A single microphone was hanging from the rafters. This was the scene about a minute after the end of Culture Abuse’s opening set for their show at the Music Farm on Saturday with joint headliners Joyce Manor and Wavves. Out of the three bands there, they were the only ones I hadn’t heard prior to the show, and they put on a set that managed to be a real surprise. The band’s set consisted of straightforward, tightly arranged punk songs, with the frontman’s excited and light attitude giving the band a fun vibe that the crowd fed off of. In particular, the opening song proved to be a very fast-paced, wild number that felt like a slightly heavier take on a Ramones tune. The later songs kept up the pacing, and the band may have ended up playing my favorite performance of the evening if not for Joyce Manor. At the very least, I’m definitely going to give their album a listen in the future, as they’ve shown great potential.
Interestingly, although the crowd was somewhat divided between fans of the two headliners, there was clearly shared enthusiasm for both headliners from everyone, which was best shown in the wild energy of Joyce Manor’s set. Right from the beginning of their opening song “Heart Tattoo,” the audience shouted along lyrics enthusiastically to almost every song of the show, including newer cuts from Cody like “Fake ID” and “Over Before it Began.” Particularly interesting was their cover of “Video Killed the Radio Star” from their record Of All Things I Shall Soon Grow Tired, which pushed the song from its normal pop groove into a faster paced and surprisingly emotional rendition. Along with that, another highlight of the set was “Christmas Card,” a slower number that still managed to hold good tension like the original studio version of the song. By this point, the audience started to get particularly rowdy, with people crowd surfing once every two minutes, and the band was clearly feeding off that excitement. They closed with “Constant Headache” a song from their self-titled record that really hammered home the set with chugging guitars and a particularly amped up response from the audience. Overall, Joyce Manor’s set was an exciting and very communal experience for the show, an entertaining display of a band at the top of its game.
The crowd was getting impatient for the final set with Wavves, with the bar set high after the first two shows. With the equipment from the others gone, the stage was open for Wavves to come on. Instead of that, though, they ended up fooling around from the green room windows, tossing out full rolls of paper towels to the audience to get torn around, and playing an odd game of peek-a-boo before that. Finally, after the long wait for their set, they came on with their song “Come to the Valley” over the PA, and then began their set for real with “Way Too Much” from their record V. At this point, the crowd went almost overboard with the frenzy it had been in earlier, with the mosh pit colliding wildly into everything around it, and I decided to join in because the band wasn’t playing anything that was too exciting for me personally. The several minutes of fun that provided wore off a bit quickly, and unfortunately from here the show kind of fell off, with the band not doing much to elevate their songs above the normal studio takes, which already felt like a rather overly generic blend of indie rock in my opinion. If I had to pick a highlight from this part of the show it would probably be the title track off their new album You’re Welcome, which managed to be a very quick and easy tune, with more memorable lyrics than some of the others. All in all, while I’m sure most people had an enjoyable time with their part of the show, they just couldn’t surmount the hype that had been projected onto them.
At the very least, the three bands here are worth your time as a whole unit, with Culture Abuse and Joyce Manor definitely making a good pairing to each other, and being a great fit for the Music Farm’s more tightly packed space. If the set were reordered to have Wavves be the second act, this might have actually been a perfect lineup, but other than Wavves’ lack of energy I found the whole evening to be a very well coordinated show, displaying three bands on different sides of the spectrum of punk playing out their parts quite well.