October 4, 2013
That Was The Show That Was: King Tuff, Wavves and Jacuzzi Boys | The Sinclair | 1 Oct.
At first blush, Brattleboro-bred power-pop trio King Tuff don't sound all that punk. The band colored its recently reissued debut Was Dead with agitated jangle, bright hooks and fundamental drumming, and lead Tuff Kyle Thomas -- who has also served time in Witch with J. Mascis and was also a member of freak-folk concern Feathers -- would seem more likely to cite Alex Chilton than, say, Ian MacKaye as an influence. But here was King Tuff on Tuesday, on a bill sandwiched between the primitive scuzz-punk of Jacuzzi Boys and lo-fi heros-cum-Weezer acolytes Wavves. And there were the kids, slam dancing away as Thomas' impressive mane bopped beneath his trademark "ME MAKE ROCK ROLL" trucker hat. At times the man looked positively dismayed at the carnage before him, but that didn't preclude him from tossing out Tootsie Rolls to devotees in honor of the "first day of Halloween."
After simmering in the under-underground for years, King Tuff landed on Sub Pop, and that leap to hyperspace seemed to be reflected in the crowd's adulation; there were probably more chants for the band following Jacuzzi Boys' opening set than for Wavves. And King Tuff did not disappoint. They were note-perfect on the jams from the self-titled Sub Pop debut, and proffered a towering, mosh-ready iteration of the anthem "Bad Thing." The songs from Was Dead stood out, spurred by extra oomph from behind the drum kit, which caused the songs' hooks to burst from beneath heavy distortion to the front of the mix. "Dancing On You," in particular, had the crowd pogo-ing with glee -- not aggression -- and offered a rare break in an otherwise extremely physical show.
Wavves have been touring their excellent fourth LP Afraid Of Heights for well over a year now, and it shows. Their set was packed tightly with slam-baiting jam upon slam-baiting jam. The gentlemen in Wavves don't present as imposing figures -- they convey instead a goofy stoner charm with their Blue Album pop smarts -- and neither do their fans. So, while sure the circle pit that erupted produced plenty of flying limbs, it's doubtful anyone feared bodily injury while inevitably mixing it up during "No Hope Kids." Jacuzzi Boys opened the night with a tenacious set of Cali-punk-indebted distortion pedal abuse. The King Tuff / Wavves / Jacuzzi Boys tour rolls on through Oct. 15 in Los Angeles, after which King Tuff heads northward for a short strand of dates in San Franciso, Portland, Seattle and Vancouver. Check out all the tour dates at Sub Pop's King Tuff page right here. -- Dillon Riley
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