Surfaces “Good To Be Back” tour concert review


Rowan O'Flanagan

The band Surfaces performs on stage at Jannus Live in St. Petersburg. Surfaces is made up of singer/guitarist Forrest Frank and musician Colin Padalecki.

Rowan O'Flanagan, Opinions Editor

I first heard the band Surfaces when most of the world did, during the doldrums of the hard lockdown in March 2020 after their song “Sunday best” had just gone viral. With nothing better to do, I decided to check out their recently released album Horizons, and was pleasantly surprised by its positive vibe and upbeat rhythm.

My friends and I sometimes joke that once you know one Surfaces song, you know them all; their music has a homogenous feel, and it’s easy to confuse one song for another. Listening to Surfaces is a fundamentally easy experience, requiring minimal thought and pairing well with tasks like doing homework or going for a walk. Yet that didn’t stop me from playing Horizons on repeat and jumping to buy tickets when I heard that Surfaces was playing a show just across the bay.

The Good To Be Back Tour stopped at Jannus Live, an outdoor venue in the middle of downtown St. Pete, on Wednesday, Oct. 20. The venue doors were set to open at 6:30 p.m. so, fearing rush hour traffic, my friends and I left Tampa around 5 p.m. and parked in a parking garage which have been more convenient — it was barely a block away from the venue and cost only $2 for about five hours. 

We got there between 45 minutes and an hour until door-opening, and a line the length of the block had already formed. Hoping to secure good spots in the general admission concert, we joined the line, which continued growing behind us around the corner and down the length of the next block. 

An hour or so later, security wanted us with a metal detector and made sure we weren’t carrying food or drinks, scanned our tickets and marked our hands with Sharpie “X”’s to show that we were under 21, and we entered Jannus live.

Immediately, I was impressed by the venue’s almost European feel. Jannus Live is essentially a large courtyard surrounded by quaint apartment buildings, with a stage set up at one end. Unfortunately for us, the buildings blocked the coastal night breeze, making it feel considerably hotter inside the courtyard than it had along the street. As the night went on and more and more people packed into the courtyard, the heat bordered on oppressive, detracting slightly from the overall experience.

Though there was a merch table set up selling T-shirts and posters, my friends and I decided to skip it and claim a spot for ourselves only a few rows of people from the stage. We stood there for about an hour until the first opening act, singer/songwriter Public Library Commute, began his performance. The crowd swayed along to his mellow, summery melodies. Though no one in my vicinity was screaming the words, they did seem excited, waving and throwing up heart signs.

After Public Library Commute played for about 30 minutes, we waited 45 minutes or so until the second opener, singer Verzache, came on stage. By that point, the venue was packed from wall to wall with people who had spent the last three hours standing outside, and were collectively a little tired. Nonetheless, myself and my friends all managed to bounce along to Verzache’s set, a high energy collection of songs which I’d never heard before. 

Finally, after another bout of waiting, Surfaces ran on stage and began performing their song “Hideaway.” Immediately, I remembered exactly what I’d spent so long waiting for. The band, just a few dozen feet away, sounded almost identical to their recorded songs. As the crowd jumped up and down and sang along, the communal joy was palpable. The air might have even felt a little less humid as I danced along to the music.

Only about an hour after they came on stage (an atypically short length of time compared to every other concert I’ve been to), Surfaces announced they were playing their last song, “Wave of You.” They left the stage, returned for a brief and exuberant encore of “Sunday best,” and the concert was over.

If given the opportunity, I wouldn’t hesitate to go to another Surfaces concert or another show at Jannus Live. Regardless of any minor inconveniences or complaints, singing along to some of your favorite songs with thousands of your closest friends is truly an adventure, and I look forward to similar experiences in the future.