You’ll ‘never be the same’ after hearing Surf Rock is Dead. This was a sentiment that may have been shared by many after seeing these guys make their Los Angeles debut on Friday night. The Brooklyn based dream-pop duo, Kevin Pariso and Joel Witenberg, merges an 80s post-punk cadence with beautiful, floating-in-reverb vibes on their catalog of jams. For those who need a better portrait to be painted, think a sound that’s akin to artists like My Bloody Valentine from yesteryear and DIIV for the modern scene. Despite comparisons (because you know they’re always there) Surf Rock is Dead, whose members are originally from Chicago and Australia, create a billowy sound capturing beach-y and hazy vibes. However, their longing and desire for something better, something much deeper than just what lies on the surface is their greatest asset in connecting with current and future fans.
After the soulful singer-songwriter Sarah Chernoff performed, Surf Rock is Dead came onto stage at around 9:40. Their performance preceded indie darlings, Shout Out Louds’ headlining set. As for SRiD, their nine-track set was masterfully executed. Kicking the night off with “Never Be The Same,” from 2015’s self-titled EP, the softly colorful cut combines striking guitars and dreamy vocals, parallel to Jackson Phillips’ Day Wave project. One of the best tunes of the night followed, with “Anymore,” off the same EP. The chirpy, nostalgic melodies and shared vocals of the two core members created something quite exceptional for the evening. With lithe guitar leads and a shoegaze-y bassline, SRiD put the audience on a voyage within in their minds to wherever they found necessary to go to at the very moment.
The guys played several cuts from their latest 2017 EP, We Have No Friends? The one the audience really got behind was “In Between.” Clearly a fan-favorite for those supporting them, people in the crowd were gleefully dancing and shaking their heads to the ethereal vibes on display. With tight drums provided by Jack Beal, the swirling rendition was the highlight of the night. The dazzling “As If” was played at about the midway point of the night, exhibiting some mighty fine talents from its members. The layered vocal harmonies along with glittering guitars and a twirling bassline were like a rush of blood to your head. The band’s vibrant structure balances both dream-pop and psych-pop evenly, ultimately creating a wall of sound that’s enthralling yet pacifying.
The band’s set wrapped up quite pleasantly, giving the crowd an idyllic and cozy feeling before Shout Out Louds came out to perform. In the end, SRiD’s performance was impressive, as they switched off vocal duties fluently while still crafting their lush studio resonance effortlessly into a vivid, fun-to-observe live presentation. While hazy, dreamy, psychedelic have become common ways to describe this kind of music, it goes without saying SRiD is breaking the mold. With a couple of EPs and singles, key members Pariso and Witenberg are grinding this thing out in the best way they can. And you know what? The results are striking from any way you look at it.