Despite the abundance of recent California rain, you can still jam to music intended for 90-degree weather. Beach rockers Surfer Blood will take the stage on Tuesday, Jan. 12 at SOhO Music Club in Downtown Santa Barbara at 8 p.m. Complete with opening support from Los Angeles band Cayucas, this all-ages show is sure to cure anyone’s rainy day blues.
Surfer Blood’s origins trace back to West Palm Beach, Florida, where lead singer John Paul Pitts and drummer Tyler Schwarz met in high school. Soon after meeting original guitarist Thomas Fekete and bassist Brian Black at a festival afterparty, they formed Surfer Blood in early 2009. The quartet began recording their first album, Astro Coast, in a University of Florida dorm room and released their debut single “Swim” within months. After playing the CMJ Music Festival in New York, the band was considered a breakout act and continued doing shows on the festival circuit through 2010. In late 2011, their tracks were featured on Pitchfork and NPR. Throughout their relatively short history, Surfer Blood has been quite prolific, with three albums and an EP released in the span of five years.
In what may be Surfer Blood’s proudest moment of their careers so far, indie rock legends the Pixies asked the band to be their opener in 2011. Front man Pitts met the Pixies in a New Zealand airport, and to his surprise, they were already familiar with Surfer Blood’s music. This comes as no shock; the indie rockers’ sound is quite reminiscent of the Pixies’ music during their prime.
Surfer Blood mix their beachy vibes with ’90s charm, citing influences from bands such as Pavement, Bedhead, and Yo La Tengo. Melodic guitars toughened up with punk fuzz and energetic drums are the backbone of their sound. The result is songs that are neatly-structured, power-pop gems with a sunny disposition, perfect for driving, bike riding and the outdoors in general. For the record, none of the members of Surfer Blood actually surf. Even so, their music evokes a gentle push-pull, like waves along the coast.
Over the past year, Surfer Blood has gone through some drastic changes. In early 2015, former guitarist Fekete was diagnosed with a sarcoma, an aggressive and rare form of cancer. His departure followed the announcement of their latest effort, 1000 Palms. His expensive treatments and chemotherapy are still being supported by a crowdfunding page, with donations from fans and strangers alike. A benefit project spearheaded by indie rock titans Yo La Tengo and Guided by Voices also served to help with his medical bills. Additionally, shortly following Fekete’s departure, bassist Kevin Williams left the band to pursue a job outside of the music industry. Despite the major shifts in the band, Surfer Blood is still pressing forward, ready to deliver.
For music that brings the feeling of summer back, Surfer Blood is the band to see. Tickets are still available through the link below.
Zoë has been an Artsweek Editor since the 2016-17 school year and enjoys it much more than she lets on. In her free time, she enjoys reading Pitchfork and drinking chai lattes with almond milk (because, of course).