Friday, May 3, 2013

Show review: Beach Fossils at Subterranean, 5/1/13

By Stuart Ross

photo: John Pena
Brooklyn quartet Beach Fossils brought their energetic live show to a packed Subterranean on Wednesday. A balmy May Day evening.

May I suggest a drink at the Trencherman before a show at Subterranean? And may I suggest the gin and juice drink called "Damn, Son!"?

What’s a good label for Beach Fossils’ music? Lo-fi made more sense a few years ago. Dream pop works, as does anything with reverb + another word, as does the acrophobic “Brooklyn Rooftop.” And since the release of their second full-length LP earlier this year, the more aggressive Clash the Truth, melodic punk has rightfully nudged its way into the argument.

Good news for everyone at the show on Wednesday night: live music releases us from the burdens of genre. Especially when the band we’re seeing has come to please. Dance party is the only genre of a Beach Fossils show.

Frontman and founder Dustin Payseur—whose curly locks are always at that perfect three-days-since-his-last-haircut length—has a sweet and honest voice and demeanor. A few songs in, he admonished those immobile, arms-folded patrons that make up a hefty percentage of fans at indie shows. “I’m glad these guys up here are dancing, but I want everyone dancing,” Dustin said. And after asking whether it was Tuesday or Thursday, and getting confirmation it was indeed Wednesday, he said “I know you guys gotta work tomorrow, but I’m working up here right now.”

Even though the band is winding down their tour, it didn’t show during their high-energy set. The crowd and the band fed off each other through a generous selection of old favorites and tracks from the new record.

A quick word about drummer Tommy Gardner. You know when you’re at a show and you’re like, wow, I’ve gotta get on my toes (if you’re average height like me) and watch the drummer, so I can see what that sound looks like? Gardner is that kind of musician. A huge difference for anyone expecting the stolid kick and snare on 2011’s standout What a Pleasure. My favorite album cover from that year.

The only thing the band didn’t deliver on? A sly promise they would cover a Hoobastank and/or Chumbawamba song.

Maybe they did the next night in Detroit.

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