Day Wave is the passion/solo endeavor from Oakland, California native Jackson Phillips. After a couple of solid EPs and singles, he released his debut LP, ‘The Days We Had’ in May via Harvest Records. In vein of popular indie acts such as Real Estate, Wild Nothing, early Beach Fossils, DIIV, and even The Radio Dept., Day Wave has developed a formula that may not be wildly original, but does offer lush songs that are simply good without trying too hard. Bottom line, the dreamy aesthetics that were crafted work quite well. ‘The Days We Had’ is a solid collection of tunes for those yearning the earlier days of the abovementioned artists (all of which have released records within the past year or two that didn’t reach the same heights as their earlier material). On Wednesday night, at the popular El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles, I had the privilege of not only discovering the talents of relatively unknown acts such as Dear Boy and Blonder, but was presented with a stellar 17-song showcase by Day Wave, which is a lot of great music considering they only have one LP and two EPs.
Opening the night with the first track off his debut LP ‘Something Here,’ the track was driven by polished guitars and shimmering synths in the backdrop and buoyant vocals in the forefront. The song, capturing more of a feeling than a particular story, put the crowd, mostly of early to mid twenty year olds, in full attentive mode. The follow up track was ‘Gone,’ an earlier cut from the Day Wave project. It’s a reflective tune about loneliness, but Phillips can make the emotionally driven lyrics sound relatively optimistic. The ethereal setting created a nice atmosphere as the performance was tight and sharp, echoing an ‘80s guitar vibe. Speaking of the 80s, how could they not throw in a cover for good measure? This came in the form of ‘Ceremony’ by probably one of the most influential bands for this type of music, New Order. Hopefully, the audience knew it was a cover despite their age because Phillips owes a lot to band like New Order. Fortunately, Day Wave’s rendition gave the song justice as a commendable cover.
As the band was rolling through their set with minimal interruption or breaks between songs, the audience was greatly invested in what was honestly a beautiful time at the El Rey. Later in the evening, Matt Nordness from the second act of the night, Blonder, came out on stage to lend his vocals on, ‘We Try but We Don’t Fit In.’ It was the most exhilarating of songs for the evening as the chorus lifted the audience with the indelible hook, I’ve made a mess with all of my friends/I made a mess, I’ll do it again. From the expressions of those in attendance, it was clear the line resonated deeply for most of us.
[contentblock id=141 img=adsense.png]
‘On Your Side,’ another highlight of the evening sparkled with pensive melodies, romantic themes, and meditative lyrics. It’s difficult not to be impressed by Day Wave’s musicianship. While Phillips’ Day Wave moniker is a solo act, he has a touring band supporting him. Just from the debut album alone, Day Wave performed seven tracks, including one of their most promising songs, ‘Wasting Time.’ Definitely a young adult anthem, Phillips taps into a younger generation dealing with the trials and tribulations of coming of age (which doesn’t even have a set age as we look aimlessly into the future).
What makes Day Wave great besides the heart-on-their-sleeve lyrics and wistful echoes is how easily they can connect with their perceptive audience. After the show, I overheard a twenty-something year old guy floored by the performance and the feelings he felt. He made a comment about the music, the tight musicianship on stage, and this concept of witnessing live music that provokes a certain feeling. You know, there’s nothing like going to a show and seeing one of your favorite bands and realizing everyone here is present for the same reason. In a cliché way, it’s a remarkable thing that strangers, just faces in the sea of a crowd can leave their outside world at the door and unite to support a band that means something to us on an individual level, but also on a communal one too.
The Days We Had is available now via Harvest Records.