Lo-fi indie rockers Surf Curse graced the Drkmttr stage on Monday night to a sold-out crowd of pure energy bathed in purple fluorescent light.
The band’s reputation preceded them, as the 20 tickets left at the door disappeared alarmingly fast. Hopeful attendees stood outside in a hodgepodge of outfits as Nashvillians navigated getting dressed for the first day below 90 degrees in months.
As the line of people waiting for spots dwindled, Promweather kicked off the night with a Beach House meets The Frights-esque set. Their sound paired nicely with the crowd’s expectations for the headliners, and the excitement quickly started spreading through the room.
After a relatively long set change, local band Peachy took the stage. Their set had a harder edge, with a female-fronted punk sound that quickly rebuilt the crowds after the long break. In a flurry of head bangs and hair flips, their set dared the crowd to look away. With lyrics like “nobody likes an asshole” and a song with patronizing vocals that quickly dissed every trust fund baby in the city, a mosh pit quickly ensued.
Dirt Buyers’ lead singer Joe Sutkowski showcased his dynamic vocals at the start of their set with an almost-acapella ballad. His shoulder-length flaming red hair would lead most to expect a certain sound, but instead they echoed the powerful melancholy of The Districts. While not exactly upbeat songs, they quickly got the crowd nodding along and invested in their performance. Sutkowski and bassist Emma Stacher hit the occasional harmony that echoed through the venue and quieted any wallflower conversations. The slowed down set didn’t hinder the hair flips, as the band continued in the high performance level set by the other openers.
Surf Curse took the crowd by surprise a bit as drummer and lead vocalist Nick Rattigan turned his sound check into the perfect opportunity to show off his percussion prowess. Not sure if this was a sound check or the start of the set, the crowd quickly cheered over the flawlessly executed fills.
Once it was entirely clear the set had started, no one was safe from the giant mosh pit that immediately engulfed the audience. The only people not involved stood on the outskirts safely filming every second of the performance for Instagram. The room quickly steamed up as the night progressed and a number of audience members’ shirts mysteriously disappeared.
At any point, the crowd was a flurry of motion with limbs escaping every side of a pulsating congregation. The occasional crowd surfer popped above the mass of people only to quickly realize most were too engrossed in the set to bother holding up the sweaty body above their heads. Rattigan’s quick drum beats were like marching orders, and the low-level stage made the audience itself the central focus.
To give the crowd a bit of a breather, guitarist Jacob Rubeck improvised a bit of banter over a still-incredibly-impressive drum roll by Rattigan. He listed some of their stops in Nashville — Santa’s Pub, the Country Music Hall of Fame, Arnold’s Country Kitchen — to which the crowd responded, “The fuck is an Arnold’s?”
Later in the set, they semi-jokingly placed their food and drink order from the bar with the help of the audience, claiming “Coors Light is Colorado Kool-aid.”
Every instrument was crisp and clean throughout the night, providing the perfect backdrop for the stylistically less-enunciated lyrics.
Before their song “Ponyboy,” Rubeck explained the song would be dedicated to the guy in the audience who shoved a phone into his face during the opening song. The guy quickly ran to the stage cheering in response.
People jumped dangerously close to ceiling pipes during their more somber song “Safe,” which hits on themes of distrust in others because of your own perceived shortcomings. The intimate venue created a sense of assurance and belonging, even if it was fleeting.
The band left the stage while a mass of sweaty fans chanted for “Freaks.” After a few moments rest and a brief illumination of the house lights, they came back on and the crowd lost their minds harder than ever. For 2 minutes and 27 seconds, this was all that mattered.
At the announcement of the last song, the audience grew antsy since neither of their biggest hits, “Freaks” and “Disco,” had yet been played. But at the first strum of the guitar in “Disco,” the crowd immediately rushed the stage to mosh, dance and crowd surf.