MINI RECAP: Surf City = Biff! Real Estate = Bang! Woods = Pow! Overall score: A.
I arrived just as Surf City was starting up. Walking into a room filled with the divine sounds of some of my absolute favorite New Zealanders was a welcome thing indeed. I’m so thrilled to have finally seen them live, let me tell you (especially as this was their last US show for a while and because I’ve wanted to see them for months on end now). Their cheeky, pleasantly fuzzy, jangly noise sounded great in person, and I was so captivated I couldn’t take my eyes off of them. Their (far too) brief set was effervescent and fantastic, and judging by the content of the set their new record is gonna be killer, and entirely in keeping with the strong sound they’ve already honed. I officially love this band to bits.
Real Estate was up next, and though they were the band I knew the least about, they too proved rather enjoyable to behold. The crowd was absolutely heaving for their set, with most of the sell out crowd turning up just in time for band number 2. Once I got over the initial shock of the Real Estate singer looking and acting a whole lot like an ex-boyfriend, I was ready to enjoy their set. And there was a lot to enjoy, starting even before they strummed a note. Any band that asks for a lotta reverb from the soundboard is fabulous in my book, not to mention their in-set encouragement of rowdiness. I really dug their rich, dreamy, dappled golden sound, mixing in a little of everything to create a lovely and appealing blend of beachside-cityscape-highway folk rock. Perhaps it’s not the most likely music to incite rowdy riots (ok, for the sake of puns, perhaps a sorta quiet riot), but it was damned fine music all the same. The crowd loved them, and who am I to argue?
It must be said, Woods kinda threw me for a little bit of a loop. Right off the bat, they went all rock on me. There was more feedback, more reverb, more drone, and more sharp edges than I ever expected out of them. But I’ll let you in on a little secret, friends, it was sensational. At times I found myself wanting to cut some serious rug, and judging by the movement on the floor I wasn’t the only one with such urges. For example, “To Clean” live was such a kicky little number, still retaining that sorta rustic sound from the Songs of Shame record but with a bit more bite, just as with most of their set. That unique, slightly off-kilter, almost falsetto was offset wonderfully by the big rock sound they had up their sleeve, balancing fragility with a kind of “we will rock your face off” mentality. Their extended instrumentals were especially intense (and loud), driving and crashing and wreaking beautiful havoc on my eardrums. All of this means that Woods is even better live than I had anticipated. See them, hear them, love them. End of story.
What a night, friends. What a night. A great bill from top to bottom, and all three are bands you should give serious consideration to. I’m beginning to feel just a wee bit spoiled here, because this was yet another hell of a show.
mp3: Dickshaker’s Union (Surf City from the Surf City EP)
mp3: Beach Comber (Real Estate from Real Estate)
mp3: To Clean (Woods from Songs of Shame)