Photo by DYLAN LONG
Emo rockers Joyce Manor and esteemed surf-punk savants Wavves dropped by Union Transfer last night for some co-headlining shenanigans. Fans over the age of 24 were the clear outliers of the crowd; this one was for the kids. Before the main acts, we were graced with the presence of California’s Culture Abuse. For me, these guys stole the show. I’ve never witnessed a more crowd-pleasing frontman than David Kelling. He was goofy, engaging, and rambling – in short, he was himself. Turns out that Kelling has cerebral palsy. Nevertheless, the five-piece ripped through a set of quality rock tunes slathered in reverb and noise; Kelling sang with his hoodie hood draped over his face, allowing him to, as he described it, escape into his own world.
Wavves and Joyce Manor drew their respective tribes of fanboys and girls, which melted together in the sultry air into a big steamy pot of sweaty adolescence jumping around, moshing, and all around having a good-ass time. Wavves pulled out all the stops with their well-written repertoire. Bassist Stephen Pope [pictured, above], who kinda looks like the lion from Wizard of Oz if you squint, frantically cranked out basslines while simultaneously flailing his long, flowy golden Cali hair in every which way. Their diverse setlist was a crowd pleaser, with slow and depressing songs such as “Demon To Lean On” contrasting with upbeat partying tunes like “Way Too Much.”
The headlining slot for the evening went to Joyce Manor, a distinctly different group than Wavves. Much more All American Rejects-y, this four-piece embodies the sentiment of emo rock. The combination of angst-ridden lyrics, whiny vocals, emotional melodies, and catchy riffs brought fans together to vent their teeming anger and dismay in the pit. Their setlist was extensive due to most of their songs being in the 1-2 minute range in duration, and was full of emotional goodies like “This Song Is A Mess But So Am I,” “Constant Headaches” and their hit “Catalina Fight Song.” All told, Joyce Manor and Wavves and Culture Abuse gave all of those in attendance that most precious of all commodities: a genuinely good time. — DYLAN LONG