Wavves/Woods/Real Estate @ Bowery Ballroom, NYC 7/15/09

After the scene portrait painted by Woodsist and Captured Tracks on Independence weekend, a Bowery bill boasting Woods and Real Estate wouldn’t register as a must-see despite those bands standing at the top of their class. But there was one Woodsister noticeably absent from that lineup, the same one who noticeably canceled a European tour and then broke a wrist. So even though the show wasn’t a sellout (UPDATE: Sources say the show was deemed a “sell out” at some point before the show’s end), there was a faint buzz in the room as the latest and maybe most efficient build ‘em up/tear ‘em down internet phenomenon played out its latest chapter: The comeback of Wavves. Yes, we’ve known him less than a year. Yes, this is all sort of ridiculous.

And yes, you’re still reading.

There was no mention of the meltdown because let’s not blow things out of proportion, shall we, but the specter of it hung over the night. Nathan was making his rounds before the show and on the Delancey St. sidewalk conspicuously sporting a bottled water (onstage, too), and for someone who has a reputation for being snotty and sauced onstage, his sobriety was striking. Unnerving, even. I’ve never seen him like that. But the set was as taut and clean as a lo-fi punk show could be: No goofs or gaffes, lots of thanks and appreciative banter, and a relatively crisp set of the songs that catapulted Nathan into bloglines in the first place — “Beach Demon,” “Sun Opens My Eyes,” “So Bored,” most if not all of the goth-titled tunes, etc. And a new one, too. I’d offer lyrics but reverbed vocals aren’t good for noting lyrics.

The crowd that turned up was engaged, stage diving, rumbling the Bowery floorboards. They crowd surfed, hopped, hooted. As for the more recent piece of Wavves drama: a broken wrist could possibly derail other dudes, but when your guitar playing doesn’t involve much beyond scratching out punk power chords to a somewhat steady pulse, a wrist cast isn’t much of a factor.

Woods and Real Estate were phenomenal openers, lo-fi bands that aren’t afraid to sculpt smart melodies or explore their chord progressions with noise and jams; our thoughts on them haven’t changed since the July 4th fest. Both still excellent. (Worth noting, though: You can hear two new Woods songs — “Get Back” and “Sunlit” — at their MySpace.) The early opener was Popo, three Pakistani bros (literally) from Philly who have a 7″ out on Mad Decent, a couple of MP3s on RCRD LBL, and a MySpace page that after a quick listen will bring to mind the Black Lips or the Germs or various other strains of garage punk stuff. Scott and I missed their set, but they’ll be back. They trade in fuzz and reverb, after all.

Photographer Ryan Muir delivers this typically brilliant set of photographs. Please enjoy.