Thursday, June 2, 2016

Nada Surf - Big Thief - Bird of Youth -- 9:30 Club - Jun 1 2016

Bird of Youth - Quirky pop rock and jangly flowing rock bob and weave with each other to find their space for this Brooklyn quintet. The band features dedicated female vocals atop a couple guitars and a rhythm section. So nothing terribly fancy here, just steady solid rock music, cleanly delivered a bit tough at times, but mostly in a warm friendly manner. And thus, they went over well with the incoming crowd. The songs vary in quality as I heard on their album that I reviewed last week. And again, their song 'Dad' (or was it 'Dad 2') was a powerhouse.

Big Thief - Sandwiched in between two more predictable and quality drenched bands, comes this intriguing quartet. Also featuring female vocals, although with guitar for most songs in keeping with the two guitar sound we would have all night tonight. Yet, the range of sound was wildly varied here. The band started with three of them watching the singer open with a quiet solo effort of voice and guitar. After that oddly quiet beginning, the band kicked in a rolling rhythm to get things moving. The second guitar was finally brought in and added some unique counterpoints. The songs went quite esoteric in an experimental pop sort of way. They could rock as well, but still threw change-ups with the male guitarist doing a brief a capella cut and then finally fading out with a similar song to the opener. Different, but mostly quite exciting and daring and it all made a lasting impression between these ears.
Nada Surf - This veteran quartet is still led by Matthew Caws on lead vocals and guitar with plenty of vocal help from long time drummer Ira Elliott and secret weapon, guitarist Doug Gillard. I have long been a fan of the ex-GBV and Death of Samantha musician and he fits in well here, with Nada Surf's strong and smooth power-pop/indie rock hybrid. The songs feature equal parts Byrds, Raspberries, and Hüsker Dü. And these are excellent songs rich in hooks and power, that can stand with the best of those bands. It is all warmly delivered, but with plenty of strength and conviction underneath. They introduced a touring bass player if I heard correctly and he locked right into this fine band. File this show under that ever increasing list of bands that I really should have seen long ago. But better late than never, as they still have all it takes to put on a great rock set.

Quote of the Night: From Mr. Caws - "I was going to make a joke about wanting to tour with the best 'B' bands. The Beatles, Byrds, Beach Boys, and Bad Brains weren't available, so we settled for the fifth and sixth best. Well, I guess I made that joke."

Good choices, but how about... Bad Company, Brownsville Station, Black Oak Arkansas, and Boy George?  Nah. Let's try Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, Budgie, and the Buzzcocks.


CHIP72 said...

Hey David - thanks for the review. I was also at the Nada Surf show, and I think your review sums things up pretty well. After what I thought was a slow start, Nada Surf really kicked it into gear and delivered a strong show, one of the best ones I've seen (and heard) by a headliner out of the dozen or so shows I've seen so far in 2016. As for the openers, I thought Bird of Youth had a pinch of country flavor in their indie rock sound that gave them an appealing sound, while Big Thief was definitely a change-up - more miss than hit to my ears, but their stronger songs were very strong. Maybe it's my huge Hüsker Dü/Sugar/Bob Mould fan bias toward bands that have a similar sound talking, but I was surprised more people didn´t come to see Nada Surf; the 9:30 Club pulled the stage forward, yet the room was still nowhere close to being filled.

My only complaint is Nada Surf either needed to play a somewhat shorter set or have only one opener. Having shows end on a weeknight at 12 AM isn't fun. (Luckily I live in downtown Silver Spring and was able to take the 70 bus home, but I know I saw a number of people leave before the end of the show.)

David Hintz said...

Thanks, Chip. Yeah we heard a lot of the same things. I was not surprised it did not sell out, but I thought it would be a bigger crowd, too. And great points on the timing and numbers of bands on a weeknight. I get really tired in recent years and it mentally is a lot to take in as well. With Metro problems and busy schedules, I hope things run earlier and tighter. Velvet Lounge has improved things greatly in recent years and the Black Cat has moved things up just enough to make it better. I think things are generally better, but some nights are still rather unpredictable.

Chris O. said...

How about the Bats, the Blasters, the Buzzcocks, maybe the B-52s, Bombino for a bit of world music...