For the past year now, Charleston’s Makeout Reef music collective has been making power moves to revitalize the city’s music scene. Since they were first formed in December of 2015, MR’s popularity has increased exponentially through the success of bands such as Del Sur, Mr. Rosewater, The Camel Blues Band, Tall Kitchen Bag and Hot Showers. On top of that they have brought in a number of bands from outside Charleston to play at their Elliotborough house/venue, also known as Makeout Reef. Needless to say, it has been a great year for the gentlemen of The Reef, which includes College of Charleston students Michael Collier, Tyler Sim, Jesse Kieve, Chance Laufman, Colin White, and Ross Teder.
The long year of organizing shows, writing and recording songs and getting new projects off the ground culminated into Makeout Reef’s biggest event to date this past Saturday at the Redux Contemporary Art Center on St. Philip St. Not only was this Makeout Reef’s biggest venue to date but they brought in local favorites Tape Waves and surf swingers Summer Salt from Austin, Texas to fill in the space. And they actually did fill it. The warehouse-style performance space was sold out and crowded throughout the three and a half hours of music from Tall Kitchen Bag, Tape Waves, Del Sur and Summer Salt. While there was of course a large draw from the promise of Summer Salt, arguably the most popular band that the Reef has booked thus far, just as much of the lure to Redux came from the fact that this was the last Del Sur concert until at least next fall. Given that this was one of the few times that Del Sur and Tall Kitchen Bag have gotten to play in a larger space, the sound was fantastic and showed off just how genuinely talented these guys are at what they do. Tyler Sim’s blistering keys solo on Del Sur’s “Been So Long” has never left so many jaws hanging open as it did on Saturday night. As Del Sur went into their last few songs, you could feel the air in the room change just slightly. While the same lighthearted, sun tinged vibes that a Del Sur show inherently brings were still present, there was a bitter sweetness to the moment. Portions of the crowd started singing along and lead singer Michael Collier leapt into the mass of people, still playing his reverb infused guitar as groovy as ever. No one seemed particularly sad in the moment, but as the fuzz died down on the band’s last number there was this consensual “Damn…” moment that rolled through every ear at Redux. Granted, this is not the end of Del Sur, but any extended period of time without one of their shows feels like an eternity to the Charleston fan base that they have cultivated.
On any other night, Del Sur’s mammoth performance would have been the perfect closer. But after the hometown heroes finished, Charleston was blessed with one of the most
exciting up and coming bands in America: Summer Salt. Summer Salt is a tropical relaxant, the auditory equivalent to sitting in a hammock and drinking a Corona on the beach on a 75 degree morning in May. They combine the musical stylings of The Beach Boys, Real Estate and Brazilian bossa nova behind the caressing, jazzy vocals of singer Matt Terry. Everything down to bassist Phil Baier’s pineapple emblazoned shirt seamlessly fit into the Reef vibe. Newcomers to Summer Salt were hooked from the first words that Terry smoothly sang into the microphone, and the bands acquainted listeners (whom Baier referred to as “Salt Shakers”) were endearingly singing along with him throughout the band’s set, albeit not half as charmingly. The band alternated flawlessly from their signature butter smooth, laid back surf sound on tracks like “Driving to Hawaii” to rocking out to ignite hair slinging dances from the crowd with “Going Native” and “Summer Salt”. They also played two new songs, on one of which featured drummer Eugene Chung’s stank faces thanks to his outlandishly wicked swinging. At what would have been the end of Summer Salt’s set, the crowd managed to sway the band into performing an extra song, and the band obliged with “Sweet to Me”, which drummer Eugene Chung said the band had not played in about a year.
It was a fitting end to the night at Redux. On one of the coldest nights that Charleston has gotten so far and amongst the stress and looming presence of final exams at the College, the good folks from Makeout Reef were able to organize a show that elated the sold out crowd up from the world outside of Redux. Summer Salt absolutely killed it, putting on one of the best concerts the city has seen all year, as did Tape Waves, who are continually proving that they are a force to be reckoned with in the Charleston music scene. But in the end, the Dec. 3 show at Redux was about Makeout Reef, coming within days of the collective’s one-year anniversary of the first show they ever put on. The Redux show is a testament to what they have accomplished over the past year by making Charleston musically important again and filling the city with some of the most talented groups it has been able to lay claim to. And yes, the Holy City is going to miss Del Sur dearly for the next year, but MR has firmly established that the other bands that make up the collective are not to be taken lightly and never cease to get a crowd moving. Makeout Reef has done more than bring Summer Salt to Charleston or put out consistently stellar music: they have made Charleston a great place to be a music fan in year that seems to have taken so many good things away.