Surfer Blood at The Corner Hotel, Melbourne, 24/07/13
Last night four piece Surfer Blood played to an almost capacity crowd at the beloved Corner Hotel. The band, hailing from West Palm Beach Florida, have made the trek down under in light of their involvement in this year’s Splendour In The Grass festival; playing only two sideshows whilst here.
The night opened with local acts The Harlots and Jeremy Neale; both had been as appealing to me as the label on my beer that I had progressively peeled off. Shortly after, the young foursome took to the stage breaking into well known opener ‘Surfing Vibes’. The single from first album Astro Coast was a real hit with patrons and myself, though I was weary as the sound was quite off, in the fact you could barely hear vocalist and guitarist John Paul Pitts throughout the whole song. The level of feedback was too low and there was hardly enough distortion for that song. In saying that, I must have just been overly pedantic because the sound was exceptional throughout the rest of the set.
Continuing on from the first album vibe came ‘Twin Peaks’, which was again well received by the audience, whom, I must note, was a well mixed bunch. Although I held no expectations, I thought there would be a lot more of the ‘dedicated few’ fans, and yet, no one took a second look when bassist Kevin Williams and drummer Tyler Shwarz walked freely through the crowd. The band themselves certainly don’t scream sex, drugs and rock’n’roll, looking more suited to a frat house with a title derived from the Greek Alphabet, however, there on stage performance breaks that initial judgement.
Playing to a Melbourne crowd for just the second time, Surfer Blood ease into the instability of what is considered to be cool effortlessly, causing everyone to be just more enthusiastic towards the lesser-known songs as the hits. Third track from the new release Pythons was next with the enchanting lyrics of “Say Yes To Me”, sung pitch perfect by Pitts. His eclectic singing style is one that has obvious classical training. Often I would get lost in his over articulation whilst on stage; feeling learned of new songs that I had yet heard. This, along with seamless harmonies from backing vocals by fellow band members made you feel as though there were double the performers on stage, increasing the depth of the whole show. To top the song off, Pitts decides to leave the stage, only to wander through the crowd, much to fans delight.
A taste of 2011’s EP Tarot Classics was present in the set with ‘Miranda’. I felt there was a lot of Astra Coast on show tonight, but with hits like ‘Take It Easy’ and ‘Slow Jabroni’; there really is no cause for complaint. From what I did hear of Pythons was very impressionable and I look forward to investigating the album more. There was of course, an encore, with the most popular song of the night, ‘Swim’, first followed by epic closer ‘I’m Not Ready’, which really showcased drummer Shwarz’s immense talent.
Surf-rock bands have been present since the likes of Sunnyboys, Radio Birdman and the renowned Beach Boys. Surfer Blood manage to capture the sounds and influences of their hometown Florida in a way that transcends the modern youth culture. The dreamy surf gaze you hear from this band engulfs you in warmth. I look forward to seeing this band again in the future.