If you weren’t able to make it out to Northampton’s Iron Horse Music Hall on Feb. 26, then you certainly missed out on an unforgettable evening. Surfer Blood, the indie rock band from Florida known for their surf rock tone, brought the house down with a set pulling from the band’s two LPs, Astro Coast and Pythons, as well as their EP, Tarot Classics.
The evening began with a solid performance by Lake Worth, Florida-based indie rock band Wake Up. Their set, consisting of roughly 10 songs, featured tracks from their upcoming debut EP, Forever Home, which is slated for release on Mar. 11. While their stage presence left a bit to be desired, they more than made up for it with standout songs like “Asleep for Days” and “Bad Days.” The energy, although low at the beginning, did increase throughout their set, with lead singer Evan Mui (vocals and guitar) even breaking a string at one point, while Bryan Adams (drums), Bobby Yapkowitz (vocals and guitar), and Austen Bemis (bass) rounded out the band’s addictive garage rock sound.
Following Wake Up was Brooklyn, New York-based indie rock band Fort Lean. The band performed a set consisting of tracks from their self-titled EP, Fort Lean, and their most recent release, Change Your Name. Fort Lean had dynamic and vibrant energy throughout, with Keenan Mitchel (vocals and guitar) delivering lively washed out vocals. Sam Ubl (drums), Zach Fried (guitar), Jake Aron (bass), and Will Runge (keyboard, guitar) rounded out the psych-pop/rock sound of the band, with each member of this five-piece group keeping the energy fast paced and lighthearted. My favorite track, “Dreams (Never Come True),” showcased Mitchel’s vocals the best, and saw Fried holding the weight of the song on his shoulders as he provided the uncomplicated and flawless guitar riffs that held the track together. With two EPs under their belt and live shows quickly garnering them attention, this band promises to continue to deliver a steady stream of solid indie rock tunes with the release their debut LP in the near future.
Finally, it was Surfer Blood’s turn to take the stage, and they delivered a seamless performance consisting of fan-favorite songs “Floating Vibes” and “Weird Shapes.” The crowd, noticeably larger and livelier than earlier in the evening, was on their feet and dancing throughout the roughly 12-song set, while the group kept the energy high with little to no break between songs.
One notable moment was when frontman John Paul Pitts (vocals and guitar), during the band’s performance of “Take It Easy,” jumped off the stage, climbed the railings, and waded through the crowd. After a few embraces, a couple of one-on-one serenades, and a swig of one woman’s beer, Pitts returned to the stage to finish off a truly memorable performance.
Thomas Fekete (guitar), Kevin Williams, (bass), and Tyler Schwarz (drums) rounded out the band’s grungy washed-out surf-rock sound and brought to life popular songs like “Demon Dance” with a lively spin. After they played their last song of the set, Surfer Blood soon returned to the stage to deliver two encore performances. Up first was “Gravity,” but the more notable of the two was the penultimate song, “Anchorage.” Venturing out into the crowd once more, this time with guitar in hand, Pitts and crew kept it loud and fast right until the end.
-Chloe Doyle, WMUA 91.1