What Fruit Bats singer Eric D. Johnson described as Santa Barbarans’ permanent stage of “stokitude” was out in full force for their Friday show at SOhO. Celebrating the release of their new album, Gold Past Life, the band appeared just as jazzed as the audience. Like dynamite, the musicians exploded in an effervescent set. With every creative guitar solo, bouncy keyboard flourish, and excited glance at a bandmate, it was obvious the group enjoyed performing their new collection of music in front of an ultra-receptive audience. Like a sponge, the crowd soaked up the striking new songs, such as the rollicking “The Bottom of It,” the groovy single “Gold Past Life,” and the stomper “A Lingering Love.”
This was also the first show where the Coterie Club, an event-driven pop-up dining experience, led by talented chef Nick Bodden, partnered with SOhO to create a preshow multicourse dinner and beverage pairing. Making excellent use of the patio, the club set up a long rustic table decorated with peonies and greeted guests with champagne and fresh oysters upon arrival. The dinner stunningly presented the best of S.B. produce. Highlights included candy-sweet heirloom tomatoes, layered with olive tapenade prosciutto and orange zest, and succulent short ribs. Of course, any menu that begins with oysters and ends with a cheese plate will forever have my affection.
The vibrant dinner set the tone for a night of continued sensory expansion full of new songs and old favorites. Fruit Bats’ classics, such as “Humbug Mountain Song” and “When U Love Somebody,” seemed infused with fresh energy and had the crowd dancing, swaying, and singing along. Although Gold Past Life feels nostalgic, with their contagious glee, smart songwriting, and dynamic performance, it’s clear they’ve hit gold right in the present.