Following their performances at the SXSW festival in mid-March and a slew of other shows all throughout last week, Brooklyn-based indie four-piece Beach Fossils took the time to come out to Stony Brook on Thursday for part of the on-going Stony Brooklyn series. Despite an absolutely horrendous crowd and a number of apparent sound problems that University Cafe employees didn’t seem to address quickly enough, Beach Fossils played with an astounding intensity that displayed how able they are to morph their sound to their liking when it comes to live sets.
Opening for front man Dustin Payseur and his crew of reverb-loving musicians was a rather interesting band called Robbers that almost no one in the crowd had heard of. Headed by the lanky, mustached Andrew Accardi, who donned an impressive afro and equally impressive sea-foam green guitar, Robbers treaded the line between an early 2000s jam band and the explosive, swirling sounds of experimental rock.
It was an odd mix, but they pulled it off well. Their set was made even better by Accardi’s hilarious stage presence, which involved absolutely absurd facial expressions and admirable body wiggling while he thrashed on with the rhythm guitar parts. Interesting side note, Accardi is the brother of guitarist Vince Accardi of fellow LI band Brand New that I guess some people have probably heard of.
Beach Fossils hit the stage shortly after ten, which was refreshing considering how much bullshit waiting people had to do for Das Racist’s 30 minute set at the last Stony Brooklyn. Immediately, Payseur noticed some problems with the sound, and after opening with the namesake song from their new EP, What A Pleasure, he called for every instrument to be turned up and the reverb to be dialed all the way up.
Throughout the next few tracks, core members Payseur and bassist John Pena, who are listed as the only members of the band while drummer and guitarist Zachary Cole Smith and Tom Gardner are simply touring members, complained further about the lack of reverb and volume. At one point, a crowd member jokingly told them to ask for reverb on the reverb, and Payseur repeated that into the mic with a smile. So it seemed that they weren’t necessarily having a bad time for the first half of the show; they were just a little pissed off about the sound quality.
After they got everything in order more or less, the show really picked up. They got to the standout track of the new EP, “Cayler,” and guitarist Smith and Payseur began literally dancing up and down the stage at each guitar break while Pena and Gardner threw everything into the bass and drums. The track is normally played relatively slowly as heard on the EP, but Beach Fossils sped it up for the live version and Gardner’s drumming was far more explosive and upbeat, adding to the overall intensity of the performance.
The strangest thing to happen throughout the night was the fact that people actually started leaving during Beach Fossils’ set. For a band that just played SXSW and is set up to play SUNY Purchase’s Culture Shock on April 15, it made no sense. My best guess is that people simple didn’t care, and those who really wanted to see the guys play had to deal with cigarette-smoking assholes who kept coming in and out the front door in their hopeless attempts to turn the concert exclusively into a social scene.
Despite the shortcomings, Beach Fossils rounded out their roughly hour-long performance with some hits from their debut full length, like “Daydream” and “Golden Age,” and only got more and more into the performance as the night went on. Finally, by the last three our four songs the crowd was moving along with them. So it’s great that we got a band that is just now exploding in popularity, but it sucks we had to greet them with a shitty crowd that couldn’t have cared less and sub-par sound guys who didn’t like to listen.