It's been a challenging few years for Florida's garage-rock natives, Surfer Blood. The four-piece have been through a lot since the release of their debut album: Allegations of domestic violence hit lead singer John Paul Pitts in 2012, followed by a 2013 label drop from Warner Bros. and band member Thomas Fekete's cancer diagnosis in 2015. But however rocky the road has been for Surfer Blood, the group — comprising Pitts, Fekete, Tyler Schwarz, and Kevin Williams — has gone back to basics, trading in major-label cred for indie imprint Joyful Noise. The result: a more mature sound and a reclaiming of the band's DIY ethos on 1000 Palms, Surfer Blood's triumphant third LP, due out May 12.
Guided By Voices w/Wavves, Surfer Blood
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Better than: Just hearing the show without seeing it, which is what everyone who lives on my street got to do anyway.
It's long been gospel that you can't tell Robert Pollard anything. Attempts by well-meaning biz types to get the pop-song savant to make things easier on people by downgrading his release schedule to merely flooding the market, or resisting his love of lyrical absurdism, were clearly not taken to heart by a man whose second 2011 release has a song called "Ash Ript Telecopter."
So if Pollard has decided that "Guided By Voices is a New York band," as he did during his reunited group's Northside Festival headlining set on Saturday, then there is no arguing the point that Guided By Voices are a New York band. Dayton, Ohio, he said, is only eight hours away from our fair city, so it's basically the same thing. Much like "people from Spokane say they're from Seattle."
Considering the enthusiastic response Pollard got earlier in his group's characteristically marathon set when, after praising the borough's beauty, he asked, "if I moved to Brooklyn, would you take care of me and my old lady?" I imagine that New York residents won't mind if Pollard fudges some geographical details as long as we can claim him as our own. (He elaborated: He'd get up, drink a lot of espresso, get a slice around 2 p.m. and head to the bar around happy hour. Get this man some sort of artisan hobbyhe'd probably excel at one of The Meat Hook's butchering classesand he would fit right in.)
The Drums, willing to pretend they're paying Madison Square Garden themselves. Photos by Nick, more below.
The Drums/Surfer Blood/The Young Friends/The Dewars
Wednesday, October 20
Better Than: There were how many performances yesterday? It had to be better than the vast majority.
Although last night's Webster Hall show was touted on the official CMJ schedule, the event felt almost above the festival's usual stock-market atmosphere, in which buzz and expectations often matter more than reality. Neither of the two headliners are new to this, and while this year's CMJ previews frequently invoke Surfer Blood (the consensus breakout stars of 2009), it's usually in asking who their 2010 equivalent might be. The show itself was in fact one of three going on in the Webster Hall complex, meaning that this venue alone offered at least an additional 10 acts (including, of course, that most tempting and omnipresent CMJ listing, "Special Guest") looking to become this year's festival darling. Last year's darlings were still pretty great, though.
This year, we proudly celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Siren Festival. In the history of the our free Coney Island corndog bonanza, no band has ever played Siren twice. This was a conscious decision on behalf of our fearless festival founder and organizer (who we've kindly rewarded with her own SOTC category), who long ago decided that if this crazy all-ages, free show thing ever reached ten years, Siren would rehost some of its best performers.
Supposed to be a "secret" who's in charge, but all we had to do is ask. The answer is. . . in the video. "A lot of the things I Twitter are the things I hear other dudes say," the Surfer Blood with the password explains. To wit, this gem: "Anyone remember the frozen Han Solo toy? All you could really do with it was lament." Nicest kids ever, in person. Ooh lookathe time.
Not a clunker in the bunch of this year's VVM SXSW afternoon party at La Zona Rosa: Surfer Blood, the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Superchunk, the xx. Surfer Blood, who'd by now lost count which number show this was, opened--and they are, as we later discovered, the nicest kids ever. Pains of Being Pure at Heart brought out new songs, remained earnestly cute. Superchunk did "Slack Motherfucker" (!). The xx caused a mook behind us to fake a lady-gasm--look/hope for a Surfer Blood collaboration in the not-too-distant future. Full gallery of self-aggrandizing photos over here, selected highlights below.
Probably should've known that the Surfer Blood bill at the Market Hotel on Saturday night was going to be sold way the hell out, especially when even Luke's Lobster in the East Village was playing Astro-Coast on Friday night. Nevermind the ominous symbolism in a bunch of Brooklyn kids texting back-and-forth about seeing a band called Surfer Blood while it still looked like a giant tsunami would obliterate Hawaii and all the jackass boarders waiting for the rides of their lives, but by 10:30 pm on Saturday, when the J train unloaded at Myrtle/Wyckoff and half the passengers headed to the same unmarked door, nobody who wasn't already on a list was getting inside. Apparently the show was something special: "unreal," according to band itself, with a head count of 875 (!) people--more than three times the capacity of the Mercury Lounge, where they played the next night. Can't tell how packed it is from the live footage of "Swim" posted below, but damn, that's a lot of flashbulbs.
Surfer Blood, doing their thing at the Cake Shop, circa CMJ. Photo by Rebecca Smeyne.
Yeah, it's still months away, but someone has to kick SXSW season off, right? So it is with some pride and anticipation that we announce the Village Voice's 2010 SXSW party, featuring Superchunk, the xx, the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, and our old sparring partners, Surfer Blood. Friday, March 19, La Zona Rosa, Austin, TX, 12pm - 5pm. Free, first come first serve, open to the general public. These bands are alternately old friends and young heroes to us, so it just didn't seem worth keeping it secret any longer. You will probably forget, but we will definitely remind you. And if you forgot who these other guys were in the first place...