“Don’t be afraid to dance too hard,” Dustin Payseur murmured into his mic just one song into their set at Slim’s Thursday night – not exactly what I was expecting from the chill wave rockers that Beach Fossils make themselves out to be on their first couple of albums.

But the Fossils proved that they were more than dance-worthy; by the third song, almost the entire mellow, flannel-wearing crowd was grooving, and by the end of the night the entire floor had become a disorderly mosh pit. To my surprise, the band ultimately exceeded the crowd’s intensity, ending the show by destroying their set and instruments. So much for the calm, relaxed concert I thought I was in for.

Still, the band proved their sound to be every bit as tight and tasteful as their first two albums demonstrated. Even in moments of volume and intensity, the band maintained their purposeful restraint. A faster tempo on songs like What a Pleasure and Lazy Days transformed them from easy listening to danceable. Daydream, ironically, was the climax of the boisterous mosh pit, sending the audience into a shoving frenzy that lasted three entire songs and ended with sock-footed Cole Smith raising his guitar above his head and slamming it against the drum set.

Drummer Tom Gardner followed suit, kicking his drum set in all directions and scattering it across the stage. The whole band exited dramatically, feedback still reverberating through the Slim’s sound system.

Quieter moments put the audience into a sort of trance. The band’s most artful moment came with Adversity, each band member taking his turn, creating a beautiful breakdown and buildup, and casting the crowd into a mellow hypnosis. Frontman Dustin Payseur and bassist John Pena, the band’s only members when the band isn’t touring, beautifully wove together their bass and guitar lines into a calming blanket of sound.

Beach Fossils brought with them a youthful energy that isn’t always apparent in their recorded work, mixing a calming hypnosis with a raging dance party in an impossibly balanced combination of mellow and insane. Looking forward to seeing what they do in the future.

Check out a review of their latest album, What a Pleasure EP, here.

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  • stan

    great article Natalie! I will check out Beach Fossil next time they play in SF!!!