Surfer Blood Brings Some Warmth to Chilly Hamden

Paul carbonella

On Tuesday Nov. 10, the buzz-garnering indie group Surfer Blood, known for their beach-rock tendencies, brought some warmth to beloved Hamden venue, The Space, which was facing financial troubles earlier this year.

In tow with Fort Lean, a Brooklyn-based quintet, and fellow Floridians, Wake Up, Surfer Blood and friends delivered a night of the compelling, down-tempo guitar rock that has been praised by publications such as Salon and Pitchfork throughout their career. Their new album, 1000 Palms, was released in May.

Wake Up kicked off the show with an enthusiastic performance of “Forever Home,” the title track of their most recent EP. Unfortunately, the band had trouble maintaining that energy throughout their short set, mainly composed of mid-tempo, guitar-based rock, the likes of Pavement or The Jesus and Mary Chain. The band repeatedly missed that sense of good, clean fun, which made their EP special, opting instead for a calmer, more nonchalant mood. Wake Up also managed to squeeze some songs from their upcoming EP, Squiers, which they seemed more enthusiastic about performing.

Next up was Fort Lean, who seemed intent on getting this crowd to “wake up,” energized the room with “Cut to The Chase” from their newest record, Quiet Day. Matching, and sometimes exceeding, Surfer Blood’s acuity for beach-bound rock, the quintet’s songs came off as light and calming, but simultaneously stale. Their self-titled debut was released in 2011, barely missing the window of indie’s beach-punk obsession in the late 2000s. Cuts such as “Sunsick,” while fun, felt too familiar and a lack of enthusiasm in the crowd conveyed this same lack of interest. The world may not need another beach-rock band from Brooklyn for a while, but despite that, Fort Lean had fun performing several songs from Quiet Day and set the mood for their headliner perfectly.

The venue was noticeably packed for the show. This is good news for Hamden’s The Space, which was facing financial troubles earlier in the year due to an unprofitable winter season. Local artists from across the state joined for a series of benefit shows in August. A kickstarter page, “Save the Space,” was successfully able to exceed its goal of $25 thousand in just four months. The Space has maintained its image as a relevant, safe all-ages venue since 2003. “I opened it because there was no true place that was all ages and alcohol-free,” owner Steve Rodgers said in an interview.

It must have pleased Rodgers to hear the concertgoers’ screams as Surfer Blood took the stage. The band was talked about excessively in the blogosphere and has gained significant popularity during its career. Their performance at The Space reinforced and confirmed the venue’s importance in Connecticut. The band flawlessly performed favorites such as “Swim” and “Miranda” along with several excellent cuts from their recent album, which were largely a departure from the style they’ve honed in their previous records. “Grand Inquisitor,” for instance, impressed the crowd with its spacier, punkier, Pixies-ish vibe. Before leaving the venue, Surfer Blood performed an encore of “Prom Song” at one fan’s request. Their set managed to send the audience home with and a small bit of Floridian beach for the long New England winter.