Thursday, March 27, 2008

Nada Surf at the Henry Fonda Theater

I remember picking up the first Nada Surf album "High/Low" at a record store after seeing it was produced by Ric Ocasek from the Cars. It was a world of devoid of mp3 blogs and Myspace. My qualifications for purchasing new music were driven by some of the following attributes: if the album art looked cool, if it was produced by someone recognizable and if the band was thanked in the liner notes of another band that I liked.

"Popular" would later land in the buzz bin on MTV and Nada Surf was propelled into the mainstream. I have always kept close tabs on the band and even ordered the import of their second album "The Proximity Effect". Nada Surf recently released "Lucky" which is another fine addition to their catalog. I recommend you hunt down the bonus disc version with four extra tracks which has Juliana Hatfield doing a guest spot on vocals.

Sea Wolf

I last caught up with Sea Wolf at the Belly Up when they played for San Diego's FM 94.9 "About the Music Series". Sea Wolf's album "Leaves In The River" was on such heavy rotation that I had to stop listening to the album so I wouldn't completely get sick of the album. The album has crept back into rotation after seeing their set at the Henry Fonda. Alex Church (Vocals/Guitar) was brimming with confidence as he strummed his Martin acoustic guitar. Sea Wolf has continued to tour incessantly and this has paid big dividends as this was a extremely strong set. "The Cold, The Dark, & The Silence" is one of my favorite songs in the Sea Wolf catalog and sounded sharp as Alex plucked out the riff on his guitar. The Henry Fonda theater was whisper quiet as Sea Wolf tip toed through "Black Leaf Falls" with its delicate piano notes accompanying Alex's voice. "The Rose Captain" was cello heavy as April Guthrie gently sawed her cello. "Song For The Dead" has morphed into a fast paced acoustic rocker that had Scott McPherson (Drums) banging away on the drums. "You're A Wolf" elicited the most cheers from the crowd and I saw a few people frantically opening their phones to record the song or call their friends to have them listen. I thought "You're A Wolf" would close out the set but Sea Wolf left the crowd with the song "Black Dirt" as the audience was extremely warmed up for Nada Surf.

Nada Surf

When the curtain lifted, a series of reflective mirrors and an energetic Nada Surf where playing the notes to "Hi-Speed Soul". I should also mention that the song is the inspiration for Hi-Speed Soul Records based in San Diego that has re-released the Nada Surf EP "Karmic" as well as Adam Franklin's solo album "Bolts of Melody".

"Happy Kid" had a good majority of the female fans on the rail singing along as their eyes were glued to Matthew Caws (Guitars/Vocals) who was decked out in a top hat. The sound was dialed in at the Henry Fonda as Matthew got the crowd to sing along during "Weightless". "Killian's Red" imposed silence over the crowd as Matthew feverishly plucked out the ringing notes. "I Like What You Say" is one of the many examples of how Nada Surf can take a few simple chords and make them sound fresh and new with their infusion of harmonies. "Inside of Love" had Matthew place a capo on the second fret of his Gibson Les Paul as all the couples in the room swayed along.

I remember reading somewhere that Nada Surf referred to "Popular" as a golden ball and chain which I thought was funny as well as being appropriate. It is still nice to hear the song as the tempo is accelerated to possibly make the song end sooner or give it a more rocking vibe. I would like to think they opted for the rock vibe. Matthew was switching between a custom black Gibson Les Paul and a gold top Gibson Les Paul.

"Ice On The Wing" and "Are You Lightning" sounded excellent live and fit nicely into the Nada Surf catalog. I was floored by their version of "Stalemate" as it is one of my favorite songs from the first album. It got a little crazier when they morphed the song into Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart". I was completely sold at this point. Lisa from Sea Wolf came out for some assistance on the accordion during "Blonde On Blonde". Nada Surf knows how end a show as they closed out the night with "Always Love" and the party inciting bash of "Blankest Year". I had heard reports that a bunch of people made it on the stage at the show in San Diego but the Henry Fonda security staff wasn't having it. Nada Surf is wrapping up their tour in the States before heading out for a European tour but I hope they swing back for a winter tour.

Nada Surf Setlist at the Henry Fonda Theater (3/19/08)
"Hi-Speed Soul"
"Happy Kid"
"Whose Authority"
"What is your Secret"
"Killian’s Red"
"I Like What You Say"
"Inside of Love"
"Fruit Fly"
"80 Windows"
"Ice on the Wing"
"Are You Lightning"
"Do It Again"
"Beautiful Beat"
"See These Bones"
"Blizzard of ‘77"
"Stalemate/Love Will Tear Us Apart"
"Blonde on Blonde"
"Always Love"
"Blankest Year"

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