SM PIER — One would be forgiven for thinking Surfer Blood was a West Coast band.
The sweet, pop vibe of their sophomore album, “Pythons,” has all the sunshine and sugar a person might expect from a beach rock group, but with a saccharine undertone that brings the airy tone back down to earth.
The band of Floridians will bring its eastern beach vibe across the country on July 11 to kick off the 29th annual Twilight Concert Series, a string of 10 free outdoor concerts offered at the world-famous Santa Monica Pier each Thursday night this summer.
The series brings a mishmash of styles and sounds to the stage that will alternately have listeners swaying from their sandy seats on Santa Monica State Beach or boogying on the Pier deck. Surfer Blood’s bittersweet Beach Boys vibe marries well with the summery atmosphere, said Martin Fleischmann, owner of Rum & Humble, the company that has produced the concerts for the last two years.
“Surfer Blood is an up-and-coming indie pop band who is not just a great fit with the (Twilight Concert Series) by name alone,” Fleischmann said. “Their upbeat and vibrant music encapsulates that ‘school’s out, beginning of summer’ feeling that one finds all over the Pier this time of year.”
Surfer Blood first took shape in the late 2000s when the band members met after Miami’s Ultra Festival, an electronic music extravaganza better known for its four-on-the-floor party atmosphere than pop credentials.
Founding members John Paul Pitts and Tyler Schwarz convinced soon-to-be bassist Thomas Fekete to join up and start helping them with songs that would later become their 2010 debut album “Astro Coast.” Bassist and backup singer Kevin Williams rounds out the foursome. The original band name: Jabroni Sandwich.
Surfer Blood ultimately replaced that moniker. Within two months after Ultra Music Festival, the band members were already touring, and they tracked and mixed “Astro Coast,” which became a staple on “Best of …” lists of 2010.
“Astro Coast” put the band on the map, but the musicians branched out a bit for “Pythons,” enlisting star producer Gil Norton of Pixies and Foo Fighter fame to help with the project.
The band moved to California to work with Norton, whose fingerprints show up in the complex harmonies and more focused style that differentiates “Pythons” from “Astro Coast” without hiding the band’s innate style under a jaunty boy band patina.
“Gil pushed us really hard on this album, and there are a lot of really awesome harmonies that wouldn’t have been there if it wasn’t for him,” Pitts said in an interview on the band’s website.
In their downtime, they sought out places to surf from Zuma Beach in Malibu to Venice Beach to Costa Mesa, which captured drummer Tyler Schwarz’s heart.
“We are very excited for our next shred destination: Santa Monica Pier,” Schwartz said.
Terraplane Sun, a Venice-based five-piece rock group with country twang, will open for the band Thursday night, bringing a bit of the hill country sound into the big city.
The two bands represent the opening one-two punch combination in what promises to be a Twilight Concert Series to remember.
The 10-concert set leaps across the musical and geographic maps, following the bi-coastal bands with the funky Grammy-nominated Meshell Ndegeocello and later Australian Xavier Rudd.
Although the series has long been a draw for little-known international acts, there’s a marked dose of Los Angeles music in the mix, like Terraplane Sun and No Age, an experimental punk group that will play July 25, or Hanni El Khatib, a singer-songwriter born in San Francisco but based in the Southland.
This is also the first year that concert producer Rum & Humble partnered with both KCRW, a public radio station based at Santa Monica College known for its indie music show Morning Becomes Eclectic, and Spaceland, a hip concert organizer and promoter.