Last Thursday night saw voodoo surf thrashers Sunshine Mind, the proggy serotonin fueled semi-locals Deep Fields, and an angsty Matryoshka doll of chaos and boozy guitars called Secret Garden bring their own very different sounds and concoctions of influences out to Harvard and Stone. From opener Sunshine Mind's sprinkling of screamed vocals that irreverently tear apart any false assumptions of conventional SoCal surf band tropes to Secret Garden's swampy, somber quietness giving way—rather violently—to nervous, sinewy guitar improvisations. And that's to say nothing of Deep Field's brilliant ‘70s inspired Rhodes piano odyssey that set the whole of Harvard and Stone on fire three-quarters into their set. Sunshine Mind ripped through groovy and pummeling (yet still very surfy) tunes with gusto. Think Misfits if they traded in corpse paint for plaid and California "good vibrations". Singer Henry Lopez peppered in energetic screaming vocals to break up melodic "ooh-ahh" lines that never let you get too comfortable in your expectations. A menacing undertone permeates their more-aggressive-than-your-average surf pop songs, torn apart and reassembled with ‘60s voodoo menace.
Next up were the brilliant Deep Fields hailing from Orange County. Their lush songwriting and layered piano accompaniments is a shot of serotonin to the proverbial arm of Harvard and Stone. Kaleidoscopic, Rush-reminiscent arrangements and a genuinely fun energy pulses alongside ‘70s Rhodes piano lines that are at once elegant and yet bursting like rays of light shining down on grooving flower beds of vocal and guitar melody. If 12-string electric guitar and Rhodes piano don't make the most pleasant sounding musical combination, I don't know what does. Secret Garden finished out the night with a set of swampy, troubled, mercurial jams laced with a "fuck-it-all" ethos. Singer Dani Evans was full to bursting with gravitas as she commanded a strong stage presence both fearless and fierce, going from skate punk ferocity to genuinely somber moments of singer-songwriter affectation. Ultimately, they got cut off early (and not entirely without reason) but this band—and Evans especially—has some serious heart. - Andrew Mendoza