Concert Review: Surfer Blood at Glasslands: March 1, 2014
There is something about the bands that I see at southeast Williamsburg’s Glasslands Gallery that runs in common. It isn’t intentional, and I’m not sure that I can even quite put my finger on it, but I think I can draw a line that goes through FIDLAR, Wavves, Hollerado and now Surfer Blood that connects them all.
When I went to see Wavves and FIDLAR play together there last year, I said: “Despite its meager size (I’d guess it fits 250 people tops), odd location in southeast Williamsburg and sub-optimal layout for live music, Glasslands manages to get some truly terrific acts … Wavves, with supporting act FIDLAR, a show that could easily have sold out a larger local venue such as Music Hall of Williamsburg but felt at home in this intimate, sweaty, dive bar setting.”
I could have written those exact same words about Surfer Blood. I’ve been a fan since their first full album Astro Coast (which has their excellent hit single “Swim”) and was impressed even more by their second LP Pythons, released last year. I’d meant to see them before last night and now that I finally did I can say that the show was a fun one, as expected. Sure, their songs may all sound the same, but so what? It’s a pretty good sound. Their brand of rock is cheery, sing-along, an easy-to-listen-to surf rock band. Surfer Blood is no more and no less. They’re never going to be anyone’s favorite band, but they’re pretty hard to dislike too.
There was a comparison I wanted to make, and then to my own surprise I saw this – something I didn’t remember writing about FIDLAR: “While it doesn’t quite reach the level of the near-perfect blue album (Weezer’s self-titled debut), FIDLAR (itself a self-titled debut) reminds me a lot of that band circa 1994, right down to the surfing references.” Again, I want to say the exact same thing about Surfer Blood. Younger listeners might not get it, but I think the Weezer comparison is apt. (And no, I don’t think every band that plays Glasslands sounds like Weezer.) Throw out the silliness of the blue album and you have a sing-along geek-rock joy ride. For the small but loyal crowd at Glasslands on Saturday night the feeling was the same.
Unfortunately I don’t have the show’s setlist but based on my recollection I’d say it’s similar to – if not exactly the same – as this one. While I personally enjoyed it all, start to finish, it was hard to get too immersed in the show, as often happens at this sub-par venue. Glasslands has poor sight lines, weak sound and a vibe from some of the audience that is a little too cool for school. That changed late in the show, as the final four songs of the main set received by far the best response of the night. It began with “Say Yes To Me“, then an extended version of the main single off of Python, “Demon Dance“, the aforementioned “Swim“, and finally “Drinking Problem”. Starting with Say Yes To Me but continuing all the way through to the end, the applause from the crowd (which still didn’t dance as much as you’d expect) was strong.
Stream “Swim” below, and listen to Surfer Blood. You may not have heard of them, but I promise you’ll like them.