Review: Surfer Blood deliver on the hype at the State Theatre in St. Petersburg
After a meteoric rise following their the release of their debut album, Astro Coast, in January, West Palm Beach’s Surfer Blood finally ventured across the state for a show at the State Theatre. Having spent most of the year touring both the States and Europe, Surfer Blood arrived in St Petersburg a well-oiled unit.
To pull off a headlining tour with only one 10-song album is a lot to ask of a young band, but Surfer Blood made it work. Lead by singer/guitarist John Paul Pitts, whose rich voice sounds years beyond his cherubic young looks, the band played through a dynamic 11-song set that included a few new tracks.
While Surfer Blood commonly get compared to Weezer and Pavement, there is certainly much more going on. They opened their set with Fast Jabroni, which has more in common with mid-’80s Brit-pop than the aforementioned bands. Up next were Take It Easy and Twin Peaks, which have a bit of a Vampire Weekend-ish vibe to them. Is it too soon for Vampire Weekend to be influencing bands? Maybe, but If Surfer Blood copped any chops from them, they twisted it back into their own style.
A few tracks later the band played Floating Vibes, which is the mostly likely culprit for the Weezer/Pavement comparisons. It’s easy to break down the song: the verses sound Pavement-eaque, the chorus could be a stripped-down Surf Wax America from Weezer. But that and any other attempt to compare them to other bands really sell Surfer Blood short. If anything, Surfer Blood owes more to late-’50s, early-’60s garage rock than they do any band of the last 20 years.
By they time the band climaxed with their breakout single, Swim, they were in full swing and had a comfortably full State Theatre bouncing and clapping along, with even a few crowd-surfers. In a show of maturity for such a young band, it looked as if a few guitars were about to get smashed but were instead gently put down.
What Surfer Blood have created is uniquely their own. Each song is full of little twists and turns. They don’t rely on sheer volume to get their point across, but use it in bursts to accent the subtle moods and textures created with just hints of fuzz on the guitars. Live, Surfer Blood delivered on all the hype that surrounds them. The new songs that were played show the band pushing themselves in the right direction, building on the solid foundation they have laid down.
Ironically, the band closed their two-song encore with a cover of an early Pavement track, Box Elder. Ironically, they played it better than I’ve seen Pavement do it.
— Gabriel Loewenberg, tbt*