Veronica Falls, Surfin’ USA

March 11th, 2013

Veronica Falls – The Bowery Ballroom – March 8, 2013

(Photo: Andie Diemer)

I should mention up front that no one in Veronica Falls is named Veronica, let’s just get that cleared up right now. But the English quartet has me questioning some of the basic fundamentals of rock geography: Bands out of London aren’t supposed to sound cheery. There’s not much surfing off the British Isles and thus their rock bands aren’t supposed to be “surfy” or “sunny.” In fact, music from across the pond is supposed to be the antithesis of these things, with the folk-rock British Invasion of the ’60s essentially putting the nail in the coffin for California surf rock. This is not to say that Veronica Falls’ sound is anything particularly unusual, it’s just odd to hear an English band that’s so damn good at the rock things we consider quintessentially American.

Touring behind the recently released Waiting for Something to Happen, an album so catchy it hurts, Veronica Falls came to The Bowery Ballroom on Friday night as part of a month of American tour dates. Walking the line between indie rock and charming pop (think the Strokes produced by Phil Spector—with a female lead), there were moments in every song that rewarded careful listening, little nuggets of guitar riffs that wormed their way into your brain to take up permanent residence.

Basic drumming patterns with a seldom used cymbal took a note from the Velvet Underground playbook, setting a simple rhythm for songs like “Tell Me” for shoegaze guitars to dance around. A variety of harmonies worked their way into most songs, soothingly blissful on “Teenage,” a call-and-response on “Found Love in a Graveyard” and even boy-meets-girl vocals on “My Heart Beats.” And spearheading it all was the lead-singing guitarist, the fantastically named Roxanne Clifford, who made it no secret that she was having a great time onstage. —Dan Rickershauser