Surfer Blood - Digital, Brighton - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Surfer Blood - Digital, Brighton

by Bob Coyne Rating: Release Date:

Enough surf. Not enough blood. Due to traffic, and a pathological need to eat, I only saw the last song-and-a-half performed by Brighton's own Lovepark. In retrospect, this was unfortunate, as what I heard from them showed promise and tonality, and didn't immediately remind me of any other band. Perhaps you can see where this is going…?

The second band to grace the stage of Digital was No Joy. They obviously thought long and hard about what they wanted to be known as. I think they achieved their Ronseal objective. Their set was one long effects-peddled nod to what musos call the 'shoegaze' genre; a series of songs that merged into and out of one another, without any sense of drive or purpose. While some of the riffs were interesting, and the vocalist was clearly talented, nothing about what No Joy were performing really stood out as being interesting or original.

At the risk of repeating what others before have said, there was a definite Sonic Youth vibe to the set, with a small amount of what sounded like techno-drumming thrown in, for reasons I never found out, though at this point I would like to congratulate the drummer on his sterling work. At times I couldn't help but tap along to the sounds eminating from the stage, but I think it was more out of a sense of urgency created by the drummer, under the lethargy of the guitars and vocals, than any real sense of enjoyment. I always feel it's unfair to assume a band is trying to emulate another but No Joy, for me, only succeeded in creating a wall of sound that was too much a hark back (though they may call it a revival) to that which has gone before. For me it missed the mark.

Things started looking up, then, when a bespectacled, hawaiian shirt wearing, spare member of Weezer rocked up and started sound-checking. You know you're in for a good time when there's a hawaiian shirt in your midst, right?! Well… I've got to say, I was a little disappointed when the band walked on - not a loud shirt in sight - but the first few bars of their opening track were enough to pep me up, after the emotional black-hole that was No Joy.

But then the singing started.

I'm sorry, I know it takes a pair to stand on stage and sing to an audience, and at this juncture I just sound like I was in an unforgiving mood (maybe I was; maybe I should have missed Lovepark entirely and eaten more), but the first forays of John Paul Pitts' voice into the deceptively large venue were weak and insipid. To save some repetition on my part, I will surmise: Surfer Blood are a young band seemingly trying to follow in the footsteps of Weezer. Almost every song they played sounded like Weezer. I love Weezer, but even Weezer don't sound as much like Weezer over the same space of songs as Surfer Blood.

Their last song, however, in a break from tradition, sounded a lot like they'd taken slices from Feeder's 'Buck Rogers', but since I couldn't always work out what was being said/sung, I can neither confirm nor deny whether it was indeed a cover. It would be churlish of me to say I in no way enjoyed Surfer Blood's set, as there were moments (that didn't sound like Weezer) that had a fun kind of calypso thing going on - something you don't hear every day - and an instrumental section towards the end (not a dig at Mr Pitts, as his voice did seem to grow as the set went on) which exhibited some pretty impressive guitar and drums.

The highlight came when the band disappeared offstage (there's more, hang on…), and, returning for an encore, were greeted with a loud and excitable request for 'The Sweater Song' [by someone wholly unrelated to me]. It was the claim that their songs are all about the party ("We're gonna party all fucking night!" - a statement I'm convinced John Paul Pitts is too young to throw out into a crowd) that amused me, along with some rather cheesy arm gestures Jon Bon Jovi wouldn't touch nowadays, but a small core group of fans at the front were giving it their all, with equally flamboyant gestures.

Not a party I'd be bothered about going to, but then, probably, I'm not the sort of person they'd want there anyway.

Comments (2)

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Great review!

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I second that, great review - saw Surfer Blood support Interpol and I cannot remember anything they did, so they left me with a lasting impression

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