On February 16th, Inner Wave kicked off their Jukebox Tour here in San Diego at the Observatory. Lead singer Pablo Sotelo was clearly excited to be back, even addressing some of the familiar faces in the crowd from their last tour in 2022. I became a fan of Inner Wave last year after catching them at the end of their Apoptosis Tour, so coming into the night, I had high expectations for another exceptional performance.
Unfortunately, I missed the first opener Junior Mesa but was able to catch the final half of the second opener Jordana’s set. Jordana has risen in popularity in recent years due to her collaboration with TV Girl on their album Summer’s Over. While playing songs like “Better in the Dark”, she had the entire crowd dancing and singing along to the dreamy lyrics. By the time Inner Wave was in the spotlight, the audience was coursing with anticipation.
Inner Wave has floated around the indie scene for the past few years, with some of their most popular hits being “Mushroom” and “American Spirits”. At just thirteen years old, they started playing as a group and produced their first album, III, in 2013. Since then, they’ve released four other albums and two EPs, the most recent being Apoptosis, which has garnered widespread success and has solidified itself as my personal favorite. Their extensive discography even earned them a spot at Coachella in 2022, where they shared the stage alongside a multitude of acclaimed artists. Apoptosis has brought the band high praise, allowing them to embark on a second solo tour under the same year, in addition to a mini tour with Foals. Despite slipping in and out of the mainstream over the last couple of years, with Apoptosis, it seems that Inner Wave has found confidence in their sound.
Inner Wave exploded on stage at 10:00 with one of my favorite songs, “Take 3”. The basslines and sparkling synths set the tone of the night, the entire crowd tuning in from the very start. While their studio versions have a strong sound, seeing them live is truly an unbeatable experience. Sotelo’s lo-fi vocals combined with the heavy bass plunged the audience into a psychedelic trance. The kaleidoscope of lights in the background added the perfect ambience to have the crowd buzzing under their control.
Sotelo was interacting with fans the entire night, even cracking some jokes before diving into the songs. For this tour, they looked at setlist recommendations off Spotify and held polls for the audience of the night to choose a special song for their respective shows. In the middle of the night, they brought Jordana out for a surprise duet of their newest single “Baby”, mesmerizing the audience with their on-stage chemistry. They played various classic hits as well, such as “Schemin” and “Estrella”, which infused the crowd with a nostalgic energy. For the poll, San Diego voted for “American Spirits”, so the band combined that with the popular release “Fever” for a paramount mashup to end the main show.
For their encore, Inner Wave returned with a cover of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” before slipping into a freestyled rendition of “1 4 2”. By the end of the night, the crowd was left satisfied with another memorable performance that once again exceeded my expectations. Regarding the future of Inner Wave, I look forward to seeing what opportunities lie in store and how their sound will continue to evolve.