Live Review: Dark Waves at Bowery Ballroom

Mark Shiwolich Dark Waves

The Players: Nick Long, vocals, guitar; Chris Greatti, guitar, backing vocals; Ian MacGregor, bass; Jared Shavelson, drums.

Material: Los Angeles-based Dark Waves brought their own brand of indie rock to an eager and receptive audience. Aptly dubbed “electro-romantic,” they combine live instrumentation with electronic elements while thematically grappling with relationship woes. Longing, disappointment and isolation are tackled with sober restraint and a non- sentimental approach conveyed by strong imagery and thoughtful lyrics. This is evident in “I Don’t Wanna Be In Love,” the strongest song from their new EP: “If all that we are is too much in scars, lines in a movie, the same fated song, we both sing along, then I don’t wanna be in love.” In “Echo,” trying to forget a failed triste evokes a mood of emptiness and obsession: “And every time I try to let go you keep coming back like an echo.”

Musicianship: Frontman and songwriter Nick Long’s sultry, resonant bass voice and driven guitar work commands immediate attention. The overall interest level was heightened by the clarity of the lyrics. Many rock bands rely on the musical vibe for their performance, and the lyrics are often obscured and accepted on faith. Maybe you never learn what they are until you read them. While sticking to his musical guns, Long did so without sacrificing the words. With each band member equally pulling his weight, they combined clean, well- executed playing with electronica elements and compelling arrangements.

Performance: Dark Waves’ presentation was a no nonsense, no gimmicky affair—just solid, straight-ahead playing and good songs. They capitalized on their 30 minutes in the spotlight while still sparing a few moments to connect with the audience. Not straying too far afield from their subject matter, the band kept their musical statement pretty consistent, which didn’t offer as much variety as a longer set with more peaks and valleys might allow. Nevertheless, they succeeded in keeping the crowd engaged.

Summary: Dark Waves projects a maturity and centeredness not always present in a band at this career juncture. They used their time on stage economically, leaving behind a pretty strong footprint, which bodes well for their future. While some songs are more memorable than others; each possesses a craft and a mindfulness that is meaningful and complex.
– Ellen Woloshin