|Photos by Warren Wills|
Somewhere in the annals of history it will be stated that rock 'n' roll was not just a linear entity, but one that thrived in a cyclical fashion. Yes, trends ebb and flow, yet those that work best continue to be revisited again and again. Last night's jam-packed show in the Entry, featuring power-pop rockers Surfer Blood and rockabilly punk rockers Turbo Fruits, would certify this notion, bringing with them a veritable plethora of sounds, mimicry, and pomp that thoroughly doused the crowd in nostalgia.
The openers for the evening, local psychedelic band Velvet Davenport, started things off with an alternating mix of mellow grooves and short pop tunes. The six-piece played the tightest set of songs I've seen from them yet, and while they were of a slightly different ilk than the following acts, they provided a fun and even-keeled start to an otherwise unpredictable evening.
Immediately following Velvet Davenport were the Turbo Fruits, a three piece from Nashville led by guitarist (and general wildman) Jonas Stein. They turned in the most intense set of the night, shfting constantly between blues based rockabilly, surf rock, '60s R&B melodies and '80s hardcore punk, and the crowd couldn't get enough, with at least one small pit developing near center stage. They informed us that they had just gotten through a 20+ hour van trip from the western reaches of the country, but they certainly didn't let it effect their in-your face bravado. The set started with Jonas completing the majority of his huge beer in dramatic fashion to the crowd's delight, and finished with him literally knocking over another beer which he attempted to save, but ended up spewing into the Entry's miniature rafters and the enthralled onlookers. Their thrilling combination of hard-driving classic sounds and onstage foolery quickly became the night's brightest spot.
By this time, there was a bit of a funk in the air. With that many bodies in that small a space, things began to get warm and sticky. Had I been a recipient of that beer shower, it may have been even more so, yet the youngest of the bands was yet to play and they brought their own unique funk to the stage. The headliner of this evening, Surfer Blood of West Palm Beach, Florida, almost felt tame at first after the thrashing that proceeded them. Strapped with effects peddles, a wide variety of percussion and some poppy hooks, they were certainly able to maintain the flow already set in motion.
One's first impression of the five-piece is that they all appear to be 16 and could have lived down the block from your childhood home. Upon listening to them settle into their gear and opening up their noisemakers, it becomes clear that Surfer Blood isn't quite a surf band, and while they do have a tinge of that '60s sound, they are more reminiscent of Weezer or Vampire Weekend's upbeat rock ballads, West-African percussion breaks, and quixotic lyrics. What was different about them live (other than a lessening of reverb), more than anything else, were the rougher vocals of lead singer J.P. Pitts that seemed exude from him more as shouts and hollers. They, too, had been stuck in a van like Turbo Fruits, but they seemed more worn from it as a result. One of the guitars broke and was twice replaced over the course of two songs, then keyboardist/percussionist Marcos Marchesani had to leave the stage prior to the last song, feeling a bit under the weather. This prompted a caveat from one of the band members, "everything is broken but our spirits."
After seven rousing tunes of gleaming guitar pop, featuring their hit song "Swim" and a satisfying performance of Ray Cummings' favorite tune "Twin Peaks"
this Surfer Blood which had hit the crowd like a tidal wave, quickly ebbed, long enough for the spectators to move wade again toward calmer waters.