The last time I saw Nada Surf live was back in my SF days (aka pre-2008) - much to my dismay, the band doesn't seem to have much love for shows in North Carolina. This is especially surprising since Matthew Caws has family in the state, and some were even at this show, at least according to his stage banter. Perhaps their reticence to play is the crowd, or lack thereof. My (often poor) estimate is there were probably a couple hundred people there, but I was truly shocked that the place wasn't full, or close to it - sure it was a much more comfortable environment, but Nada Surf deserve better. They're probably second best pure pop band working after Teenage Fanclub.
They're a pro outfit - every song sounds impeccable, they had their own fancy light rig synced up to the music, and you can tell by the way they interact with the crowd that they're very comfortable on stage. To my surprise Doug Gillard is now in the band - I guess this happened a few years ago, but like I said, I haven't had the chance to see Nada Surf live in quite a while. This is at least the third band I've seen him with - Guided By Voices and Superdrag being the two others (for some reason I feel like there is one more, but my brain just can't recall). They played for probably an hour and a half, hitting nearly everything you might want to hear - there were classics ("Always Love," "Blonde on Blonde"), new favorites ("Friend Hospital," "Rushing"), and they even played their nineties hit "Popular," which I don't think I've ever heard them perform before. They closed out the night with a totally acoustic (as in no amplification at all) version of "Blizzard of 77," complete with a robust crowd sing-along. There might not have been as many people at the gig as there should have been, but those that did show up were very enthusiastic.
I caught about half of the set by openers Amber Arcades, who I knew not a single thing about. They were a five piece with a female singer who reminded me of Mac DeMarco for some reason - visually, not musically. I think it was the hat she was wearing, or maybe I'm just an idiot (or both). Musically they made me think a lot of the Aislers Set, a clean shoegaze/jangle pop hybrid, and I quite liked it. When I'm dictator more bands will sound like the Aislers Set, per official decree. Oh, and then after the show I googled the band and it turns out they're Dutch, it's primarily the work of the singer Annelotte de Graaf, and she has two law degrees and works for the international war crimes tribunal. I wonder if I play nothing but Amber Arcades around my daughter she will turn out that awesome?