Nada Surf made it clear throughout its set Saturday night that this was a homecoming of sorts. “This is the first rock club I ever went to,” lead vocalist Matthew Caws announced. “It’s really a big deal to play here.” The trip down memory lane didn’t stop there as Webster Hall just so happened to be the place where Caws saw a music video for the first time with his dad and sister. Even Caws’ mom made an appearance that night, much to the delight of Caws and the fans in attendance. Contributing nostalgia-heavy stories as well were bassist Daniel Lorca, whose first show was also at Webster, and drummer Ira Elliot, who opened for the Bangles there in 1985.
Oh yeah, there was music too. Australian indie rock duo An Horse started off the night with an impressive 40 minute set that had more energy than some four-piece rock bands I’ve seen. Vocalist and guitarist, Kate Cooper, had the swagger of Carrie Brownstein, while Damon Cox’s drums were loud and intense. Cooper can make an acoustic guitar rock out and her powerful vocals are a thing to behold. It was surprising then when the band engaged the audience in some banter because the two have such a soft-spoken manner to them.
Nada Surf took the stage at 8:30 and immediately dove into the music, starting its set with a track off of its new album, The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy. This is the first tour where Nada Surf is playing as a quintet. In addition to the core three, the band has added an extra guitarist and a multi-instrumentalist for added effects and trumpet. Everyone on stage seemed to be firing on all cylinders and having a great time. The crowd especially enjoyed the show, cheering and singing along to almost every song. In addition to the new material, the band leaned hard on songs from 2005’s The Weight Is A Gift and 2002’s Let Go. But surprisingly there were no tracks played from the band’s 1996 debut full-length High/Low. Maybe the group just didn’t want to run the risk of someone yelling out a request for “Popular.” Altogether it was a solid rock show made even better if you were already an admirer of Nada Surf. But even if you came to the show only knowing a few songs, it’d be hard to leave without having a newfound appreciation for the band.