Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Nada Surf. September 5, 2008. The Troubadour.

Having found fame with a bit of mockery like “Popular” at the height of the mid-‘90s alternative phase, it would have been difficult to imagine a 41-year old Matthew Caws leading a packed room of fans half his age in praise of love. But it happened at the Troubadour. And, wow, Caws' voice hasn't aged a bit.

Bass player Daniel Lorca was out with an injury, so Jose Galvez (Ozma) and Gram Lebron (Rogue Wave) filled in on bass and keyboards, respectively. Drummer Ira Elliot played with hokey but magnificent light-up drumsticks – once, anyway – and Caws invited us to cheer for rainy days (an incredibly lovely “Blonde on Blonde”) and join in on all sorts of “aaaaahhh” action (“Weightless”).

But the best part of the show was the privilege of hovering above, on the venue’s balcony, as the entire floor moved from side to side in a perfect half-circle. With all side-stepping like a couple hundred doo-wop singers – you know, because Nada Surf are soulful, or something – it was actually bizarrely beautiful to watch these otherwise mellow fans reveal a collectively carefree attitude. A lack of “Popular” in this set, which went on for nearly two hours, only assisted in making smiling hippies of us.

A funny thing about this show, though – getting a good look at Caws' face, and hearing a voice that hasn't changed since his 20s, when Nada Surf first got famous, was a bit surreal. It really sank in how much time has passed since the mid-'90s, and that the bands I've grown up with are aging into their forties just as I'm no longer in junior high. Aging is scary. Watching famous people age is even scarier because they serve as visual proof that so much time has passed. While I first got into Nada Surf around twelve years ago, it wasn't until watching them on stage (and really, looking up their birthdates online) that that frame of time rang true. Mortality is frightening, isn't it? Awkward tangents aside, Nada Surf – as men in their forties – play hosts to a smashing time.

(The Watson Twins opened. They were the musical equivalent of The Delicious Dish.)

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