Concert Review: Pom Pom Squad, Nada Surf, November 7, Horseshoe Tavern


Before I get too deep into this review, I’d like to first take a moment to point out how nice it felt to be back at the Horseshoe Tavern to take in a show again for the first time in nearly two years. Nice, but still a bit weird – it’ll likely take a bit of time before being in a packed room watching bands feels totally normal. Still, it did feel good to be back, in no small part due to the performances of the two bands playing the ‘Shoe on this occasion – Nada Surf and Pom Pom Squad.

Pom Pom Squad played an impressive set made up mostly of tracks off of this year’s Death Of A Cheerleader with a few choice cuts from debut EP Ow thrown in as well. Though the band only played for about half and hour, they packed a lot of energy into that roughly 30 minute set. Like their latest album, their live set went by relatively quickly but there was a lot going on as they ran the gamut stylistically from grungy indie rock to ’60s girl group-inspired sounds. They definitely seemed pretty stoked to finally be out on the road and playing tracks like “Head Cheerleader”, “Drunk Voicemail” and “Be Good” before an appreciative crowd. It was a very assured and impressive performance that left me wanting just a bit more. Luckily they’ll be back in town in a few months as part of a stacked bill that also features Illuminati Hotties and Fenne Lily.

Following Pom Pom Squad, Nada Surf took to the stage and played a fairly lengthy set of songs from throughout their career, including one track i wasn’t necessarily expecting. I’ll admit I was a little surprised to see the band playing “Popular” during the encore. While it’s still probably their most, well, popular song, I’d never seen them perform it live before and was under the impression that they just didn’t really play it anymore. Kind of like Radiohead and “Creep.” Turns out I was wrong – perhaps its inclusion to the set was inspired by opener Pom Pom Squad’s cheerleader-ish aesthetic? Aside from “Popular”, other highlights of their set included “Always Love”, the mass singalong of “fuck it!” during “Blankest Year”, and “Something I Should Do”, the closing lyrics of which (“Empathy is good, lack of empathy is bad/Holy math says we’re never not together”) definitely resonate as an appropriate message for our times.

Posted on by Paul in Concerts

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