How Killer Waves Restored My Faith in the Garden State: Night Birds’ instrumental surf side project

by Jamie L. Rotante

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending Killer Waves’ second-ever show at the legendary Asbury Lanes in Asbury Park, New Jersey. For those not aware, Killer Waves are an all-instrumental side project of the band Night Birds, sans lead singer Brian while he’s off on paternity leave.

I had never been to a show at Asbury Lanes before, and was excited to finally attend one before the (rumored) mass-demolition of everything good in that area. I’m usually a big ol’ sourpuss when it comes to leaving New York and traveling nearly two hours for a show, but this was one I just couldn’t miss. And Asbury Lanes was easily one of the coolest venues I’ve been to. It reminded me of being a teen again and seeing my favorite local punk bands playing at the nearby bowling alley. That might also be because it was an all-ages show and a majority of the crowd was around the age I would have been then, but it didn’t bother me. I sucked down my Hop Devil and attempted to fend off the creepy vibes I was giving out by standing around looking cool and awkwardly smiling at people I recognized from bands.

What I love most about Night Birds shows is that anything can, and usually will, happen. In the short time I’ve been seeing them, I’ve witnessed technical difficulties aplenty and even a full-on blackout right near the end of one of their sets. Going to one of their shows is always a treat. There’s never a promise of a polished performance. There’s often a possibility of total chaos. There’s always a vibe of absolute fun. Seeing this gig made me feel like I was witnessing a friend’s band play their first show. The guys looked nervous and anticipatory of any possible setbacks, waiting for the floor to finally fill up while the crowd slowly filtered in. Unlike watching your friend’s band’s first show, the Killer Waves’ set kicked ass.

They started their set off with their awesome rendition of “Having an Average Weekend” by Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet, better known as the theme song from the Kids in the Hall. They also peppered their set with sound bites from Kids in the Hall as well as Seinfeld (as any Night Birds fan would expect) and Escape from New York, leading into their cover of John Carpenter’s theme, which can be found on their fantastic 2013 LP Born to Die in Suburbia, easily one of the best albums of the past year.

Along with brand new material, a few other instrumental Night Birds songs were sprinkled in their set, including “Boat Trash,” “Silver Alert,” “Day after Trinity,” and their cover of Eddie And The Showmen’s “Squad Car.” And as they played the crowd not only filtered in, but started to gravitate to the stage in droves. By the end of the set, they had everyone in the room dancing.

Keep an eye out for Killer Waves. Their first two shows were kind of test drives for the material they’ve been working on, but there’s more to come, including a 7” dropping sometime this year. I know I’m looking forward to what’s next. I should also mention, I’m also really looking forward to the triumphant return of the Night Birds on February 6, at Death by Audio in Brooklyn along with Tenement, Vacation, Groucho Marxists, and Nuclear Santa Claust. It’s no doubt going to be a fun time.

Oh, if you do happen to go to a show at Asbury Lanes, I highly recommend getting the loaded grilled cheese—it’s the good ol’ fashioned sammich with the added bonus of avocado. Also the cheese fries came with an extra-large side of cheese whiz so that was pretty rad, too.

Unfortunately, there are no Killer Waves videos online. Bummer! Here’s the Night Birds from the same show: