• Christine

Nada Surf Is Back With New Music And A New Tour!

Updated: Mar 18

You might only know Nada Surf from their 1996 hit “Popular“. If so, there is so much more to their musical catalog!


In fact, Nada Surf doesn’t even play “Popular” during their shows. And their other music doesn’t really sound anything like that song.


While I was a little familiar with Nada Surf, I was excited to dig into their music in anticipation of this show. And in my quest to see more bands that are new to me this year, I was ready to check them out live for the first time.


The first “new” band I saw in 2020 was The Samples, and I loved them. Would I love Nada Surf? Keep reading to find out!


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THE VENUE

World Café Live is an independent music venue in downtown Philadelphia. Located in the University City area, it brings in both local and national artists, as well as hosting a variety of other private and public events. The venue opened in 2004, and hosts over 500 shows per year between its upstairs and downstairs space.

World Cafe Live

One of the best things about a small venue like World Cafe Live, is being able to be this close to the stage for a show!

To learn more about the venue, check out my post from a show I attended there last year here.


THE SHOW


AARON LEE TASJAN


ABOUT THE ARTIST

Aaron Lee Tasjan grew up just outside Columbus, OH. Both of his parents were musicians, which led to Tasjan’s love of music. He taught himself how to play guitar at 11 years old and by the age of 16, he was the recipient of the Outstanding Guitarist Award in the Essentially Ellington Competition at Jazz at Lincoln Center in NYC.


For the early part of his professional career, Tasjan was a member of several bands, including a late incarnation of the New York Dolls.


In 2013, Tasjan decided to focus on a solo career as well as to start writing. He moved to Nashville and released his first full-length record – In The Blazes – in 2015. That album was followed in 2016 by Silver Tears.


Tasjan’s most recent album – Karma For Cheap – was released in 2018. He also released a new version of the songs on that album – Karma For Cheap: Reincarnated – in 2019.


THE PERFORMANCE

Aaron Lee Tasjan took the stage at 8 p.m. He started off the show on his guitar with “I Love America Better Than You”. Tasjan then went into one of his new songs – “Big Heart Sick Mind”.


Whenever I see a singer/songwriter perform, I look for something that sets them apart from the others. For Tasjan, his guitar playing clearly differentiates him. He is an extremely talented guitar player.

Aaron Lee Tasjan

Aaron Lee Tasjan is a very talented guitarist. It was impressive!

Tasjan also played a few songs on the keyboard, including “Little Movies”.

Aaron Lee Tasjan

Tasjan also played the keyboard during his set.

One of the things I loved about Tasjan, was his sense of humor. One of his best lines of the night was “I’m not the band you are here to see, but I’m the band you are seeing now”. He also joked with someone in the audience when they told him they liked his sweater. Tasjan said it was very warm and purchased from the ladies’ department in a very nice thrift store.

Tasjan even took a request. Someone asked him to play “Florida Man”, and he said… sure, no problem. Not sure if it was actually planned on his set list or not, but it was pretty cool that he played it either way.


Set List (click on any title to purchase the song on Amazon): I Love America Better Than You, Big Heart Sick Mind, Dime, If Not Now When, Success, Little Movies, My Whole Life Is Over (All Over Again), The Rest Is Yet To Come, Florida Man, Heart Slows Down


Aaron Lee Tasjan is playing a couple of shows with Nada Surf on this tour. To keep up with his new music and other shows, check out his website.


NADA SURF


ABOUT THE ARTIST

Nada Surf formed in the early 90’s and is based out of NYC. The band is made up of Matthew Caws (vocals/guitar), Ira Elliot (drums), and Daniel Lorca (bass).


Caws and Lorca formed the original band, which was called Helicopter. After going through a couple of drummers, Elliot joined the band in 1995. Nada Surf had a demo tape – Takfans. After another band’s show at the Knitting Factory, the band met Cars front man Ric Ocasek and gave him the demo tape. They were surprised to actually hear back from Ocasek, who told them he wanted to produce their album. Nada Surf quickly signed with Elektra Records and released High/Low in 1996.

Nada Surf

The “almost” original line up of Nada Surf – Caws, Elliot and Lorca!

The album contained the song “Popular”, which became a summer hit and a staple on the radio.


Nada Surf released The Proximity Effect in 1998. Although their hopes were high, the album never gained any commercial success. The record label felt that the album didn’t have any “hit” songs on it, so they had the band record several covers. Nada Surf didn’t agree with moving in the direction of a “cover band”, and broke their contract.


By the late 90’s, the band had resorted to working regular jobs. They made a comeback in 2002 with the album Let Go. The album was critically acclaimed and had a small hit – “Inside of Love”. They followed that up with 2005’s The Weight Is A Gift and 2008’s Lucky.


In 2010, Nada Surf embraced the covers with the release of If I Had A Hi-Fi. The album featured covers of such artists as Depeche Mode and Kate Bush. That album was followed up with an album of original songs in 2012 called The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy.


Nada Surf released their last album in 2016 – You Know Who You Are.


In 2020, Nada Surf is back with new music. Their latest single – “So Much Love” came out in January. And their ninth studio album – Never Not Together – is due out on February 7th.


THE PERFORMANCE

Nada Surf took the stage shortly after 9 p.m. They kicked off the show with “Looking Through” and then went into “Whose Authority”.


It didn’t take more than a couple of songs into their set, when I realized why I like Nada Surf so much. Their stuff definitely has a mix of 70’s punk and a little bit of the Cure sound to the bass at times. Two of my favorite things!

Nada Surf

I really loved the bass on all of the songs!

I really enjoyed seeing the interaction and personality of the guys from Nada Surf on stage. Matthew Caws is clearly the serious one in the band. Ira Elliot seems to be the “director” of the band – as many drummers are. He even corrected Caws when he incorrectly introduced one of the songs they were going to play.

Nada Surf

Each of the guys in Nada Surf had their own unique personality and role in the band.

Then there is Daniel Lorca. First of all, anyone that has a head of dreadlocks like those has to have a pretty crazy and fun personality. He was quite the showman on stage too. Most bass players are a little low key on stage, but not Lorca. He even kept an unlit cigarette in his mouth for part of the show. Impressive that he could sing with it there!

Nada Surf

Daniel Lorca looks like he’s a pretty fun guy to hang out with!

Nada Surf played a few songs off their new album, which was available for sale early at the show. They closed the main set out with a new song called “Something I Should Do”. The song was the closest of theirs I’ve heard to “Popular”. It included a “talking” part from Caws, who had the words on an easel in front of him for help. Let me tell you…. I would have needed the cheat sheet too. It was impressive!

Nada Surf

Nada Surf played mostly old material, with a few brand new songs thrown in.

For the encore, Nada Surf started out acoustically, with Caws on the guitar and the rest of the guys providing back-up vocals on “Blizzard of ’77”.

Nada Surf

Nada Surf doing some acoustic to wrap up the show.

Nada Surf closed out the show with “Blankest Year”. They got the crowd singing along with “Oh, f*ck it, I’m gonna have a party”! It was definitely a party to end the show.


After wrapping up the show and thanking the crowd, Caws just jumped off the stage right next to us and headed straight to the merch table to greet fans and sign autographs. I thought that was super cool, so people didn’t have to wait around on a Thursday night. Great music and great guys!

Nada Surf

Nada Surf thanking the crowd for a great night.

Set List (click on any title to purchase the song on Amazon): Looking Through, Whose Authority, Hi-Speed Soul, Friend Hospital, The Plan, Killian’s Red, So Much Love, Inside of Love, What Is Your Secret, Beautiful Beat, Cold To See Clear, Blonde On Blonde, Hyperspace, Looking For You, Paper Boats, See These Bones, Something I Should Do Encore: Blizzard of ’77, Always Love, Blankest Year

Nada Surf

The set list from Nada Surf’s show at World Cafe Live.

Nada Surf has wrapped up the North American portion of their tour and are on their way to play some dates in Europe. However, with a new album out this month, I expect Nada Surf to be back playing in the U.S. soon. Check out their website to keep up with any upcoming dates.


Have you seen Nada Surf before? If so, what did you think? Let us know! Comment below or e-mail me at tips2livebywriter@gmail.com.


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