Nada Surf Delivers Gracefully At World Cafe Live

All Photography by Natalie Mecaughey

On the evening of Thursday June 2nd 2016 Nada Surf made a much anticipated stop in Philadelphia, their first since December of 2012, in support of their newest full length album release You Know Who You Are as well as album single “Cold To See Clear”…

Music fans may easily recall when the band broke in the years when MTV’s music video circulation was still in its prominence, quickly gaining popularity during the mid 1990’s with the hit song Popular from their breakthrough album High/Low produced by Ric Ocasek of The Cars. Nada Surf has gone on to put together an impressive catalog of on their own over the past 20 years, including records such as 2002’s Let Go and 2012’s The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy and great songs such as “The Blizzard of ‘77”…

And “The Way You Wear Your Head”…

The latest visit to Philly for these musical journeymen saw an intimate performance given to a packed crowd at WXPN’s World Café Live, front man Matthew Caws shared new music as well as his genuine human transparency and gift as a storyteller in reflecting on tales of days gone by as to the backgrounds of various songs and memories, including a unique journey he had taken as a young man to serve as a prom date in New Jersey once upon a time. A set that saw them span a good stretch of their luminous career included Los Angeles musician Daniel Brummel sitting in on Bass, filling in for Daniel Lorca who was slated to rejoin them in Europe shortly thereafter.

Caws was backed by fellow founding member Ira Elliot who manned the kit faithfully with his trademark passion and energy that fans know and love him for, and flanking them was none other than the newest member of Nada Surf as of 2012, former member of legendary indie icons Guided By Voices and accomplished guitarist Doug Gillard. The crowd hung on Caws every word between songs; anyone who attended the phenomenal performance by the band on their 2012 tour in the basement at First Unitarian can surely attest that they were still riding the show’s electricity even several years later! The wait for the bands return was greatly rewarded with the type of quality concert that fans have come to know the band for.

A special moment came full circle for me as a fan since the band first broke in the 1990’s in the form of Brummel whose full-time band Ozma opened for Nada Surf on the very first show of theirs that I attended at the Middle East Club (Downstairs) in Cambridge, MA where I essentially ‘grew up’ going to shows in the Boston music scene. Having shared great times and conversation that evening with Daniel and Ozma keyboardist and vocalist Star Wick, it was an unexpected but welcome surprise to enjoy the presence that Brummel brought to the stage here in the present and to re-connect following the show.

Afterwards in his true and humble fashion, Matthew shared with Rock On Philly that “Philadelphia, along with Boston and obviously New York is one of the places we’ve played the most over the years and other bands too, so it’s like it feels pretty home-y… So it’s like waking up in your own town except it looks different, ya know? But I’m enjoying this tour, and we’ve been away for four years which is probably a good thing… Gave people a chance to miss us a little bit probably… And everything’s good… It’s all good.”

It is very evident on You Know Who You Are… that Caws, Elliot, Lorca and Gillard only seem to get better and better, leaving much excitement to be had for many years to come for the Nada Surf faithful.

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