Sunday, July 22 , 2018, 3:09 pm | Fair 79º


Jeff Moehlis: Surfer Blood Rocks Velvet Jones

Young Florida band serves up fuzzy fun to under- and over-21 crowd

Surfer Blood’s singer and rhythm guitarist, John Paul Pitts, was trying desperately to reach the over-21 crowd at Santa Barbara’s Velvet Jones last Thursday night. Literally.

On two occasions, Pitts was crowd-surfing on the arms of the mostly under-21 crowd in front of the stage, and managed to clear the wooden barrier to crowd-surf into the more laid-back over-21 area. This was a dangerous proposition, of course, since most of the over-21s were holding a beer or other drink in one hand, handicapping their ability to help hold him up.

As Pitts approached me in the over-21 section, I had a flashback to the time when a friend of mine (Alex) had over-imbibed, and he and I were sitting in the back seat of the car of another friend (Jen) on our way home. When Jen made a sudden turn, Alex couldn’t hold it in anymore. I was left holding a pan of half-eaten butter cake, and I had to decide — save the cake, or save the car. I chose to save the cake, and I should have saved the car. Alex and I had a long walk home that night.

So back to Pitts. As he crowd-surfed into my territory, my mind was thinking, “Save the beer, or save the dude.” Fortunately, both ended up being safe, as enough other over-21s had at least one free hand to help keep him up. Crowd-surfer blood was thankfully avoided.

Surfer Blood played an energetic set of their brand of fuzzy alt-rock with melodic singing over a swell of distortion provided by the band’s secret weapon, guitarist and feedback fiend Thomas Fekete, who had his distortion effects set on mofo.

They kicked off with the infectious “Floating Vibes” from their 2010 debut album Astro Coast, and didn’t look back. Other highlights from this album were the “oldie but goodie” “Twin Peaks,” the encore-closing “Anchorage” and the stompin’ “Swim.” They also played two songs off their 2011 EP Tarot Classics: “Voyager Reprise” and “Miranda,” the latter really getting the crowd pumped up for good.

We also got a taste of some songs that will presumably be on their sophomore album, including “St. Patrick’s Day,” “Blair Witch” and “Bird for You.” These thankfully don’t shake up the formula too much, so expect the fuzzy fun to continue.

Speaking as an over-21, it’s cool to hear the kids of today mixing melody and distortion to such good effect. If I really had to choose, I guess I’d have to save the dude instead of the beer.

Noozhawk contributing writer Jeff Moehlis is a professor of mechanical engineering at UCSB. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his Web site,

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