. As for the rest of you, I didn’t read your comments (because this commenting system is confusing and I can’t trace all of your replies to one another), but you should be ashamed. Listen to what makes you happy and stop freaking out when you realize the bands you listen to aren’t comprised of socially polite losers and total squares. Karen Carpenter was anorexic: she died. She’s still 50,000 times more relevant than Feist will ever be. I’m sorry if you wouldn’t bring her home to mom (but guess what, your mom probably lived for her). Her art was authentic and her influence is indelibly branded upon the world.

    When did our generation become the republican watchdogs of society? You all make me want to slit my wrists.

    I’m not saying it’s cool to be angsty and to have problems, nor is it cool to deprive fans of what they come for by dicking around on stage. All I’m saying is to respect the artists you go see and if something happens, let people be fucking human. Nothing pleases you people. You all complain no matter what the circumstance and it says more about you than it does the subjects of your ill-conceived, poorly written, insanely myopic and seriously transparent scorn.

    I’d love for you all to start bands and see how things turn out.
    CHRIST. I DARE U 2. LOL.

  39. zik  |   Posted on Jun 4th, 2009 0

    YOUR MUSIC IS BAD AND YOU SHOULD FEEL BAD

  40. Grand  |   Posted on Jun 4th, 2009 0

    Incredible Carpenters overstatement. I would honestly take Feist’s voice by itself over any fucking Carpenters song ever any day of the week.

  41. Wavves last song at Primavera Sound video. At the end you can see the drummer ‘destroying’ the drum and go away: http://instorm.blogspot.com/2009/06/wavves-meltdown-last-song.html

  42. sogood  |   Posted on Jun 4th, 2009 0

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4KkFy0jN5g&feature=channel_page

    has the part where he yells at ryan and walks off the stage

  43. wooly bully  |   Posted on Jun 5th, 2009 0

    train wrecks happen. im sorry for the folks who were up so late to see a crap show at the time. at least they get to say ‘i was there!’ now that it has become the indie media event of the month. other than that, these guys are living my dream ….maybe its time to pack it in. i act like this after drinking too much whiskey and nobody ever got this upset about it. except the one asian guy i said ‘i hate asians’ to. to that guy: i don’t really hate asians.

  44. He pissed on the couch and now it’s our job to rub his nose in it.

  45. This is pretty much unforgivable, and career suicide. I’m supposed to be seeing them in July, I’m sure this is exactly what people are going to be expecting now. I know I will. This is more exciting than the music, which sucks.

  46. “Mixing ecstasy valium and xanax before having to play in front of thousands of people was one of the more poor decisions I’ve made”

    How can anyone possibly defend this guy after a statement like this?

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