Sun Room @ Hollywood Theatre, Vancouver - November 13th 2023

Live Review: Sun Room + Surf Trash @ Hollywood Theatre, Vancouver – November 13th 2023

Sun Room, a band who describes themselves as “some friends from Southern California who like to surf & make music out of their very hot garage” touched down in Vancouver Monday night to fill up a very Gen Z crowd with surf rock sunshine. The group is in the middle of a prolific tour in North America and Australia, with Aussie counterparts Surf Trash in tow. With such crossover between SoCal, Aus and West Coast culture, there seems to always be an appetite for surf rock here in Van, and Sun Room pulled a modest but highly enthusiastic crowd. A band miraculously forged during quarantine times–born out of vocalist and guitarist Luke Asgian noodling in his bedroom–the foursome has been releasing a steady stream of singles and EPs ever since. They’ve picked up steam in the last two years, putting the work in as openers on a number of tours. They launched their first headline tour this fall, promoting the release of their third EP, Outta Their Minds, and have since dropped two new singles, all of which we heard blasted live on Monday night at the Hollywood Theatre.

Surf Trash opened the show, revelling in their first visit to Canada, despite all being minors in the country. The group is made of 15- and 18-year-old brothers Nick and Andy Scott and their buddies. The group dons a heavier edge to their garage rock vibes and despite their age and relative inexperience, they delivered their performance with skill and energy. Andy was particularly impressive, beating the skins on the drumkit flawlessly all the while pulling off punk-tinged vocals across their entire set. While their age comes across in the lyrics, they certainly have a knack for putting together a snappy, disenchanted rock song. They shared some unreleased tunes with us alongside brand new singles “Spice It Up” and “Seek the Silence”, revealing how silence can be more powerful than noise.

Waiting for the main act to take the stage, I asked myself, “Is there room for another surfy garage band in our hearts?” They certainly have their aesthetic down, with a name to inspire very trendy art for their merch, along with their visually delightful colour-blocked sun-themed backdrop. As they took the stage, Sun Room quickly proved that they’ve got the goods across their high-energy set.

The guys started off with a poppy little tune, structured and polished with a retro feel, the drum and guitar playing a call and response. Pulling in heavier doomier elements but creating levity in oooh-ing choruses, the young lads showed that they certainly knew their history. Each member has been said to incorporate separate musical influences to the group–“Luke Asgian bringing a central surf sound, Max Pinamonti bringing 70s classic rock and 80s new wave, Ashton Minnich bringing metal…” They were giving off a prom-band-in-a-teen-movie vibe; any casting director in attendance here in Hollywood North would surely give them the part. Their unique style came out strongly in their new single “Cut My Hair”, which takes a 50s doo-wop intro into hypercharged 70s punk aesthetics, getting the crowd grooving hectically.

“We almost didn’t make it through the border today so we’re extra excited to be here,” Asgian laughed off as he addressed the crowd before sharing more fresh tunes. The guys picked up the 

pace for pure angsty garage crack “Kaden’s Van”, chanting the credo, “No job, no pay, don’t need it anyway!” getting the crowd hopping. Sticking with tunes from the stellar EP Outta Their Minds, Asgian continued to share, “I bought an old beat-up car that broke down all the time, so I wrote a song about my local mechanic shop.” The crowd was screaming before he could even get through the story, and they went on to belt lyrics along with clear hit-in-the-making, the vintage gem “Sunset Garage”. From Beatlesmania-esque display, Sun Room moved fluidly into a grungier sound in their next track, with echoes of Kurt Cobain haunting Asgian’s authentically off-tune vocals.

The band kept the fun going, Luke announcing that “Max has officially learned to say the alphabet backwards. He’s a little nervous, but he’s going to try it for you,” and recited it he did with a tremor of trepidation. “We’re so proud,” Luke joked. They gave a little nod to their musical roots playing the intro to the classic “Surf Rider”, which melded into their next tune. Standing in the shoes of icons from the 60s and 70s, the lads are putting their own contemporary spin on the genre and invoking their own point of view. Tidbits from The Beach Boys’ back catalogue or Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life” bubbled up in glimpses throughout the set, all the while pulling out some very creative drum features, wandering basslines, and scrubalicious guitaring. 

Reaching the end of the set, Sun Room pulled out all the stops, playing popular grooves like “Sol del Sur”, a track that could easily fold into any summertime playlist or slip seamlessly into an indie movie soundtrack. Encapsulating their laid-back ethos with “At Least I Tried”, the band managed to radiate slacker energy while whipping the front rows into an excited mosh party. An organic-feeling encore of “Cadillac” absolutely shook the house down. Sun Room will be heading on down the coast next, back to terra cognita, and taking their repertoire of garage party rock in their musical wake. Sunshine joy awaits anyone who chooses to check them out in their merry way.

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