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Nada Surf @ Horseshoe Tavern

Nada Surf
Nada Surf @ Horseshoe Tavern

. : : November 16th, 2015 : : .

I was afraid I was growing out of Nada Surf.

It was a weird feeling; their mid-career albums Let Go, The Weight Is A Gift, and (to a slightly lesser degree) Lucky were seminal albums for my twenties.

In fact, it was a chance, last minute decision to accompany my buddy to their show promoting Let Go that can be credited with my taping bug. I knew little more than the one hit wonder smash Popular from their debut album High/Low some seven-years earlier, but I was bored with nothing else to do, wanted some company and excitement, and invited myself along.

He had been taping shows he’d been going to for a while, but this was the first time I’d really paid attention to what he was doing and tried to help whenever I could. Without a dollar to my name, I’d had to borrow $20 for the cover fee. When all three bands performing that night (Sondre Lerche and The Long Winters opened) blew me away and I hadn’t any money left over to buy their albums, the recordings of the band’s sets received frequent, almost exclusive rotation in their stead.

Alas, as is the way of rock n’ roll bands for decades untold, as the band ages their music loses the energy — the piss and vinegar — that really fuels the excitement. Tempos slow, distortion clears, lyrics become more general and worldly. It’s the natural order of things. I found myself measuring engagement with the new material in the form of songs instead of albums, and even having to put in effort to do that.

I’ve written about how I was tempted to skip their 2012 show at The Opera House, but got roped in by a pair of tickets won in a contest and a free acoustic set prior to the show at the local record store. This go around, I was roped in by it being back at the site of that first show that had won me over, The Horseshoe Tavern. It is much smaller than The Opera House, and the sound is usually light years better — and I ended up really liking their previous set despite my early misgivings. Plus, it was a short three-show leg to trial run new songs from an album that was at the plant being pressed, but wouldn’t see the light of day for another four months. Couldn’t say I wasn’t curious, lured by the exclusivity of the engagement.

Listening back to the recording, I can start to remember why it didn’t make the original version of the blog. Although the band was as solid as ever — a great feat given the casual nature of the tour — the set list is uneven with many of the as-of-yet unheard songs paired with songs from the previous, also uneven album, The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy. There were technical issues throughout, including microphone feedback, something on stage burning, and a loose microphone connection in my recorder for the final song of the night, Blankest Year. Also, towards the end of the night, a trio of drunken morons pushed their way up front and setup camp right next to me, and chant and chatter throughout the remainder of the show.

But, there was also some real highlights, including Bacardi, which hadn’t been played before this string of shows in nine years and hasn’t been played since, and Lucky deep cut The FoxPopular had rarely dragged been out of retirement at that point, and wasn’t played elsewhere on this short tour. Standard set staples like Happy Kid, What Is Your Secret and Weightless are also consistent high points.

The recording itself was made a little on the loud side, so check the output on your speakers before you blow out a window. But, generally, the instruments and vocals come through clearly and fairly evenly.

This is a decent, flawed tape to match a decent, flawed performance — but both can be forgiven and overlooked easily by fans of the band. This goes doubly for those who’ve managed to connect with the later material.

And me? Like a battered pair of shoes you couldn’t bring yourself to throw away, there’s a certain comfort to putting on something you feel like you otherwise may have outgrown and find that, although perhaps a bit tighter, still mostly fits.

01. Whose Authority
02. Blizzard of 77
03. [banter]
04. Weightless
05. Clear Eye Clouded Mind
06. [banter]
07. Animal
08. Killian’s Red
09. [banter]
10. Happy Kid
11. [banter]
12. Bacardi
13. I Like What You Say [abandoned]
14. I Like What You Say
15. Believe You’re Mine
16. The Fox
17. What Is Your Secret?
18. Cold To See Clear
19. When I Was Young
20. [banter]
21. Teenage Dreams
22. [banter]
23. Jules and Jim
24. Friend Hospital
25. [banter]
26. See These Bones
27. [encore]
28. [banter]
29. Popular
30. [banter]
31. Always Love
32. [banter]
33. Blankest Year

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Cold To See Clear [MP3 sample]


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