Philadelphia, PA • April 14, 2008
One of the few songs I can vaguely recall from my high school years is Nada Surf’s “Popular.” Off their 1996 release, High/Low, the song was the sardonic tale of the popular kids that you either experienced through movies or in reality. With each new album since the release of their prior album, their music style matured into the one most currently featured on their 2008 release, Lucky.
Nada Surf came to town and easily sold out the Trocadero. The crowd was relatively older — this wasn’t your usual teenage-driven audience — which was a bit refreshing. The only opening act on the bill was Illinois, a group of Bucks County natives who have made quite the name for themselves. Having heard many great comments about their performances, I was anxious to catch their show. They had even had one of their songs featured on the show, Weeds, which is great exposure for a local unsigned band. For the next 45 minutes, the band played on to the delight of the crowd. They had a decent stage energy and some catchy tracks, but overall, they just didn’t catch my attention. The mix of banjo and piano-filled tracks just didn’t have the punch I was expecting. However, I was highly outnumbered by the rest of the audience, and it was great to see how the local band interacted with the crowd, especially their family and friends who were there.
About a half hour later, the Brooklyn headliners came onstage, greeted with a warm welcome from the audience. Breaking into songs from the several CDs and EPs that have spanned their 12-year career, the band was playing a decent mix, catering to the tastes of newer and older fans. While none of my favorites were played by the time I left two hours later, it was nice to hear songs that seemed familiar. Yet, their performance wasn’t as energetic or raw as I would have imagined; it was much more polished and generic. After about an hour and a half in, the band realized that they hadn’t planned as long a set list as they needed to for the time allotted and began to play fan requests. After a while, I headed out with my expectations slightly unfulfilled. I guess that’s what happens — sounds and bands mature — as do our own individual tastes. While I still highly enjoy their sound, I have started to look at Nada Surf and their music in a new light.
Nada Surf: www.nadasurf.com