Some bands are amazingly over-hyped. Surfer Blood, for all their potential are probably one of them.
Their first LP, ‘Astro Coast’ was generally well received by most, with Pitchfork leading the way in claiming them to be saviours of guitar albums. While it is a tidy album, with inventive use of effect pedals and notably – silence, ‘Astro Coast’ was nothing truly ground-breaking. But not every band has to break the mould. ‘Astro Coast’ is a good album, one which has received numerous plays here at Deadl.ie Towers, but it does not live up to the hype. Tracks like ‘Swim’, ‘Harmonix’ and ‘Floating Vibes’ are fantastic pieces of work, but become lost in an album that retraces itself, using beats and basslines that are too familar to what have gone before.
Unsurprisingly, in the live setting of The Academy then, Surfer Blood had trouble keeping the half-capacity crowd focused. It probably didn’t help that they took to the stage with “Wow! What a crowd – Ireland, you guys rock”; Sarcasm is hard to pull off well on stage. Kicking off with ‘Floating Vibes’ resonated better, getting a large portion of the crowd moving. However by song three, things were already become somewhat juvinile on stage. Lead singer John Paul Pitts, ditched the set-listed ‘Take it Easy’, for a cover of Weezer’s ‘Undone (Sweater Song)’. Keyboardist Brian Black abandoned his keys to supply the “background vocals” (“Hey Buddy!” etc) with his shirt over his head. “We just saw Weezer before we came here, and we’ve always wanted to cover that song”, he admits “so sorry if it was a bit rough”. Vocals are forgotten hereafter and the band joke mid-song with one another on stage.
By now the crowd seems to have swelled slightly in size. Rumours were circulating that the show had been cancelled, some claiming it was because of Gerry Ryan’s death earlier in the day, much to the bemusement of staff. Those that had stayed away initially, seemed to eventually make their way over for the end of the show. From then it was all above board until ‘Swim’ sees the band off stage. The crowd light up for the final number, jumping in time and sending a noticeable smile across Pitts’ face.
With Nirvana’s ‘About a girl’ in the small encore (complete with Cobain’s yelp and drawl) the night was an interesting mix of indie-pomp and garageband covers. It was disappointing in parts, perhaps due in part to the enormous weight these young men carry on their shoulders. It was the first night of their European tour, so perhaps it was first night nerves. Who knows.
There’s no doubting that Surfer Blood are good overall. They’re just not that good. Yet.
Oh and check out the tee-shirts:
Remind you of anything… Joy Divisoney?: