Nada Surf wants its fans to know something: The future is scary, uncertain and shifting. But as lead singer Matthew Caws told the crowd at 4th & B on Saturday, he’s hopeful his young fans will polish the future’s murky outlook.
This small moment of seriousness by Caws stood out during the otherwise energetic set, but it was a stirring one that seemed to resonate with the crowd.
The show was was programmed by the locals in Bring on the Bright Lights, which provided mostly local talent to support Nada Surf, including former San Diegans in the Soft Pack, local buzz band Cuckoo Chaos and Republic of Letters.
Nada Surf came onstage well into the night (read: 11 p.m.), greeted by a crowd anxious to hear Caws’ voice. While he might be concerned about the future, he also did a beautiful job of staying in the present. Nada Surf is one of those bands that sounds just as good live as they do in the studio, a testament to Caws' impressive range.
There were some obvious omissions during Nada Surf’s roughly 90-minute set ("Blankest Year," anyone?), which was probably because they wanted to showcase fresh tracks from The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy, which dropped last week. The new songs were well-appreciated by fans, who sang along despite the album's infancy. Poppy choices like "Future" and "Teenage Dream" were the perfect antidotes to San Diego's hard winter nights. Nada Surf has come a long way from the hit of the late '90s "Popular" -- but the band has proven it's no one-hit-wonder.
The Soft Pack's minimalist vibe and gusto have been sorely missed in San Diego since they made their move to L.A. The crowd was happy to have them back for the evening, but their talented set was an obvious reminder of why them moved on to a bigger town. For their part, Cuckoo Chaos had more than a few fans at 4th & B, too, but frontman Scott Wheeler seemed to struggle at times. While the songs were delivered by the band flawlessly, I couldn’t shake the feeling that Wheeler seemed slightly uncomfortable.
Saturday's show highlighted Bring on the Bright Light’s power to put on a good show: They'll present Mutemath and Canon Blue at 4th & B on Friday.