Nada Surf at Terminal 5

Friday, April 11th, 2008 | All Things, Music

The independent New York City concert-promoters at Bowery Presents opened Terminal 5 in the former Club Exit on far West 56th Street in October 2007. With a capacity of 3,000, this is the newest and largest venue in an empire of club holdings that includes the Mercury Lounge, the Bowery Ballroom, Webster Hall, and the Music Hall of Williamsburg (ne Northsix). The 40,000-square-foot cavern underwent a multi-million dollar industrial-chic renovation by architect Brian Swier, who also led the redesign on the Williamsburg factory space.

The main floor features the performance space, 40-foot ceilings with exposed ductwork (and a disco ball), and two tiers of wrap-around mezzanines. The third floor bar serves empanadas from the swankified Empanada Mama in Hells Kitchen.

We arrived tonight, catching the last 15 minutes of Superdrag‘s opening set (and encountering at least one very enthusiastic superfan in the process.) We had opted for positions near the front on the floor, in full view of the stage set-up, which involved a series of five large round mirrors that reflected back into the crowd. By the time Nada Surf took the stage it was nearly 10.

The band was on tour to promote their fifth studio album, Lucky. Almost improbably it seems, the Brooklyn-based trio has been around for over a decade: back in 1996, their novelty hit “Popular” was on endless rotation on MTV — amusing in its skewering of teenage romance clichés, if not particularly representative of their later sound. (In his intro to the song, lead singer-guitarist Matthew Caws insisted that the band still enjoys performing it, despite rumors to the contrary.)

The multi-talented Martin Wenk of Calexico joined bassist Daniel Lorca and drummer Ira Elliot on back-up horns during a cheerful set that ran over 90 minutes. Caws interacted with his audience affably, inviting several sing-a-longs, and at one point, coaxed the crowd into a jaunty arm-waving two-step during what he called the band’s attempt at a Motown song, “Inside of Love.”

Caws dedicated “Beautiful Beat” off of Lucky to his first boss from a “basement record store on Cornelia Street“ (who was watching the concert from the first balcony — I wonder about the acoustics in the upper reaches). At the same time, he worked in a plug for Record Store Day (April 19) — a day to honor independently owned record stores across the country.

The four-song encore included the familiar “Blonde on Blonde” and “Always Love.” And here’s a video of the show’s “Blankest Year” finale. The tunes are not edgy; indeed Nada Surf’s music has a certain generic indie-poppiness that makes it extremely soundtrack-friendly. But sometimes — what can I say? — I’m a sucker for a competently crafted melodic hook. Judging from the loyal fanbase at Terminal 5 tonight, I’m not the only one.

The following night, Nada Surf continued their tour in Washington, D.C. Listen to a live recording of their entire April 12th performance at the 9:30 Club on NPR.

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There are 2 Comments ... Nada Surf at Terminal 5

May 7, 2008

I wanna know what it’s like…inside…

Nathan Kong
May 12, 2008

Good pictures.
Put more things!

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