When you think of skaters, you think baggy trousers, pot smokers, thrash metal fan as opposed to cardigan-wearing, singer-songwriter types who have a knack for singing about the weather and the seasons.
Matt Costa had a lot of time to ponder such things from his Huntingdon Beach home after breaking his leg so badly three years ago, it forced him to quit as a pro and enter 18 months of rehabilitation. Luckily he was only 20, and therapy included six strings and a four-track machine, resulting in a demo which found its way to Jack Johnson via No Doubt guitarist Tom Dumont. Dumont assumed production duties while Johnson took Costa under his wing on tour in 2005 and on his Brushfire label, culminating in Costa’s well-received and very likeable debut, Songs We Sing being released earlier this year.
Costa has had fairly restricted exposure in the UK, and despite an opening slot for Johnson six months ago, the Academy’s glistening spaces and Carling indoctrination serve a half full floor this evening. Thankfully there is plenty room to breathe, and good air-con, as waiting is something we will do a lot of.
The support band manage to pathetically lose the audience after one song by taking aeons to tune their equipment, then mess up their second song. Rehearse boys, rehearse. Then proceeds the longest set change in the world, ever (previous record held by Lenny Kravitz, Wembley Stadium, 1999) prior to Costa. I could’ve knitted a jumper and played myself at chess twice. At least they played some Pixies on the PA.
Costa and his backing band procure the stage like an Abercrombie photographer’s dream – firm grins, plaid shirts, modest denim. Like Easyjet, Costa is no frills and we certainly get what we pay for with a steady show that never really raises or drops in altitude, or speed.
Costa’s voice is milkier than on record, where it is much more tender and lonesome. This comes across in his persona tonight with many a smile, eventually opening up his fans who seemed to have forgotten how to react after such a long wait. Behind The Moon’s grisly folk leanings certainly help them remember.
Astair and Sweet Thursday’s intrusively warm pop sensibilities give Costa a spring in his step. He urged us to start line dancing as things took a Southern twist, egging his bassist on to show us the fabled “Texas two-step.” He flatly refused at first, before succumbing to give an amusing demonstration of the “Shopping Trolley’s” moves.
Between these very few moments, there was just more waiting room time, filled as Costa toiled country, blues jams and a solo segment. A Buddy Holly cover and his upcoming single Sunshine could do little to brighten up what turned out to be one long night. Pot and thrash metal? Yes please.