This past Tuesday night I had the privilege of introducing Nada Surf for a sold out show at the Troubadour. I liked their sole mainstream hit, “Popular,” when I was in junior high school but, like most Nada Surf fans, I really began to pay close attention when the began releasing records for Seattle-based indie label Barsuk years later. By that time, they had pretty clear cut idea of who exactly they were as a band, and what exactly they were trying to do — a style of power pop that was pristine and essentially note perfect.
After three lovely records for Barsuk, they are releasing a new album comprised entirely of covers on their own label Mardev. They played several of them Tuesday night, dispersed amongst fan favorites. My introduction was even acknowledged before the first cover of the night with the caveat of lead singer Matthew Caws, feeling slightly embarrassed for not remembering my name. He explained the feeling in the most endearing manner, “You know, it’s the same as being introduced to someone, and you have to ask their name again later cause when they told it to you the first time you were too busy meeting them.”
He then thanked “Carol” for the introduction, and for mentioning the new album. From there (purely coincidentally) they went straight into the Go-Betweens cover that has been my favorite track off the record thus far.
The band as a whole sounded like they were having the time of their lives. The presence of past collaborator Louie Lino, and former Guided by Voices guitarist Doug Gillard, in no doubt added to this a great deal.
It’s always particularly thrilling to witness a band who can retain the best sonic elements of their recordings in a live setting, but still manage to enhance it all with something a bit reckless. It’s incredibly fun, and gives you pretty much no choice to be drawn in. And ultimately, in spite of each impressive individual contribution, I think this might be the very thing that Nada Surf does best.