For Floridian slacker kids who have been thrust into the spotlight too soon, Surfer Blood aren't bad. Their sound isn't all there yet, but something hit right with their first singles last year, mixing trendy, vaporous production and four-four power chords that had blogs screaming Weezer.
In January they proved themselves with an album I kind of liked but not as much as the single I kind of loved: "Swim," which sounds even more like Boston than Weezer, with a perfect 1-2-3 "oh-oh-oh" in the hook, which was all I wanted from their show at the Barbary on Monday.
They did it (to reach the end, of course), though the five geeks onstage never looked too joyous or displayed too much showmanship. Ambling on awkwardly with a couple of false starts and one too many frustrated requests to the mixing board, they finally got going with "Floating Vibes," one of the album's good songs, joked about Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, and demonstrated why their winning thud requires two sticksmen, one a Muppet-haired hypo who goes double-time with the Latin percussion on the wirier, Afropop-inspired guitar runs, and one who pounds that kick drum at key moments, as on "Swim" and the blissful, kinetic "Take It Easy."
Some of the dorm-room-recorded tunes gained serious presence onstage, like "Fast Jabroni," which nearly steals Los Angeles-based tropical-prog band Abe Vigoda's entire shtick, and "Catholic Pagans," which gets away with obtuse Vampire Weekend-style name-checking as a plot device. Others, like the penultimate six-minute dirge that felt like six hours, did not.