Surfer Blood House of Blues Bronze Peacock Room March 22, 2011
Thanks to the success of their debut album, last year's Astro Coast, Surfer Blood quickly became one of 2010's most sought-after indie-rock bands, their catchy garage-surf-rock singles topping myriad year-end lists.
Aftermath caught Surfer Blood's set at last summer's Pitchfork Music Festival; the crowd practically overflowed from the allotted area of the fest's smaller "C" stage--six months after the release of their debut album, and these young Floridians already required a bigger stage at one of the nation's most credible music festivals.
Thankfully, we had the opportunity to see them in the House of Blues' Bronze Peacock Room Tuesday night, a venue light-years more intimate than any fest setting. Fresh off their SXSW buzz, Surfer Blood took the stage following fellow Floridian openers Holiday Shores and The Dewars.
While Astro was in our heavy 2010 rotation, Aftermath still managed to forget just how young this band was until we saw them again. As they took the stage for opener "Fast Jabroni," it was hard not to momentarily coo at their baby-faces.
After the first song, singer/guitarist John Paul Pitts motioned to the soundboard, "More guitar." This simple act defines, in part, the Surfer Blood essence: They're purposely - yet tastefully - loud and guitar-centric, and Tuesday night was no exception.
"This song goes out to anyone here who was at our Mango's show circa 2009," Pitts said, before the band played what is easily among Astro's best tracks, the hook-laden "Harmonix." While only a few responded to Pitt's dedication, most there knew all the songs and the front row sang along with Pitt's every word.
Sprinkled into the Astro-heavy mix were a few new tunes, which provided a promising peek into the band's forthcoming album. New material sounded along Astro lines, but with a more Britpop/Smiths tinge.
Pitts pulled a girl from the front-row onto the stage for new song "I'm Not Ready." While she repeatedly refused his offer to take lead vocals, she amusingly had no qualms initiating some dirty dancing with the singer, which provided the audience (and band) with some mid-show laughs.
"It's a new song," Pitts explained. "We wanted to test its danceability."
Despite his young age, Pitts held his own as front man, complimented by Fekete's sporadic witty commentary. As the set progressed, Pitts grew more open with the crowd: "This next song is about the biggest problem in my life," he said, before confessing, "I have never had a fucking girlfriend."
Among equal-parts audible crowd solace and blatant chuckles, Pitts continued his candid streak, "I've never been in love - and I wouldn't know it if I was!" Seemingly suddenly aware of his frankness, he compensated with a simple sentiment.
Astro track "Swim" closed the set, as the band kind-of-sort-of left the stage while the crowd cheered for an encore. "It's so cheesy to wait for the 'One More Song' chant; next time we'll just stay up here," Fekete joked as he strapped on his guitar.
It's hard to believe Surfer Blood carries this much cred, having so far released only one album. When an audience member asked about the forthcoming release, Fekete again joked, "Our new album comes out in 2013, the day after the world ends. It's called Post-Revelations and it's going to make us famous."
"This song is for anyone who gets out of bed in the morning and says 'I'm not going to do what I did yesterday - today I'm going to try something new,'" Pitts dedicated, before the band played set closer "Anchorage." As the song ended, Pitts leaped off the stage and into the crowd, still playing guitar as he was quickly surrounded by a mass of camera-snapping fans, before returning to the stage only to climb atop the drum kit and taking to the mike for one last verse.
"The stars at night are big and bright," he sang, the crowd unsurprisingly finishing the line in unison.
Whether Pitt's encore antics illustrate his confidence or premature pompousness as a frontman, one thing is sure: Surfer Blood know how to close out a memorable show.
Personal Bias: SB sounded tighter, more polished than last time I saw them - and what a cool, small venue in which to see them.
The Crowd: Front-row superfans and (some) Polo-shirt-wearing bros. Overall a respectful, in-the-know crowd.
Overheard In the Crowd: "I love you!" "Fuck me!" "I'm pregnant!" - All heard at separate times, and all courtesy of the same dude.
Random Notebook Dump: Hearing SB's "Box Elder" cover could have been fun...
Fast Jabroni Twin Peaks Pixies Harmonix Floating Vibes Fast Song (new) Neighbor Riffs Island Take It Easy I'm Not Ready (new) Swim
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New Song (new) Anchorage