Thursday, March 09, 2006

Nada Surf and Rogue Wave, 3.8.06 Webster Hall

by Charlotte Deaver

Webster Hall has good lighting. But other than that, the place is beginning to get to me. We are so spoiled in New York, with places like the Bowery Ballroom, Northsix, and Mercury Lounge, which hold so many fewer indie kids -- oops -- I mean people, that no matter where you are in the club you are guaranteed access to whatever energy and intimacy the band is creating. Not so at Webster, where it's possible to get lost in its maze of stairwells, off-limits VIP balconies, and no-access, under-staffed bars.

Nada Surf played the venue last night for the first time, according to lead singer and songwriter Matthew Caws, who announced that he hadn't actually been in the building for twenty years, when it was still called the Ritz.

Compared to Rogue Wave, the opening act, Nada Surf's songwriting, stage presence, and sheer likability absolutely soar. I like Rogue Wave's recordings, and their songs "Catform" and "Publish My Love" are worthy of repeated listenings, but on stage the four-man band just cried out for some personality, some idiosyncrasy, something to take them out of their mediocre servicability and set them apart from the average white band. (No, not THE Average White Band.) Too bad. I was looking forward to their show.

Nada Surf charged ahead, though, wiping the slate clean with shiny convex mirrors and a single six-string guitar (a crisp Gibson). Often playing only as a trio, the bass player Daniel Lorca and drummer Ira Elliot (who apparently lost his virginity at Webster Hall. Oh my. Perhaps it was also called the Ritz then, too? He'll never tell) supply a big sound, with intricate, subtle, yet ever-slammin' rock and roll tunes. We just love that, don't we?! Sometimes, too, a keyboard player filled in a riff or chord. And once, during the cathartic "Blankest Year," which begins abruptly with the lines, "oh fuck it/ I'm going to have a party," all the members from the two opening acts came on stage to sing harmonies and dance. I took pictures of that, but I had already moved back from the stage becuase Daniel the bass player was smoking so many cigarettes I was actually choking a little (for the record, I wholly endorse indoor smoking). Although my pictures are awful, I thought I'd slap them up here anyway. I like the shapes the bodies take on the colorfully lighted stage. The last photo is of Rogue Wave's (well-lighted) frontman.


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