Surfer Blood drew a moderate, yet enthusiastic crowd during the Heat Music Festival, held Saturday night on the campus of UC Riverside.
They performed an invigorating 11-song, 45-minute set that often recalled The Shins’ splendor and Pixies' abrasiveness. The latter touchstone made perfect sense since the Florida alt-rock band’s upcoming June album Pythons was produced by Gil Norton.
Although some new songs were debuted (“Say Yes to Me” was a jaunty delight), much of the material came from 2011’s Tarot Classics EP and 2010 full length Astro Coast. Singer/guitarist JP Pitts said that the mellow and bass-heavy, Ocean Blue-esque “Drinking Problem” was inspired by a friend. Then he made the first of several forays into the crowd.
The “Floating Vibes” lyrics “if you’re moving out to the west/then you better learn how to surf” drew cheers from students watching in the large Highland Stage tent. Tasty maelstrom guitar work from Pitts and Thomas Fekete here and during the reverb-heavy “Swim” were both highlights. Others came via the danceable rock tropicalia in “Twin Peaks,” chiming guitars and pop harmonies of “Miranda” and spacey, crashing capper “Anchorage.”