100 Shows of 2010 - #11: Nada Surf @ 9:30 Club, 4/2/10

There’s a small handful of bands that I look to for consistency, bands I trust for their awesome reliability, their dependable radness. They’re like the Old Faithfuls of music, the ones that never ever ever let you down. The ones that rule the school any day of the week, and like cockroaches might just outlive us all. Nada Surf belongs in this bunch, and they proved once more that when it comes to throwing a killer live show, they’re hard to beat.

MINI RECAP: Nada Surf = Kings Among Men! Overall score: A.

I was pleased to see that the 9:30 Club was suitably full for the show, so much so that it felt a little steamy up in the balcony. But what’s a few beads of sweat among Nada Surf-loving folks? When the supplemented trio (along with a couple of friends) took the stage it was to rapturous cheers from the packed house. I could see their grins from the tip of the club, as they enthusiastically proclaimed, “Awesome” and, “It’s nice to be back.”

Hours of top-notch music ensued from those indie stalwarts, as you might expect. They pulled from every corner of their catalog, mixing in covers from their new record with old favorites. “Hyperspace,” one such oldie, off the oft-overlooked album The Proximity Effect, was a welcome inclusion into the set, and like most of the more uptempo songs was good and poundingly loud. The inclusion of the extra guitar and keys made the sound even bigger, meaning it felt like you were being totally wrapped in their glorious noise. I inwardly squealed like a little schoolgirl anytime the band launched into a song from my favorite Nada Surf record, Let Go. It’s such a classic album, and the songs therein are so stunning and intricately constructed. “Killian’s Red” is one of those songs, and I will forever be smitten with that dark, stormy bass and the tantalizing guitar, not to mention Matthew Caws’ warm, distinctive voice. I’ll never be talked out of thinking his is one of the finest voices of a musical generation. The band tended to throw in extended jamming at the end of certain songs, adding chunky guitar and very heavy drums on the end of the gorgeous “Killian’s Red.”

“What Is Your Secret?”, from The Weight Is A Gift, immediately followed, and it was during that song that I wrote a note to myself about how Nada Surf live sounds not record perfect but live perfect, which is totally different. We all know that anyone can sound good in a studio, but what sets bands apart is their ability to be amazing live. Not just good, but amazing. And Nada Surf, well, they’re pretty much amazing live. “Can you hear the 90s influence?,” a dude behind me asked his date. I smirked, and the band began to play a breathtaking rendition of “Your Legs Grow,” one of their best ballads. It’s a song that could launch a thousand lighters, as could the painfully lovely “Blonde on Blonde,” which came a little bit later on in the set. Just when I thought it wasn’t possible to love Nada Surf anymore, they went and covered one of my all-time favorite ever songs: Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy The Silence.” Introduced as their “goth-disco song,” it was totally divine. After that it was a solid run from Let Go, “Blizzard of ’77,” “Neither Heaven Nor Space,” Hi-Speed Soul,” and “The Way You Wear Your Head,” and each song was flawless. Which is pretty much the way you could describe the entire set.

I went home a very, very happy girl last Friday night, my friends. If, by some chance you haven’t yet seen Nada Surf live, you really owe it to yourself to amend that situation as soon as you can. There aren’t many bands around that you can count on, but you can definitely count on Nada Surf. I love that band to smithereens, and always will.

mp3: Killian's Red (Nada Surf from Let Go)


  1. I've seen Nada Surf three times live, including the last two shows at 9:30, and they always blow me away. Highlight of the night was hearing Hyperspace, which I've been begging them to play for years. Always Love is always incredible, I Fought the Law was hilarious, Whose Authority? might be their most underrated live song and The Way You Wear Your Head was a great surprise. These guys never cease to amaze. Their shows are always worth your hard-earned money.


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