Review: Surfer Blood at Cafe Bourbon Street

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Thoughts on last night's Surfer Blood show coming right up after the jump...

Through a series of back-room squabbles not worth revisiting here, Wednesday's Surfer Blood show ended up in the cozy confines of Cafe Bourbon Street rather than the slightly more expansive climes of The Summit next door. Despite the always pleasant intimacy of Bobo shows, the venue shift was almost a big problem when the monitors stopped working during Surfer Blood's set. Thankfully, despite a bit of grumbling from the band, it didn't dampen their spirits or keep them from giving what may well become one of those "I saw them back when" performances.

That might seem like hyperbole, but these kids are legit — savvy and fully formed at an age when too many groups are still grasping for identity. Their boisterous but controlled set was a fresh air burst from what could have been just another over-hyped blog band. It was especially energizing in light of openers Tin Armor, immensely talented pop songwriters who this year have taken a bizarre turn toward mid-tempo milquetoast. (Bring back the spunk, gentlemen, and burn your Ben Folds solo records!)

Back to Surfer Blood, though. On record, this is guitar pop with bite, but guitar pop nonetheless. On stage, it takes on new levels of intrigue thanks mostly to Marcos Marchesani's percussive powers. When not manning the keyboard, he swings around with the reckless abandon of somebody from stomp, turning a tom and some cowbells into Surfer Blood's secret weapon.

Even without his contributions, though, Surfer Blood would be an above-average guitar-centric indie combo, as became clear when the show began with the first two songs from their forthcoming record Astro Coast. First it was the bustling current of "Floating Vibes," a lazy pop pleasure with enough crisscrossing guitars and vocals to knit a beach blanket. They followed with their most monstrous gesture, "Swim," a song that finds them screaming into the echo chamber rather than the abyss.

The would-be hits kept piling up from there, though I'm not familiar enough with the album yet to pick out exactly what they played. I know tropical digression "Take It Easy" was in there, not quite fitting in with the rest but making sense thanks to the group's Palm Beach origins. It all came to a head with closer "Anchorage," a classic slacker rock groove imbued with coastal cool and stretched out into a feedback monster jam.

Supposedly Surfer Blood might be coming through town again in March. It probably won't be as up close and personal as this engagement, but it will surely be worth your while.