Headlining in support of their third studio album 1000 Palms, a reshuffled Surfer Blood lineup impressed at the Teragram Ballroom with fellow surf-pop rockers Cayucas in support.
Their beach rock sound was welcomed happily on a gloomy Friday night in downtown Los Angeles. Guitarist Thomas Fekete and bassist Kevin Williams are no longer in the band – Fekete battles a rare form of cancer while Williams left the group for a job – but their replacements Mike McCleary and Lindsey Mills proved ample replacements. Mills’ duties as a backup vocalist provided an alternative layer to some of lead man’s John Paul Pitts’ sometimes Rivers Cuomo-type vocals quite nicely.
Playing just north of an hour, the band quickly ran through material from all three of their studio albums, also throwing in a cover of Richie Valens’ “La Bamba” with members of Cayucas during the encore. At some time during the set, Pitts threw some candy to the audience before gifting them with the memorable track “Take It Easy,” which included a trip into the crowd to serenade them.
Though “Demon Dance” (and semi-ripoff of the melody from Weezer’s “The World Has Turned and Left Me Here”) was the song that first made me aware, the latest material has proved to be a nice progression from the more simplistic tunes from their earlier efforts. “I Can’t Explain” was a particularly standout moment.
SoCal favorites Cayucas have never quite been able to blow me away but they are serviceable live performers. Their heady brand of hipster rock is best enjoyed when you can just play an album front to back and sometimes things sound disjointed when they jump around. Zach (guitar) and Ben Yudin (bass) are another brotherly duo that know how to rock.
“High School Lover” was the highlight of Cayucas’ hour-long set, based on how the crowd responded. The venue was pretty solidly filled by the time they took the stage and they held everyone’s attention before making way for the evening’s headliners. They were quite a good complement to Surfer Blood’s sound and the double-bill certainly worked.
Words: Mark E. Ortega
Photography: Danielle Gornbein
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