It’s Friday night and the Casbah is sold out. I know this because there is a hand-written sign on the wall outside the venue reading “SOLD OUT”.
The dimly lit venue quickly fills as local band Barbarian kicks off the show. The six-piece is dressed like men in black (a la Johnny Cash, not Will Smith) with a bright, hand drawn, red-lit sign screaming BARBARIAN in the backdrop. Starting mellow, the energy quickly builds, brought on by an array of percussion instruments like bongos and tambourines (that also doubled as crowns). My favorite was their “Song of Love and Hate”. I have a good feeling that this band will go far.
Next up was Talk in Tongues, a five piece hailing from Los Angeles, who all rocked the same aesthetic: black pointy boots and wild, black hair. The lead singer looked like a combination of Adam Sandler, Woody Allen and Billie Joe Armstrong’s son Joey. They played some mellow, moody pysch rock that I probably would have enjoyed more under different circumstances. It lagged, but had the potential to be bigger and ballsier.
Finally up, Surfer Blood. The last time I saw them was in 2010 at Porter’s Pub and it was INSANE: a bunch of drunken college kids raging in a sweaty, crowd surfing pit of pure bliss.
But this show was definitely not that. They started off with the slower, yet popular “Floating Vibes” and continued to play old favorites off their 2010 debut Astro Coast and 2013’s Pythons. The Florida-natives seemed genuinely happiest to share new songs off their upcoming album 1,000 Palms.
The show rolled on, with the crowd popping along, but something was lacking. I might be projecting (since I’m getting older) but it seemed Surfer Blood has definitely gotten older. Older in the way that it’s less fun to set things on fire in the street and more fun to own a reliable car, like a Kia. They seemed more at peace, more friendly, but less energetic. One thing they definitely seemed to have been working on is their stage banter and interacting with the crowd.
“What’s the new song called, JP?” asked Chris, the current touring guitarist.
“Thanks for asking, Chris!” JP shot back.
Lead singer JP even got into the crowd during “Take It Easy” and serenaded the fans. They also played the San Diego pride card a few times, to everyone’s delight. The newbie guitarist exclaimed (while wearing a California Raisin shirt, mind you), “I’ve never been to California before! Today I had a burrito with French fries in it from Luca Libre. 4,000 Yelp reviews can’t be wrong!”
All and all, they sounded great and the new songs were awesome. But that bratty, punk attitude seems to be long gone. Luckily, there was a large breasted, drunken girl in the front row, whipping her hair around faster than most strippers and proudly holding up her “metal fingers”, so all’s not lost.
Photos By: Brian Fontaine / Arlene Ibarra
Review By: Amanda Martinek