Who: Surf Dads
Where: The Hideout, Toronto
When: 6 May 2016
In one word: Intense
Surf Dads are a surf punk band originating from Regina, Saskatchewan, taking major influences from bands like Wavves and Weezer. A band with an impossible start, Chris Dimas was living 2800 kilometers away from Gage McGuire. After exchanging iPhone recorded demos, Chris and Gage met up to record their first debut release ‘Denny’s EP’. Almost immediately afterward, Surf Dads received record label attention, and signed to Split Tape records. A few new EPs later, and the band is embarking on their first tour. In between everything, they have also found time to shoot two live videos, one of which is in a bathroom, and the other in a Mr. Sub. Surf Dad’s Canadian Music Week experience was a long one, playing 7 shows in the span of 3 days. I had the opportunity to catch their last set of the festival at The Hideout.
The sound of Surf Dads is fun and energetic. It combines the intensity of punk music with the catchiness typical of surf music. The band is well rehearsed, fast paced and creates well-rounded songs that gives them a large and powerful sound. Altough they play a typically loud set, they know how to bring the intensity up a notch from 10 to 11, making the intense parts really stand out from the rest of the song, and also, from other bands in the genre.
The singer of Surf Dads, Gage McGuire, has a voice that fits the band perfectly. Though singing while playing rhythm guitar can be challenging, he managed to do both while giving off a good amount of stage presence. His instrumental energy was emphasized onstage when he dropped to his knees while playing guitar. Being a small live show, the lyrics were a bit difficult to decipher. However, they were loud enough for me to tell that he was always on pitch, and had a punk tone to his voice that really added to the band’s sound, and he gave off a good shout when needed.
The lead guitar riffs are always creative and well placed, showing skill well not doing anything outlandish that would throw off the song entirely. For me, a sign of a good guitar player is when they write parts to fit the music they are playing, rather than overdoing it with however much technical ability they have. Though I do not know the extent of the guitar players ability, I do know that everything he played complimented the song, without drawing any major attention away from the other parts of the band, keeping the song sounding full.
Bass was consistently well done. Nothing too outlandish, keeping the parts tame and holding down the root of the song, well also throwing in a nice riff every so often to keep the song interesting. The bass players screaming vocals really threw some spice into the mix and added a nice level of unpredictability.
The drumming is where Surf Dads really excels. The drummer, Chris Dimas, preformed complex fills with ease. He played quick pounding kick drum parts, while remaining on time and fast paced without a single slip through the whole set. At a drop of a hat the drums become bone crushingly intense, giving the song even more of a punch, more so then anything I’ve heard in a surf punk band.
Surf Dads, like their music entails, has good stage energy to match their performance. I would say the main contributors to this are the singer and the drummer. Ideally, I would like to have seen more energy from the lead guitar player and the bassist. That being said, the stage they played on was relatively small, and the crowd for their set had no energy for them to go off of, so that could have contributed to the stage energy.
If I had one complaint about this band, it would be that the band does not do anything radically different musically from other bands of the genre. Though their music is well written and pretty original, the predictable chord structures and melodies make it pretty formulaic. That being said, if you’re watching them to have a good time, they’re perfect and really capture the feel and sound that a surf punk band should offer.
All in all, Surf Dads played a great set, and you should definitely go see them live for yourself if you ever get the chance. Currently, they are on their way to Liverpool to play the Sound City festival. You can check out their music on Sound Cloud.
© Riley Barnes, Music Vice
Surf Dads at the Hideout by Hannah Edgerton:
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