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Waves and Radiation ride again

Local post-rockers Waves and Radiation reunite for one night only

WAVES AND RADIATION: Lyrics are for chumps. Photo credit: MySpace

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It's been two years and one month since instrumental rock band Waves and Radiation played its farewell show at Bob's Java Jive. On Saturday, the band will reunite for a special one-off return performance at the same coffee-pot-shaped venue where they called it a day back in 2009. Fans of Waves and Radiation will be pleased to hear that as far as guitarist Tristan McNabb is concerned, it's as if they'd never stopped playing together at all.

"We were kinda worried about it, before we actually got into the space and started playing together because it had been two years," McNabb says, "but once we got in there it was like riding a bicycle."

Guitarist Phil Stevens - whose relocation to his original East Coast stomping grounds prompted Waves and Radiation's premature dissolution - echoes this sentiment practically word-for-word over the telephone from almost 2,500 miles away.

"It's like riding a bike," he says. "I don't think we're going to have any trouble picking up where we left off."

Despite the continent that separates them, it's clear that Stevens, McNabb and bandmates Paul Lyon and Austin Iverson remain on the same wavelength (pardon the pun). Indeed, the band attributes much of its past success to a mutual musical like-mindedness, and the ineffable awesomeness brought out by their combined forces.

"Our individual influences and our attitudes towards music ... it really comes together. We never had to try very hard at all," says Lyon.

Waves and Radiation was a band truly greater than the sum of its parts, which makes it doubly surprising that Stevens, Iverson and former drummer Brad Edwards were discovered via online classifieds site

"Sometimes (craigslist) doesn't work out, and sometimes it works out brilliantly, as in this case," McNabb says, laughing.

Waves had been going strong for almost three years before Stevens moved back to New York to be closer to family. In 2006, the nascent group was heralded as the Volcano‘s "Best Experimental Band," and they burned brightly - and rocked cosmically - for the remainder of their too-short career. Though the band's sound was comparable to that of post-rock luminaries like Mogwai or Texas heavyweights Explosions in the Sky, at the time their influences were a varied coterie of other guitar-based alternative acts.

"What we were listening to when we really got going with Waves and Radiation was a lot of Isis and Boris, a lot of stuff where the guitar is really slow and intentional. There was (also) a lot of shoegaze when we started off," Stevens reveals. "I think we thought we were writing just verse-chorus-verse music, just without any words."

Stevens' conjecture speaks to the band's ability to both satisfy and transcend traditional rock structures, without the assistance of a "cog piece frontman strung out on his own ego," as Volcano Editor Matt Driscoll once put it. Vocals would have only distracted from Stevens and McNabb's intertwined, balletic guitar progressions, the mooring white-dwarf weightiness of Lyon's basslines and Iverson's metronomic timing.

In the time since they disbanded, their crescendo-ing instrumentals have still managed to attract new listeners. Though they've been off the radar for two years, the band nonetheless expects their Saturday show to be well-attended.

Says Lyon, "Everyone's gotten around to hearing us and hearing the album (Whom the Gods Notice, They Destroy), so we've actually gained fans since we've broken up."

If there's one thing the band can't guarantee, however, it's new music. McNabb hints cryptically at a shelved, unfinished EP which may never see the light of day (or the catharsis of completion), and Stevens yearns for enough time on the West Coast to help cook up some new material, but he'll only be visiting Tacoma for the weekend to celebrate his 30th birthday. While McNabb, Lyon and Iverson are rediscovering the joys of jamming together, Stevens has been dutifully playing along at home to the band's old recordings. Not that he needs much practice - as it turns out, rocking this hard is just like riding a bike: once you learn, you never really forget.

Waves and Radiation

Saturday, July 16, 9 p.m.,
Bob's Java Jive, 2102 S. Tacoma Way, Tacoma

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Comments for "Waves and Radiation ride again" (1)

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Justin G. said on Jul. 14, 2011 at 2:20pm

The Legend of Bigfoot kicks the show off Saturday night. Their first full show since last Fall. WTF?

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