February 23 2012
Constellation Room at the Observatory
"That last one was my second favorite song," John Paul Pitts, lead singer and guitarist for Surfer Blood, announced after playing the song "Twin Peaks" during their set at the Observatory's Constellation Room last night.
Then, after a pause: "This next one is my favorite." Twenty seconds later, as the band galloped their way through "Take It Easy," there was a dance pit forming front and center in the crowd, Pitts in the middle of it.
He emerged from the crowd with his shirt yanked open, only back on stage for barely a moment before guitarist Thomas Fekete and a guest guitarist jumped, synchronized, into the crowd. To call it stage diving might be a misnomer, they more rolled backward -- guitars and all -- into the rolling sea of hands. They emerged as Pitts had, disheveled, their instruments unplugged and quiet. But the band recovered quickly to finish the song.
"I'm usually so demure on stage," Pitts said as he buttoned his shirt back up and the guest guitarist walked off the stage holding a pair of panties that had been thrown at the band.
Surfer Blood's style of playing follows their name -- a reckless bravado, playful grins that erupt into carefree songs at the hands of Pitts and his gang. The crowd replied raucously, screaming, jumping and dancing on the seats in the back of the Constellation Room.
Favorites off of 2010's Astro Coast like "Floating Vibes" and "Take It Easy" were in attendance on the setlist, as well as last year's EP Tarot Classics, "Miranda" and "Voyager Reprise."
Much of the set list last night consisted of new songs, though, something that Pitts mock-apologized for.
"Sorry we're throwing a lot of new songs at you," Pitts said with a smirk attached to his face. "We're impatient."
These new songs, assumedly on Surfer Blood's yet-unnamed sophomore LP, were pointed out by Pitts several times during their set, saying how many new ones they were playing between every few of Surfer Blood's relatively short songs.
Pitts imparted his charisma well, despite all of the apologies and pointing out new material. At one point, he bowed to the audience before returning to the stage. He seemed to truly enjoy what the packed Constellation room had to offer; when not stage diving, he'd stand up and address the audience not as a crowd, but as a new friend. (Upon some guy in the audience calling him hot, Pitts turned aorund and said "Thank you! I don't get that a lot... I like your jacket.")
At the last song of the encore, the night ended appropriately -- in a crowd. But the giant dance mob that formed wasn't on the floor; in a moment of carefree resilience, Pitts and the rest of Surfer Blood invited one person on stage, followed by another and another, until the band disappeared in a mass of dancing, climbing bodies.
Critic's Bias: I once stared at the cover for Astro Coast for 20 minutes, amazed and horrified at the shark on it.
The Crowd: A good assortment of surfers, stoners and kids wearing converse.
Overheard in the Crowd:
"Let's get weird."
"She was like, 'Ew.' And I was like, 'What, you've never seen yak before?' Yeah, we started drinking at like 4 PM."
"They all just look like total dudes.
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Random Notebook Dump:
The guy next to me in the crowd said that I looked familiar. I didn't know him, but the weird thing is that he looked familiar too. Inception?
"St. Patrick's Day"
"Take it Easy"
"Miami New Times"