Concert Review: Surfer Blood, the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, and Hooray for Earth at Grand Central

TPOBPAH's Peggy Wang-East joins Surfer Blood onstage.
TPOBPAH's Peggy Wang-East joins Surfer Blood onstage.
Photo by Steve Rullman

Poplife Anniversary Party

With Surfer Blood, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, and Hooray for

Earth

Grand Central, Miami

Upcoming Events

Saturday, June 12, 2010

To be fair, most of the details of this concert worth noting -- from hipster couture to Ronettes covers -- are over at Crossfade, courtesy of Christine Borges' review of the show. The free parking lot across the street from Grand Central featuring a golf cart limo was pretty funny. Because I was a first-time attendee, the sizable, posh warehouse of a venue itself deserves a few observations. Aside from the ridiculous drama that occurred behind the scenes involving Surfer Blood reportedly not getting paid for the performance and a Twitter battle between the band and Poplife detailed here, the space has a couple of huge advantages over most other South Florida live music spots.

Namely, the sound quality at Grand Central is impressively clear whether you're near the stage, at the bars, or even using the restrooms. Past experiences seeing the Pains of Being Pure at Heart live led this listener to believe that all of the guitar hooks, precise bass, and sweet Morrissey-influenced melodies would always be engulfed in heavy distortion. Not coming out of these speakers. Vocalist Kip Berman's singing was still a tad low in the mix, but an audience member nearby remarked "this sounds exactly like their recordings" without looking too angry about it. After the show, bassist Alex Naidus confirmed that a new album will likely be released next year. The just-released Say No to Love EP will hold us over in the meantime.

The luminous LED backdrop behind the stage provided for some sweet color saturation during TPOBPAH's set, but the venue's lighting particularly suited Surfer Blood's ever-improving stage theatrics -- led by J.P. Pitts in a sweet pair of cutoffs. "Swim (To Reach the End)" felt like an assault with the stage flashing like a crime scene and drummer T.J. Schwarz's tight kick-pedaling turning every change into a rumble. After hearing guitarist Thomas Fekete's Weird Wives project, also featuring Surfer Blood percussionist Marcos Marchesani and bassist Brian Black, it's hard not to project a slightly harder-rocking version of this band -- pushing tempos and making sure that "Take It Easy" does nothing of the sort.

It's too bad that Surfer Blood will reportedly never play there again, because they seemed to really hit their stride. Lit's "My Own Worst Enemy" probably gets butchered every night at a karaoke bar somewhere in South Florida, but Surfer Blood and friends made it look a lot easier to play than any of their own material. As a set closer, the song effectively got the masses screaming along and those who weren't sticking around to dance ready to spill back out into the night.


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