If you’re in the mood for some serious ’90s nostalgia, no time machine necessary. Brooklyn’s Beach Fossils at Slim’s on Tuesday night certainly fulfilled such a craving, and the audience was totally into it. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a crowd go so absolutely ballistic. From my position at the edge of a lively flail-pit, I was one with the sweaty mob of enthused Beach Fossils fans dancing up a storm. It was a little unexpected, honestly – sunny dream pop doesn’t exactly equate to a dance-mosh frenzy, but everyone (myself included) certainly welcomed Beach Fossils’ infectious energy and stage wit.
But prior, San Francisco’s own Black Jeans opened the show with a short, electro-drenched set that I wished I was more drunk for. The solo act (a.k.a. the dreadlocked Russell Butler) sounded like a rainbow Crystal Castles trapped inside a synthed-out Haunted Mansion. Butler dubbed the crowd the largest he’s ever played for, which is pretty exciting. His erratic electro-pop and distorted vocals set the tempo for an impending burst of energy from Beach Fossils’ closing set.
Surf Club followed – a loud, new-wavey four-piece from Stockton. I imagine their tour van boasts a bumper sticker that reads “I’d rather be Ian Curtis.” The first thing I noticed was each member of Surf Club had the exact same trendy haircut…and then I realized they were wearing eerily similar outfits…and then it was clear that I was probably in the Twilight Zone of indie rock where each member of Surf Club embodied a baby-faced parallel universe of Joy Division. Whoa. Apart from the post-punk influence, the band name says it all. They churned out a 40-minute stream of emphatic surf pop jams, filled with metallic guitars and some impressively quick drum work. Also noted: they just released a split single with Oakland’s Manatee.
Harnessing the danceability of Black Jeans’ schizophrenic synth and the surf-punk rowdiness of Surf Club, Beach Fossils emerged with tracks from both their self-titled album (2010) and this year’s Clash the Truth. Their set reminded me of DIIV‘s (I’m sensing an aquatic theme here…) performance at Noise Pop Fest 2013, which makes a lot of sense; Zachary Cole Smith (frontman of DIIV) has been an on-and-off touring guitarist for Beach Fossils since their inception. BF champions the same buoyant melodies and reminiscing, ’90s grunge, but their dream-pop is much more direct and sunny than DIIV’s swirling shoegaze. I personally prefer DIIV, but I can’t deny that the energy at Tuesday’s Beach Fossils gig was relentless and intoxicating. Instrumental whirlpools and far-off vocals (like in “Shallow”) sent the audience into a delirious dance-seizure that I couldn’t have escaped if I tried.
They were also pretty hilarious. Some highlights: Dustin Payseur (vocals, guitar) immediately jumped into the pool of fans and played their first song flailing around in the depths of the crowd. They thought the audience was sexy (we were); phrases like “sizzling hot” and “charbroiled crowd” were tossed around, so someone threw a tampon on stage. Makes sense, I guess? Guitarist Tommy Davidson said their incessant guitar-tuning was a performance art piece and Payseur declared it a song called (something along the lines of) “This Is Us Wasting Your Money,” before launching into a track allegedly titled “We’re Fucking LAZY!!!”
Beach Fossils put on a great show, full of explosive energy and a swirly surf-pop/reverberating new-wave hybrid. The crowd’s unrivaled enthusiasm was certainly an indicator. That was just fucking fun.