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Chasing The American Dream

June 04, 2008


I hadn’t seen a concert in 14 months, and Nada Surf has been on my hit list so I was thrilled to see they were finally coming to Miami. I’ve only been a fan for a year but the band, lead singer/guitarist Matthew Caws, bassist Daniel Lorca, and drummer Ira Elliot have been performing for over 12 years now. According to Elliott, the band wanted its name to be somewhat generic that wouldn’t give away what the band sounded like. The original name was just “Nada,” but another band had the same name so it just became Nada Surf. Elliott now describes the band meaning as, “Surfing on nothing or dealing with whatever you have and making the best of it.”

The night did not get off to a rousing start. First, my “date” canceled at the last minute. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? I think this is the fourth time I’ve had to unexpectedly attend a concert unaccompanied. But I did my usual. I gave the extra ticket away to an unsuspecting couple standing next to me in line. The guy asked me how much I wanted for it, but I told him to take it and enjoy the concert. The look of amazement giving way to a smile made my day. He was extremely appreciative which was more than I could say for said person who left me hanging. Then I had to wait an extra hour in line in the heat and humidity. Apparently there was an issue with the sound check.

Once I finally got in the door, I checked out the new venue, Studio A. It was small, dark, cozy, and soon-to-be-filled with smoke. The stage was small and there were sitting areas on both sides of the stage. The venue was filled with kids half my age; an environment I'm still having to get used to. Another 45 minutes passed before the opening band, The Republic Tigers hit the stage. I had seen them on the Letterman show and their single, "Buildings and Mountains" sounded really nice. Thank goodness for that song because it was the only one I liked out of the entire set. I couldn’t clearly hear whatever was coming out of lead singer Kenn Jankowski’s mouth. The music seemed distorted to me. Not my cup of tea for sure. Finally, around 10:30, the boys from Brooklyn, NY hit the stage.

Matthew Caws does not look like your typical rock and roll star. First of all, he’s 41. Wearing jeans and a button down shirt, he reminds me of John Fogerty of CCR. One could argue that he even sings like John. His vocals are fierce and revved up as demonstrated on the opening song, “Hi-Speed Soul,” yet he can hit some really high registers as he demonstrated singing my personal favorite of the night "Weightless." Caws clearly dominated the stage during the impressive 90 minute set often engaging the crowd and encouraging their participation. The band played easily 20 songs including a good portion from their new CD, Lucky. Their indie style is very likeable. I’d describe them as a more energetic Death Cab For Cutie. Caws mentioned during the show that the band hadn’t visited Florida for, “A really, really long time.” Something like five years, I think he said. Well, here’s hoping that they find a way to surf their way back here a lot sooner than that.

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  • Bummed you got stood up, but you get major style points for giving the extra ticket away.

    I always love your reviews!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:56 AM, June 05, 2008  

  • I can't believe you went 14 months without going to a concert! This one seemed to be worth the wait :)

    By Blogger catsteevens, at 2:23 PM, June 09, 2008  

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