SO STOKED that I got to catch the DREAMY Day Wave for their first ever headline show at The Rickshaw Stop last week as part of SF’s NoisePop festival. It was no secret that Day Wave was to be playing NoisePop this year, for the musical mind behind Day Wave – Jackson Philips– was actually featured on the cover of this year’s NoisePop magazine. In fact, it was my friend -the incredibly talented and very much in-demand music photographer, Paige Parsons– that took the awesome photo. Initially trained as a jazz drummer at the prestigious Berklee College of Music (Boston, MA) from the age of nine, Phillips eventually found himself trapped in a Whiplash (yes, the movie) kind of world where people were “very competitive” and “not very nice to each other.” During college especially, he realized that he was more interested in making songs than in perfecting his drumming technique, and this epiphany inspired him to learn piano and song production. By the end of junior year, he was already creating his own synth-based songs and releasing these through his first band, Carousel.
Fast forward a few years, and Philips decides to leave Carousel to pursue his own solo project, Day Wave. This pursuit involved him teaching himself guitar (for which he learned all by ear) and moving away from synths. By July 2015, he was ready to release his debut “lo-fi guitar-based indie rock EP” – Headcase – that was recorded entirely by himself at his home studio. I can definitely see him as a music hermit (similar to Trevor Powers of Youth Lagoon) that spends ALL DAY in his bedroom crafting different arrangements without leaving the house for hours on end (I learned from Powers that this was indeed the case for him). All of that intense introverted-ness and die-hard devotion eventually paid off for Philips (and Powers too of course), for the five tracks on his Headcase EP prove to be a unique brand of dreamy, lo-fi surf rock that is CATCHY AS HELL. With influences of New Order, Joy Division, and The Beach Boys/ Brian Wilson, Day Wave’s wistful, melancholy lyrics are perfectly matched with happy hooks (guitar) and persistent percussion (you can tell he was a drummer). This EP is MY JAM right now, and a SOLID CHOICE for your summertime playlist!
Only 26 years old, Philips has a COLOSSAL career ahead of him, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he wins “best breakout band” (or something along those lines) at this year’s The Great Escape Festival in Brighton, UK (just outside of London). I went to this festival both years that I lived in London, for it reminds me of Europe’s mini SXSW and is a SERIOUS stomping ground of international music talent (3 days = 400+ bands/artists from 30 different countries). I’m still shocked by all of the budding bands I was lucky enough to see there before they BLEW UP (including two recent Brit award winners, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Jack Garratt, James Bay, and a Australian Recording Industry Association winner, Courtney Barnett). I’ve already given a heads up to my music pals in the UK to make sure they check out Day Wave– they are a MUST SEE!
Although Dave Wave hadn’t sold out their show at the Rickshaw (would have been pretty impressive for their first headliner), they were surely greeted by a roomful of dedicated fans hailing from Oakland and the surrounding Bay Area. The guy standing next to me was just one of many, and he kept raving on about how Day Wave’s Headcase EP was his favorite album right now.
Kicking off full force, Day Wave started the set with Nothing at All, one of my favorites from the EP and arguably the CATCHIEST of their collection. Nothing at All was the first song Philips wrote for Day Wave, and the first time he put himself out there with such open, honest lyrics:
“What am I good for?
Somebody tell me
Cause I don’t know anymore
What am I good for?
Somebody tell me
Cause I don’t know anymore.” SO GOOD.
Next up was Total Zombie, the track that I must admit to having the strongest connection with the first time I heard it. Like a “total zombie,” I fell numb to this dreamy ditty and was instantly lured into joining the catchy chorus: “So just close your eyes and I’ll close mine.. Let me close your heart, it just takes time… And we’ll be alright, we’ll be alright.” Apparently, this song was recorded all instrumental before the lyrics came. Whatever the process… it worked well!
Then came Drag, a sweet gloom-pop melody that was apparently a drag to finish (Philips’ “most tedious song to write”) but we are sure glad he didn’t give up on it: “I’m stuck in my head.. I don’t wanna let you in.”
Soon after was a song called I’ll Be Fine (I think?), another gloomy ditty that just WORKS and is undeniably addictive: “I’ll be fine on my own, as long as I’m waiting
I’ll be fine alone, so leave me alone.”
Similar to that was Wasting all my time (I think?), one that again lures you in to a certain gloomy-but-gleeful state: “I’m wasting all my time… I push it all away.”
… as well as another track for which I don’t know the name:
Nearing the end, Day Wave plays Gone, an unreleased track that has already gained a lot of popularity on SoundCloud: “I feel this way alone and i feel this way… I feel this way alone and you’re gone, you’re gone..”
It’s no surprise that Philips saved Headcase for last, as he once noted in an interview that this track was his “favorite of the bunch” and his “favorite to play live.” He described it as “summing up the whole theme of EP” (hence the title track). Cheers to the ‘headcase’ in all of us: “Cause I don’t feel right anymore… so bury me alive… this time.” EPIC ENCORE.
I definitely left the Rickshaw on “cloud nine” that night, and thanks to the EP, have been keeping my headcase self “in the clouds” ever since. 🙂
Bands they’ve played with: Rogue Wave, Blonde Redhead
Other version on my personal music blog: https://beatsthatsetmypulse.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/day-wave-so-just-close-your-eyes-and-ill-close-mine-let-me-close-your-heart-it-just-takes-time-and-well-be-alright-rickshaw-stop-feb-25-2016/