I don’t go to Santa Fe to see shows often. The only other time I’ve traveled there for a show was to see my favorite band for the first time early 2015, and that was at a venue on the edge of Santa Fe, so you can say I’m not familiar with their scene. The two venues I’ve been to there are pretty similar and notably different from Burque places; they’re older and have a more traditionally New Mexican aesthetic, have more seating and there’s a noticeable range of age in concert-goers.
My friend and I walked through a passageway and entered Skylight Santa Fe into their bar. We got our beers and headed up to the top floor of the place and sat above and to the left of the stage. I looked at the crowd and saw the wide range of ages amongst the concert-goers; people in their teens to their mid-40s were all eagerly waiting for the show to begin. The crowd gathered as the first band, Cayucas, began playing onstage but left a large space between them and the band.
Cayucas is a fraternal duo from southern California which is obvious when you hear them. The excellent SoCal lo-fi, surf pop band was joined by a bassist and drummer for their tour. Their calm melodies are fantastic, especially when combined with mellow vocals and a subtle sense of nostalgia thrown in every so often instigated by the distinct surf rock reverb. During their song “High School Lover” lead singer, Zach Yudin, got off the stage and slow danced with an audience member. When he got back on stage he said “I wish I could go back to high school because I’d be crushing it.”
Opening bands aren’t given enough credit. Even more so, the bassists of opening bands aren’t given enough credit. The touring bassist of Cayucas—who I didn’t catch the name of—is so skilled and extraordinary: he could weave in and out of working with the drums and guitar while still being able to throw in solos flawlessly.
During the wait for the headliner, Surfer Blood, the crowd had abandoned the gap between themselves and the stage. The band appeared and began without introduction; the cheerful melody joint with understated, gloomy lyrics and monotone vocals (and occasional shouting) is why people love Surfer Blood. The steady backbeat of the drums was mesmerizing. While Surfer Blood has a calm stoicism vibe, it’s clear that they enjoy being on stage and performing.
The crowd was much more energetic and loud after Surfer Blood took to the stage. I don’t go to many “mellow” rock shows, but it was interesting to see how some of the patrons danced as if it were a punk show instead of a chill California-sound show.
At the end of the night the two bands combined on stage and performed three covers. They all randomly interchanged their instruments between songs so everyone got a turn, but since it was Cayucas last show they got more time. Both bands seemed to have a ton of fun and the crowd did even more so.
During the last song, many of the teens in the audience went onstage and danced with the band. My friend and I left quickly into the cold night as we discussed heathen youth and came back home to Albuquerque.