Nada Surf, Other Lives, The Jealous Girlfriends
November 21, 2008
Better than: Sitting in a jail like the singer of Delta Groove
First off, it was damn cold waiting in line out front of Hailey's last night. Seems the "doors open at nine o'clock" line from the club's website was a bit off the mark as the line snaked around the block and it was past ten before I made my way into Hailey's.
Secondly, San Diego's Delta Spirit, who was supposed to be the middle band of this triple bill, abruptly canceled due to the bass player being arrested for possession of prescription medication. The band's myspace page said Jon Jameson was in a jail somewhere in our state and that the other members were waiting for his release. There were several people in line (including Jayson Hamilton, guitarist for The Cut Off) who were severely disappointed that Delta Groove was going to be a no show.
Anyhow, after finally entering the building, I discovered that I had missed half of The Jealous Girlfriends' set. Normally, I'm not too worried about missing any part of the opening band's performance, but not this time. Led by the attractive and dynamic Holly Miranda, this Brooklyn four piece put on an impressive display of edgy alt rock. Part Sonic Youth (when Kim Gordon sings) and part Patti Smith, The Jealous Girlfriends is definitely a band worthy of further investigation.
Oklahoma's Other Lives filled the spot abdicated by Delta Groove. Featuring a cellist and a violinist, the band was heady, but a bit self-absorbed. Led singer Jesse Tabish obviously fancies himself a poet, but many of his best lines, like the music of the band itself, came off as affectedly urgent.
Around midnight (God, how I wish this show would have been at The Granada), Nada Surf finally hit the stage. As great as Matthew Caws (guitar, vocals), Daniel Lorca (bass, vocals) and Ira Elliot (drums, vocals) were, the lateness of the hour certainly took its toll on this reviewer. About midway through the 25 song (!!) set, I began dreading (and yearning for) the hour-long ride home.
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But Nada Surf made the early morning hours very special, much to the delight of the capacity crowd. Each song, new or old, became a chance for a group sing-a-long. "Yes, we'll play that," said Caws, adjusting the set list several times throughout the show. Each cut was a perfect pop nugget, a well-constructed paean to professionalism and the power of a catchy chorus.
Of course, Nada Surf played "Popular," but the hit from the late 90's might have been the least affecting cut of them all, certainly failing to engage the crowd as much as newer songs, such as "Blonde on Blonde" and "Weightless."
There were several transcendent moments, such as how quiet and respectful the crowd got for a quieter number like "Fruit Fly." The bond between artist and audience was absolutely thick as the lengthy evening proved to be more like a reunion between long lost best friends.
Here's the set list, for those who care for such things. Special thanks to Ben Gastright for logging this on his cell phone.
· Hi-Speed Soul
· Happy Kid
· Whose Authority
· I Like What You Say
· Killian's Red
· Fruit Fly
· Your Legs Grow
· Here Goes Something
· Inside Of Love
· Beautiful Beat
· Ice On The Wing
· See These Bones
· Treading Water
· The Fox
· Zen Brain
· Blizzard Of '77
· Neither Heaven Nor Space
· Blonde On Blonde
· Do It Again
· Always Love
· Blankest Year
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Personal Bias: Nada Surf play pop music the old fashioned way: have a decent melody and a tuneful singer and then just don't fuck things up. No gimmicks, no 100 members crowding the stage, no costume changes. Bassist Daniel Lorca's nappy dreadlocks were about the only thing that might be considered a stage prop.
Random Note: The diverse Denton crowd was quite remarkable in many ways. Not only were they courteous to all three bands, there were no pushing or drunken fisticuffs despite the close quarters. Perhaps Dallas audiences could learn a thing or two from our polite cousins to the North.
By the way: I caught a ride to this show with an ex-employee of a CD store that will remain nameless. He and his cute wife were kind enough to put up with my critical musings heading north on I-35. Luckily, I saved them from further pain by falling asleep on the way home. --Darryl Smyers