A heavy odorous mixture of vodka, unwashed bodies and marijuana fills the air. Welcome to Toronto’s Dundas West, where Beach Fossils play a wild interpretation of their strung out second album Clash Of Truth released on Captured Tracks, Feb 19.
The band had a tough formation, originally imagined by Dustin Payseur through a DiY-solo-bedroom-project. Thus Beach Fossils was born. It went on to endure a revolving door of other members gearing up to play live as a full band (including fellow Brooklynites, Zachary Cole Smith of DIIV and John Pena of Heavenly Beat). The current quartet was eventually solidified for the sophomore release. Smith, who started DIIV after playing drums and guitar with Beach Fossils has mentioned, “It's funny to think about the two projects being linked in that way, because to almost every single person who has listened to Beach Fossils, there's no actual connection.” Mmm, right Zachary, aside from you mimicking their entire aesthetic, there really is no connection.
Anyway, keeping the dream pop/ shoegaze-y textures of past releases, we can’t miss the heavier drums and addition of tooth from Payseur’s post-punk sensibilities. While Beach Fossils’ oeuvre may be overly unified to a fault, sounding as if you've heard the same song again and again with little variation, it does little to affect the dedication of the fans that welcome the sense of repetition.
Beach Fossils took on the Garrison with no indication that such turbulent waters of changing members had been swum; playing a tight, yet wreck loose set. Beloved new additions like title track “Clash Of Truth,” and “Generational Synthetic,” immediately engaged audiences of revolting youth.. twentysomethings are still categorically considered ‘youth’, right? Regardless, it didn’t seem to be enough for frontman, Payseur, telling the crowd, “Feel free to move around a lot more."
Fashioning songs, “Youth” and “Shallow” to be more up-tempo for live performance, the crowd obliged to appease the band’s suggestion to heighten their energy. Evidently Payseur needs to ask twice though, ending a rendition of “Taking Off” by saying, "Even though it's a Wednesday and it’s shitty outside, you can still move around a lot more. I believe in you."
His persuasion affects the crowd this time with a palpable weight; moshing attitudes are kick started unlike earlier in the set. Somewhere between “Burn You Down” and “What A Pleasure”/ “Twelve Roses,” those who had been somberly swaying towards the front had transitioned to rowdy and rambunctious, taking turns stage diving as Payseur and band mates looked on with a grin. Many began playing a game of what I like to call, “bowling for hipsters” with their bodies as the favored choice of projectile.
It was around this time that Payseur metaphorically changed his tune, admitting, "You guys are fucking fun." Unfortunately, a hop and a skip and an encore later, and the band were offering their thanks coupled with a goodnight. I offer a personal thanks to whoever decided to wear cologne near me. You probably saved me life.
In conclusion, while Beach Fossils may belong to the wider, not-so-respected, cool and collected surf pop/shoegaze camp of Brooklyn aesthetically (which is not everyone’s cup of tea), they pull it off rather genuinely, and in such a way live that viscerally ignites the freedom of human revolt. In other words, seeing them live makes you want to smash into other people, in a way that is exhilarating and sincere. It makes me very much want to believe Payseur when he says, “You guys are very sweet. We'll come back soon.”
- by Michael Natale