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October 15, 2007 | by  | in Music |
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Live Review: Surf City with Holiday with Friends

One of the toughest things for a band to do is to play to a poor turnout. No matter how enthusiastic the few fans that show up are, it always seems to be a struggle for those onstage to stay committed to the gig.

Often this can be the real measure of a group – if they can perform well in front of only half a dozen people, there’s not much else that can phase them.

Last Thursday’s Surf City show, the first on their ‘Reggae’ tour, drew only a handful of punters to Bodega, but it’s fair to say the rain, rather than the quality of the bands, was the major discouraging factor here.

Openers Holiday with Friends played a great set, deftly illustrating the talents that have seen these guys become Wellington scene mainstays in the last couple of years. Despite the lacklustre audience response, they still belted out their infectious blend of dance-pop with precision and skill. Seeing them perform to an empty dance floor was fairly surreal, given the typical presence of the indie dance crowd at their shows.

Surf City seemed to be pretty bummed by the lack of audience. As a result (and quite possibly as a result of band drunkenness), they played a fairly erratic and unfocused set, meandering from song to song without much direction. Despite this, there were still occasional moments of the gleaming pop warmth that saturates their recently self-titled E.P. In particular, set opener ‘Free the City’ was a delight, stretched out to at least twice its recorded length and searing in its intensity and immediacy. Another high point was ‘Dickshakers Union’, a reverb-drenched rhythmic workout that gave the band the opportunity to crank their pedals.

However, there definitely seemed to be something holding the band back. For one thing, the drummer seemed to be struggling to maintain the swift pace of their songs whilst not pushing his bass drum away from himself, and the vocalist seemed fairly uninterested, occasionally forgetting lyrics. At one point, he even called the band to a stop part way through a song, insisting that they play it later.

Despite this occasionally faltering performance, Surf City were still a treat to see. Their blend of furious guitar-pop is complex and engaging, and was a visible delight to the fairly small crowd present. Hopefully their next show in Wellington isn’t scheduled for a miserably wet night.

Thursday 4th October, Bodega

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