Friday, February 26, 2010

Concert Review: Surfer Blood

Who knew there were so many Floridians in DC? The crowd at DC9 Wednesday night seemed to be littered with little conglomerates of Florida folk who came out to see that band that made it out. Florida isn’t quite renowned for the indie-rock it produces (are we counting Dashboard? No. But I want to), and perhaps that made the experience all the more special. The show had an appropriately casual feel to it; without an elevated stage and the performers eye-level with the crowd made the show more like it was at Jeff’s house party than a DC bar.
I get the sense that Surfer Blood got more popularity than they could handle quite yet. This is a pretty common phenomenon, but maybe some other bands are better at playing it off. Though front man John Paul Pitts says that the hype from pitchfork and John Norris don’t really change the way he looks at the album, I think it inherently has changed their expectations of themselves.

This sounds negative, and I am not totally sure that it is. It’s true that on stage they all (with the exception of Marcos Marchesani and his crazy hair) looked a bit uncomfortable, small, maybe scared? There was a particularly acute moment when Pitts climbed up on the amp facing the crowd and peered nose-to-screen into the television that was paying a direct feed of the concert, as if to say, “Damn, is that really us on TV?” I didn’t get the sense that they were having fun; I got the sense that they were counting time and thinking of the next verse in the song. They haven’t established that elusive sense of fluidity that comes with relentless touring, and probably only relentless touring. Once they can communicate fluently with one another on stage, they can spend more time being rock stars and less time being musicians. I’m not advocating the smashing of any guitars, but they just need their showmanship to match their musicianship.

There is good news to all this, though: the concert sounded great. Their execution was flawless, and I think it’s a result of them taking this new found popularity, one well deserved, very seriously. The position that they are in, with talent exceeding attitude, is a position which I much prefer to the opposite. A band with more attitude than talent works for maybe Ryan Adams, but nobody else is allowed to play that game. Surfer Blood’s opener, Turbo Fruits, tried to play that game, and lost badly. The lead singer spent more time making googly-eyes with the shortays in the front row than paying attention to what distorted pentatonic scale he was playing. I made a chart to make this more clear. Here is Turbo Fruits:

And here is Surfer Blood:

What I’m saying here is that these two need to find a common ground. Though I am not convinced that there is any way to salvage Turbo Fruits, I am thoroughly convinced that not only is there a way to bring Surfer Blood to that next level, but that they will inevitably do so with time. 
-- Igor German
Host, "Is This Thing On," Sundays 12-1 pm and Wednesdays 9-10 pm on WGTB


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igs said...

oh man its wasn't actually me this time

Enrique said...

I heard it was an incredible show. Sad I missed this.