Lightly soaked from a mist of chilly rain, I walked into the 9:30 Club semi-irritated and in the mood to forget about my damp jacket and enjoy the show. Fast-forward an hour later, and I was transported to the shores of a sunny beach in Northern California, swaying to the surf and indie-pop tunes of Cayucas. Hailing from Santa Monica, California, Cayucas is a relatively new band, having just released their first full-length album, Bigfoot, in late April. Despite being a new band compared to the rest of the night’s lineup, Cayucas entered the stage confidently, hypnotizing the audience with their West coast spell.
The setup of the band was relatively small and felt intimate even in a packed house. Cayucas’ stage presence made it feel like the audience was on a low-key bar on a beach. There wasn’t much movement coming from lead singer Zach Yudin’s part and the members of the band seemed to feed off of each other, not necessarily the energy that their songs encompassed. The smooth harmonies of “Cayucas,” the first song they played, had the audience moving in unison like calm waves, completely fitting for the surf vibe that the band gave.
Cayucas seamlessly transitioned into their next song, “East Coast Girl,” blending in the “hey’s” and “oh’s” from one song to the next. Both songs were reminiscent of Vampire Weekends’ slower tracks and maybe it was the same tempo, rhythm, and underlying echo-effect of “East Coast Girl” that sounded so much like “Cayucas,” but I found myself having difficulty distinguishing the two songs from each other. The first two songs had me questioning if all of Cayucas’ songs were going to blend into each other, creating a rather bland and unexciting set.
However when bassist Ben Yudin began to pick away, beginning a slower song, “Will the Thrill,” I noticed a definite change in the performance. I loved the Local Natives-esque vibe I was getting from the soft percussion and dreamy guitar riffs. As I kept my eye on the bassist, I was mesmerized by the resemblance between the bassist and leader singer. It was uncanny, and I realized that they were twins. Mind blown. How hadn’t I noticed? The small revelation I had mid-show was complemented by a new song of Cayucas’ called “Hella.” A repetitive chorus of “hella” was an amusing and catchy homage to the West Coast and had me bopping my head throughout the entire song.
After Cayucas performed their new song, Zach Yudin quickly engaged with the audience and thanked us for being an awesome crowd, diving into their most widely-known song, “High School Lover.” Although “High School Lover” reminded me of “Cayucas” and “East Coast Girl”, its faster pace and catchy chorus kept me distracted from the similarities their other songs had. Cayucas ended their set with “Ayawa ‘kya,” a tune with a slower tempo and amplified bass. It was with this song that the band started to engage the audience more and truly feel the music they were playing. I could finally feel each band member’s energy going along with the song’s downbeats. I enjoyed “Ayawa ‘kya” not only because it was noticeably different from the other songs, tuning into their surf-pop sound, but because I could tell that the band was truly feeling one with their music. Despite the lack of variety in Cayucas’ songs, the end of their set proved that they had it in them to finish off an excellent set. The five-piece band was able to transform the atmosphere of my night with their relaxing harmonies and serve as the perfect warmup–literally–to the high-energy and neon-fueled Ra Ra Riot.