Wave Machines

Wave Machines

A hastily-arranged gig this one, but sometimes those type of gigs can unearth a gem. Not to be confused with the Wave Pictures, this Liverpool lot make indietronica with soul.

Date: February 5, 2012

Venue: Bodega Social

Wave machines are fun. Both parents and kids rush to the wave pool, hell bent on bobbing along merrily to the motion of the water created by industrial-sized air compressors.

The Wave Machines’ industry is, in all fairness, not quite as frolicsome, but bobbing along merrily to the motion of their indietronica is one parallel to take from the two disparate forms of entertainment.

Another neatly/nearly (delete as applicable) comparison would be to describe the Wave Machines’ music as choppy and refreshing. No mainstream careerism here thank you very much. They’re content to simply surf the current (sorry) that flows just under the crest of the mainstream’s turbulent maelstrom, cutting earnest songs from the same cloth as the Postal Service or Death Cab For Cutie.

Comparisons have been made with The Flaming Lips, although, to be frank, based on their gig here, those observations are wide of the mark. In fact, imagine if the Pet Shop Boys dropped the silly stage gimmicks and camp disco glam and glitz, picked up guitars, stripped back their glossy synthy pop and made sophisticated and calculated music and you’re closer to their sound on a few of the tracks we get to hear tonight. Elsewhere, however, especially on the haunting ‘Keep the Lights On’ and the cinematic scope of ”Counting Birds’, they’re like distant cousins of the afore-mentioned Postal Service and Death Cab.

But it doesn’t all go quite so swimmingly (sorry, again). There are a few niggles along the way. Lead vocalist Tim Bruzon – who could pass as Maximo Park’s Paul Smith should he ever done a snappy bowler hat – struggles with the order of the lyrics to one of their newer songs, while there’s a concern about an out-of-tune clarinet on another – not something that concerns most bands, but they’re perfectionists if nothing else.

But these are minor hiccups, and Bruzon’s deference and banter with the audience helps to smooth over these hairline cracks.

With time escaping them as Bodega’s strict curfew approaches, they offer the crowd a choice of two past favourites: ‘I Go I Go I Go’ or ‘Punk Spirit’. The consensus – or those with louder voices – plump for the latter, and it’s a good choice – a rollicking blast of a tune which doesn’t quite hold the spirit of punk within its realm but which showcases their frank and wholesome talent firmly.

It should’ve ended the set, but eager to continue, and with the audience now right behind them, they politely ask the sound man if there’s time for just one more, despite it being seven whole minutes post-curfew. Reluctantly, the man on the sound desk nods, and the show goes on with the song that was second choice a few minutes ago.

And with that, they end, having washed the crowd with a sense of joy and satisfaction. A bit like a wave machine, really.

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