Surf Curse envelops Great American Music Hall in indie heaven

Pooja Bale/Staff

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The lights of the Great American Music Hall changed to a soft, but electric, blue as sensational indie duo, Surf Curse, stepped onto the stage. The cheers of an already-hyped up crowd filled the small venue. But nothing could compare to the giddy chaos that ensued upon the duo striking the first chord. Hoards of fans rushed forward, swaying together, jumping up and down to the sweet music emanating from the stage. One after another, fans crowd surfed to the waves of music, feet and hands flailing in the air. The entire floor turned into a mosh pit, sucking in innocent bystanders to lose themselves in the music and the sea of bodies.

Surf Curse was formed in 2013 by Nick Rattigan and Jacob Rubeck in Reno, Nevada, and the band has since taken off. The duo has released three albums and one EP, all having received much acclaim from fans. Surf Curse’s newest album, Heaven Surrounds You, was released Sept. 13 and pays tribute to various movies the band members felt left an impact on them. It’s been regarded as a “coming-of-age epic, an indie pop gem full of spangled guitars and echo chamber harmonies.” Surf Curse fits nicely into the growing indie punk scene sweeping the youth.

Upon popular demand, the concert was moved from Slim’s to the larger Great American Music Hall. Surf Curse was opened for by Dirt Buyer, which played a short and sweet set to whet the appetites of the clustered indie kids. The band itself was accompanied by three others on bass, guitar and keyboards, all of whom delivered a stellar performance. The surf rock music engulfed the venue, and one couldn’t help but bob along to the music, regardless of whether you had heard the song before or not. It’s the kind of music that has you longing for your teenage years and the hopeful, yet unsettling, feeling of new love. 

There was something intimate and magical about the sweaty floor of people being driven by the music together. The tempo of the crowd changed as the music did. Soft songs led to a gentle swaying; louder and faster songs generated excited moshing. These fans didn’t care if they bumped into you. They didn’t care if they lost their friend in the crowd. They didn’t care if they lost their shoe while up in the air. They just cared about the music. It was simple enjoyment in its purest form. One concertgoer even whipped off his shirt to proclaim his love for Surf Curse and for living in the moment. 

Surf Curse appropriately played its new hit song, “Disco,” in the middle of its set, the crowd going absolutely nuts and singing along to Rattigan’s vulnerable lyrics. At the end of the set, the band left the stage for a few moments before returning to play an encore for its extremely pleased fans. After the band finished playing, the crowd cleared out, leaving behind a floor littered with scrunchies and empty drink cups. Only when the lights came on could you see how drenched everyone was — although you could definitely feel it before.

Surf Curse has a way of playing that draws you into the music, whether you want to be or not. The combination of emotional vocals, plucky yet somber guitar and angsty lyrics are like a time machine back to the late 90s and early 2000s. You can tell the band has had a huge impact on its fans based on how they packed the venue and how the sheer energy they gave off bounced off the walls. A lovely appeal to the inner teenager of a bunch of young 20-somethings, Surf Curse is refreshing in the face of some of the mundane indie music we’re left to sort through.

Highlights of the set: “Disco,” “Midnight Cowboy,” “Rivers Edge

Contact Pooja Bale at [email protected].