Concert Review: Propaganda's Benefit For Haiti, January 18

Photo by Ian Witlen
Surfer Blood
Click here to view photo from this show.

Surfer Blood, Invisible Music (John Ralston), Sweet Bronco, Kill Now?! 
Propaganda, Lake Worth
Monday, January 18, 2010 

Better Than: Pat Robertson  

The Review:

Beauty often emerges from tragedy, and last night's Benefit for Haiti show at Propaganda was like a little flower growing from the bloody rubble. Some of South Florida's best bands stepped up for the cause and delivered stellar performances to a packed house. 

I walked in to find the electrified version of Sweet Bronco rocking the room. The trio was in fine form and well received by the attentive crowd. Toward the end of the set, frontman Chris Horgan introduced a song that is normally called "Out for Blood," tweaked for the occasion into "Out for Surfer Blood."

Truly, the place was buzzing with excitement for those homegrown riders of the fame wave. And they didn't disappoint. Surfer Blood closed out the night with a tight, squeaky-clean set that had girls screaming, dudes pumping their fists, and some androgynous hipsters singing along to the band's blog hit "Swim (To Reach the End)." The set might have been a bit too clean and pretty, actually, if it weren't for drummer Animal (Marcos Marchesani) going nuts on the floor tom. Oh, and lead man J.P. Pitts' fly was down for the whole show, so that was pretty edgy too. 

Though Surfer Blood lived up to the hype, the standout performance of the evening happened before they hit the stage. Invisible Music is the new project of South Florida veteran musician John Ralston. It's an eight-piece Americana orchestra from heaven. At any given time onstage there were up to three guitars, a lap steel, a glockenspiel, a bass, a violin, drums, keys, and lovely voices all gliding and swirling together like a flock of angels. All these players managed to contribute without ever tripping on each other or becoming messy. I'd say that the band blew me away, but it felt much more like an embrace. It was big-heart music. 

Before leaving the stage, Ralston expressed his gratitude for everyone who made it possible for he and his band to help out in this way. That sentiment was undoubtedly shared by all involved. The music, the crowd, and the event as a whole were full of positive spirit. And by the looks of the huge charity check I saw as I was walking out of the venue, it seems as though some tangible love will make it down to the island as a result.  

Critic's Notebook: 

Personal Bias: My Pat Robertson joke may have been a deal with the devil. I'm not sure.

Random Detail: "Swim (To Reach the End)" has been echoing through my skull for hours. 

By The Way: In about two weeks Surfer Blood is heading overseas to play a string of U.K dates. 

-- Travis Newbill

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