Remember Nada Surf? A staple of my adolescence, their first single in the mid-90s was the teenage rock anthem "Popular" - a blend of witty spoken word and hard rock guitar riffs that exploded through my speakers for well over a year.
Well contrary to popular belief, Nada Surf never left. Much like Semisonic, they were a trio that was defined by one song in the 90s but actually held quite a substantial catalog of quality songs. Unlike Semisonic, Nada Surf has continued to put out new music, including their new album Lucky, which is currently in the running for my album of the year.
I was fortunate enough to catch Nada Surf here in NYC at a recent show that they co-headlined with good friends Superdrag. While Superdrag lived up to their live show reputation (and graciously played "Sucked Out"), Nada Surf blew the night open. They played everything I could have asked for except "Imaginary Friends." However, as a special treat, they played "Popular" which they do not play very often. Matthew Caws prefaced the song by explaining that "contrary to popular opinion, we don't hate playing this song." This was news to me and my friends since we had heard for years that they didn't play it live anymore because they were sick of it. Instead, they played an inspired performance much to the delight of the enthusiastic crowd.
After rolling through favorites such as "Happy Kid," "What Is Your Secret?", and "Killian's Red," Caws asked the audience to get into a Motown feel for "Inside of Love." After a quick demonstration, everyone in the crowd was stepping right and left with the beat while clapping over our heads. It was a beautiful moment and a highlight of the night.
One surprise on the night was the addition of Calexico member, Martin Wenk on keyboard, synthesizer, and horns. He was amazing and especially fantastic in the encore.
After playing most of their old favorites and almost everything off Lucky, the band finished off their first set with a great rendition of "See These Bones." As the band strode off the stage, I was already formulating my encore wish list. I knew they would play "Blizzard of '77" and "Blankest Year" but I still wanted to hear "Imaginary Friends." Caws and Co. came back on stage after a short break to explain that they wanted to play 4 songs in 15 minutes so they had to hurry.
Of course, they opened with "Blizzard" but then strategically moved into a well played "Blonde on Blonde." To follow, they played the fan favorite "Always Love" to a great response. And in a classy move, they squeezed in "Blankest Year," much to my own happiness. Wenk was absolutely awesome during this song and added a great horn to this already uptempo tune.
On the whole, the night was absolutely phenomenal. It has been so long since Nada Surf has held much mainstream relevance, but I could feel their resurgence with the 2,000+ fans who packed Terminal 5 to rock out with them.
It's nice to see them getting the recognition they have deserved all along and once again, getting back on top of the indie rock scene.
I've got two songs for you below, one old and one new, but make sure to check out the video captured by a fellow fan from the night. And of course, go buy Lucky. It's got the Lil' D stamp of approval.
Nada Surf -
Nada Surf -
*See These Bones.mp3
"Popular" - Live at Terminal 5, 4/11/08
"Killian's Red" - Live at Terminal 5, 4/11/08
"Blankest Year" - Live at Terminal 5, 4/11/08