“Tonight’s a special show,” lead vocalist Dustin Payseur said at the beginning of Beach Fossils’ sold out show at The Crocodile. I’m sure many artists say this at the start of every show, but Beach Fossils stayed true to their word, pulling out songs they haven’t played live before, and bringing out an audience full of special guests. Payseur went on to explain that his parents flew out for the show all the way from North Carolina, and in addition, their bassist, Jack Doyle Smith, is from Seattle. As a North Carolinian turned Seattleite myself, my eyes darted to the couple in the middle of the crowd that started beaming when the lights shone on them, and felt a bit of southern charm begin to float through the venue, along with the sounds of Brooklyn's beachiest alt band.
Before Beach Fossils took the stage, Ablebody and She-Devils played 30 minute sets each. While Ablebody’s sounds droned towards forgettable, She-Devils captivated the crowd with vinyl samples transformed into fractured dreamy beats. Vocalist Audrey Ann Boucher’s old-fashioned vocals add swells of '60s vibes, creating an enchanting performance with just a set of synths and a mic on stage.
Beginning their set with two oldies, Beach Fossils played “Shallow” and “Youth” back to back before delving into new ones off of their latest release, Somersault. The opening chords of “This Year” immediately got the sold out crowd swaying, not moshing, to my surprise. The audience never reached more than a small roar throughout the night, seemingly intent on giving the band full range of the acoustics, rather than taking away from the band’s sound. As they moved through songs from What a Pleasure and Clash the Truth, Payseur paused during a tuning break, and told the crowd that they were going to play one that they don’t normally play, all because his father wanted to hear it. The drum kit and pieces of piano signaling “Social Jetlag” began, one I desperately wanted to hear as well, making the crowd croon and softly sway again.
While the studio recordings of Somersault are beautiful, the live versions take on a life of their own. “Saint Ivy” has a string trio on the record, which turns into just piano and trumpet live, making an alternative version to a shimmering, orchestral song. On the other hand, “Closer Everywhere” escalated into a full band frenzy, instead of wavering softly into the distance as it does on the album. “Be Nothing” takes a much deeper bass live, almost masking itself as something out of Soundgarden’s repertoire rather than Beach Fossils’ airy style. The twists and turns of Beach Fossils’ live set left the audience dazzled and completely in awe.
“This is a listening crowd,” Payseur remarked about the audience when Beach Fossils returned for their encore set. “I like it. I’m an audiophile myself, and I also appreciate it when people aren’t spilling beer all over my pedalboard,” he said with a smile. They jammed through “Daydream,” which would end up being the final song of the night. From my view on the balcony, I could see Payseur’s parents dancing and singing along to every word. As my eyes moved to the band, Payseur shouted in between lyrics, “I see my parents kissing!” and they weren’t the only ones. Beach Fossils’ sound has a way of being the correct backdrop for anything - standing and listening, dancing or even sharing a sweet moment. Payseur said it would be a special one, and Beach Fossils delivered.
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