Bumbershoot Music Lounge: Surfer Blood

Photos by Paul Israel

With the current explosion of so-called “beach bands”, it’s easy to forget a lot of people probably first heard about it after listening to a band like Surfer Blood — KEXP listeners certainly knew all about the band well before they had even played their first Seattle show. Certainly not originators or pioneers of the retro-beach surf movement by any means, their debut album, Astro Coast, was met with rave reviews and certainly held its own amongst a crowded field. In fact, it’s hard to imagine another debut album from a young band in recent history that was this good. Believe it or not, it was actually recorded in their University of Florida dorm room! Despite the Punk Rock name, this young West Palm Beach Florida 5-piece has created a cool sustainable sound for themselves; often times compared to bands like Pavement, Weezer, and Vampire Weekend. And remember, these guys are still just in their early twenties! Ah, to be young again…

We are happy to have Surfer Blood performing their first Bumbershoot show of the weekend with us — KEXP Music Lounge listeners are in for a treat.

Surfer Blood will be performing Sunday in the KEXP Music Lounge at 5:30 and on Monday at 7:30 on the Broad Street Stage.

If there is anything that Surfer Blood does not lack, it’s personality. While their name may sound intimidating or menacing, the band’s first song assured the audience that they are not out to kill them. They The bright sounding guitar and upbeat tempo in “Faster Jabroni” supported the optimistic melodies effortlessly.

The second song, “Take It Easy,” brought in more of the surf-rock vibe with big wave like guitar riffs. The keyboardist, Marcos Marchesan, took a break from the keys to play a single tom-tom while the drummer pounded away on the outskirts of the snare and some light taps of the high-hat. The beats gave a feeling of traveling to the song. As the summer is ending, Surfer Blood gave us a last taste of the bright sounds and good times that come with the season.The bands stage presence had the attitude of a punk group but not afraid to play songs that are poppy, upbeat, and fun.

As they lead into the song “Harmonix” the tone did take a change, going from summer fun to summer heartbreak. Of course, the song featured a lot of tastefully done harmonics on the lead guitar. Even bordering more on the lines of a ballad by the band’s standards, the song still packed a lot of punch. Less like an Elliott Smith ballad and more The Skids.

“Floating Vibes” had mixed guitar riffs alternating between The Ventures and 90s alternative rock. The heartbeat like drums kept the song in Surfer Bloods retro 60s pop styling. The smashing drums and choppy guitar stop and starting of “Swim” was a musical equivalent of hammers pounding nails, but in a way that is pleasing to the ears. As Marchesan ran across the stage to a pair snares, screaming, the song achieved even more greatness. The spirit of Iggy Pop and other shock rockers were shining through in that small glimpse of a moment.

“Catholic Pagans” started with a tremolo and guitar picking reminiscent of a slow dance at a sock hop. Once the bass started up the song got a bit edgier and by the time of the chorus things felt like it was a punk concert again. The lead singers swooning and swaying on the last song of the performance, a cover of Pavement’s “Boxelder,” had the charisma of a 70s rocker while still remaining oh-so 2010. This a band that only gets better from seeing them perform. They are very much a “live band.” Either that or in your car stereo traveling through California.

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