Show Review: Club BFD with Surfer Blood, Innerpartysystem, The Vaccines and Geographer at Mezzanine, 6/4/2011

by Gordon Elgart on June 6, 2011

Surfer Blood are head and shoulders above the competition

This is the first time I can remember Club BFD being better than original BFD. First off, there’s the lineup which has more melody in four bands than there’d be in 11 hours on Sunday. Then there’s the Mezzanine, which welcomes its visitors with a high-res screen featuring sharp animations about tonight’s show and future events. At “real BFD,” there’s a static monitor. And in a club that holds somewhere in the 1000-person range, there’s a multi-camera shoot being projected on walls throughout the venue; at big BFD, there were no screens inside the amphitheater at all. I’m not even going to discuss the drink price competition. So the Mezzanine is all class, we know that. But how were the bands?

First up was local stalwarts, Geographer, who I’d shockingly never seen before. They were completely different than I expected. They sound amazing. Why no one told me about the electric cello, I’ll never know. There’s a drummer playing licks from the Roy Thomas Baker school of BIG drums, and then there’s jack of all trades, Mike Deni. He sings beautifully, plays guitar, loops stuff, plays synth, and noodles on instruments I don’t recognize. It’s a bit tiring to watch; it must be moreso to do. This band has it all: chops, songs, and a good sound. If they’re still a “local band” in a year, I’ll be surprised.

Coming to the stage next were The Vaccines, from London. They were a typical British The Band (TM). If you know what I mean, then you know what I mean. Four guys, all playing the instruments you’d expect, playing the music you’d expect. There is absolutely nothing original about this band. Everything about them is derivative, borrowing melodies from The Beatles, Vampire Weekend and Interpol, to name a few. The guitar player even borrowed most of his movies from Marty McFly (who had actually borrowed most of his moves from Chris Hayes of The News). But still, there was something pleasing about this pastiche. I can see why they’ve risen above other bands of a similar ilk. I wouldn’t show up late to miss their set, which coming from me about a British The Band, is high praise.

And on guitar, Marty McFly!

Next up to the stage would be Innnerpar… oh wait, what’s this? They did the thing where the headliner doesn’t play last. So we got Surfer Blood when we still had energy left, and thank god for that, because they required it.

They started off a little slower than I remember them doing at Treasure Island, and I was being lulled into a nice serene sense of pop garage, but then the energy kept going up a notch, then another, then another, until the crowd was jumping around and into each other, the band was in the audience, and we were all a bit spent. Surfer Blood is one of those bands that just doesn’t translate on record; you need to see them live and get caught up in it.

I have this same shirt

Finally, we were going to get treated to a set by Innerpartysystem. I was really impressed with them the last time I saw them, and would be the next time I saw them (they really blew through the BFD crowd on Sunday), but tonight was slightly disappointing. The band tried hard, and the crowd that was left seemed to enjoy them, but playing post-headliner is a challenge. I imagine that looking out at the 100-150 stragglers seemed a bit sad to them, and maybe they were tired from the travel, or maybe they were saving it for the bigger audience the next day, or maybe I was just dead tired. Maybe it was all of these.

That is a really cool looking thing, whatever it is

This review wouldn’t be complete without mentioning omni-present DJ Aaron Axelsen, who managed to keep the energy up between bands, even in the middle of what’s likely his busiest weekend all year. Anyone who plays a Joy Formidable remix is always all right in my book.


Photos by David Price. See these and more here.



Gordon Elgart

A music nerd who probably uses that term too much. I have a deep love for bombastic, quirky and dynamic music.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Casey June 8, 2011 at 9:18 am

What Joy Formidable remix did Aaron Axlesen play? Thanks for writing this review! I have The Vaccines album and I get exactly what you mean about them, but they’re such a buzz band now so I’ve been wondering what their live show is like. Now I know, and it seems about what I would have expected it to be. 🙂


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