Surfer Blood may look every bit their youthful age, but they play with an ease and professionalism that makes you forget that. The boys from West Palm Beach, FL projected a modest confidence the moment they stepped out onstage, where they were greeted by a large, enthusiastic crowd. They were tight and polished and beaming throughout the set; singer John Paul Pitts frequently said just, “Thank you” into the mic, while lead guitarist Thomas Fekete perfected that lanky teenaged slouch over in the corner and played with a small smile. Their obvious enjoyment at being onstage was contagious, and fit perfectly well with the uplifting melodies of their songs. They opened with the drones of “Floating Vibes”, to many cheers, and went into my favorite, “Catholic Pagans”, not long after; most of the songs were obviously from their dorm-room recorded album Astro Coast. “Swim (To Reach the End)” was thrilling and practically euphoric. I swear there were fist-pumps in the crowd.
The band also invited crowd members up onto the stage, which subjected us to some goofy dancing and unintelligible yelling into the microphone, as well as lots of hugs. Surfer Blood fans really like to hug the band. Fekete asked if anyone wanted to come up and play guitar on one song – “Take It Easy”, I think – as Green Day has been known to do at their shows. The audience member who volunteered (at center in the photo below) turned out to be a decent guitarist, so it ended well.
There was also more crowd-surfing than I expected, even though the music is pop-rock after all. It just has so many satisfying elements of the Beach Boys thrown in, albeit also Weezer, The Pixies and a little Sonic Youth for good measure. The songwriting is clever, and the vocal melodies and lead guitar lines have a sophisticated catchiness.
Pitts announced the upcoming release of Tarot Classics, about which Fekete told us, with a smile, “It’s too short.” Then they kicked off the web single “Miranda” which you can listen to here, and later a more plaintive new one, “I’m Not Ready”. All together there was much energy and happiness. I’m looking forward to hearing the EP, which Kanine Records releases on October 25, too short or not. It will be the last Kanine release, apparently, as the boys have been signed to Warner Bros.
Photos by Simone Snaith