Day Wave’s ’80s lo-fi vibes shower Troubadour crowd

day wave troubadour

Power pop is alive and well. Wednesday night at the Troubadour, Oakland lo-fi act Day Wave proved to be the latest to carry the torch for the genre.

Day Wave is the work of Jackson Phillips, who writes and performs all the music that is on a Day Wave record, but tours as a five-piece when performing live. Of current acts out there, I’d compare Day Wave most closely to Canadian lo-fi rockers Alvvays. But really, the similarities more lie with older bands like The Cure and Weezer, for me at least.

I arrived at the venue later than I had anticipated. Game 7 of the World Series started at 5 PM and turned out to be one of the great nail-biters of our time. I left my house during the short rain delay. When I went to pick up my ticket, the girl working the box office had the game streaming on her phone. I got inside the Troubadour in time to see the final few outs in the side bar with about 75 other people packed in. People celebrated the Cubs win like it was their own team.

It’s funny how I became aware of Day Wave. I’m from the same area that Philips makes his music in northern California’s Bay Area. I stumbled across them early at Shaky Knees Fest in Atlanta back in May and was blown away. I was even more surprised at how good it was considering Phillips remarked it was their first-ever festival performance. I’ve seen him a handful other times but was really looking forward to seeing a headline show from them for once and wasn’t disappointed.

Phillips kicked off the show with a new song “Wasting Time” that’s got a little more bite to it than some other Day Wave songs. The track officially released on Thursday, you can check it out for yourself now.

Just hearing the guitar rhythm of “You,” it felt like a slowed-tempo version of my favorite song by The Cure, “In Between Days.” Seeing the crowd at the Troubadour and hearing their music, it felt like I time-traveled back to the ‘80s. I wasn’t complaining.

day wave troubadour

A certain pocket of the crowd towards the middle danced their hearts out to Day Wave’s gloomy melodic pop tunes. Much of the songwriting comes from a perspective of loneliness, fitting considering Phillips made all the music on his records by himself. Phillips’ vocals shine, and the crowd appreciated the harmonizing that would occur at different points.

Phillips seems to still be getting over stage jitters. To be fair, he’s only started playing live shows as Day Wave since last year. It isn’t as though the performance itself is anything less than stellar, he just seems to struggle to find words between songs while he’s tuning up his guitar.

It was very fitting for the band to play a cover of New Order’s “Ceremony,” as their brand of pop would’ve fit perfectly in the era that New Order was on top. What came next was my favorite song from his Headcase/Hard to Read EP, “Drag.”

The chorus to “Drag” will catch your ear immediately. By the second time around, a good percentage sang along. The song perfectly encapsulates that feeling when one feels inferior in a relationship, like they’re holding back their partner.

Day Wave closed their set with their loudest song of the bunch. The song “We Try But We Don’t Fit In” features a foot-stomping chorus and it was a perfect way to end the night.

I’d be surprised if Day Wave isn’t a popular bottom-line festival act in 2017. The music seems like a good fit for an early-day tent set, similar to what Alvvays played at this year’s Coachella. Cross your fingers that this becomes reality.

Photos: Todd Westphal

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Day Wave Setlist Troubadour, West Hollywood, CA, USA 2016