Words By Alex Tebeleff, Photos By James Cullum
Growing up in the DC area, I’ve had the opportunity to go to Fort Reno for over a decade. Back when I was a kid, it was a glimpse into a scene that I was only an observer of. It held mythical status in my mind, and for many years, it probably deserved that myth. It was a really important way for really good bands to get themselves seen for the first time, and for the audience to see really good bands in an extremely open communal context.
Last nights Fort Reno featured two bands I had never heard of before, Malatese and Captivators. I went anyway, knowing that Fort Reno is usually a great place to catch good bands I’d never heard before. One show that sticks out while I’m writing this is seeing SPRCSS for the first time at Fort Reno a couple years ago. I was blown away by the way Bob Doto seemed to tap in to his unconscious as his lyrics flowed in a timeless yet focused rhythm. I had no idea SPRCSS was when I went to the show, but I left feeling very affected and a permanent fan.
Opener Malatese from Harrisonburg is the kind of band I’ve come to expect going to Fort Reno. They were dynamic, aggressive, and full of youthful angst. The guitarist traded between angular, tasteful stabs and rhythmic bursts, while the well-rehearsed rhythm section held down a strong, aggressive groove the entire show. On top of it all, the singer spasmatically moved his body with the phrasing of his words, manipulating vocal effects that when used more sparingly were very effective and added an extra intensity to his performance. Occasionally, he’d also add synthesizer, which added another effective dynamic to the band’s sound. The band clearly had their heart entirely into the performance, and you could tell more and more of the audience was focused on the set as it went on.
Captivators closed out the show with a fun and tight set. Ska is a music that is at it’s best live, and although I wish people got up and danced more throughout the set, by the end of it many people were dancing. It’s hard to ask more from what this band did on stage, definitely a pleasant surprise for me as someone who isn’t a huge fan of ska. I was certainly skeptical coming into the show about the line-up for the first Fort Reno of the year, but I left very satisfied with show I’d seen.
With the influx of DIY shows all over DC in the past couple years, Fort Reno really isn’t as necessary as it once was, but last night’s show demonstrates why it is still really important. It’s a place where people of all ages can feel comfortable, safe, and hear some great music. You could tell there were a lot of kids so ecstatic to have the opportunity to see quality live music, and I know it must feel good for parents to bring their kids to a show with great music, where they also know they will feel comfortable having their kids there. Just as important, it’s a great place to catch new music in our community, and that’s a service that a music scene can never get too much.
Arlington’s CD Cellar hosts this bill featuring Noun, a more low-key solo project from Marissa of Screaming Females, and folk punk songwriter Modern Hut, both based out of New Jersey and currently releasing music on Don Giovanni Records. Openers are Northampton/Amherst punk band Derive, DC post-hardcore band Two Inch Astronaut, and Sitcom, a solo project of Foozle’s Jake Lazovick.
Apuesta Por El Rock is a fantastic organization helping to spread the word on Latino rock in the district. I can only hope they continue to keep on putting events highlighting a segment of musical culture that tends to get ignored by the wider music community and music media here in DC. This show features the very psychedelic and soulful LA based quartet Chicano Batman, with Indie Pop band Eastwesthwy opening. Alumbra will be doing DJ sets between, before, and after bands as well.
Local ambient duo Janel & Anthony make a perfect fit as an opener for New England’s Marissa Nadler, touring behind her best album yet.
Lamont Street Collective hosts this film screening on a very important film that everyone who lives in a city should watch. Ellie Walton’s documentary ‘Chocolate City’ explores the changing social climate and dynamic in our city due to gentrification and new development projects.
A really fantastic bill at Rock and Roll Hotel. Pree and Wanted Man (who just released a great new single) are two of my personal favorite bands from DC. Richmond’s Avers make fuzzed out psychedelic rock with a pop sensibility and garage rock attitude.
A local experimental bill from Select DC at Dr. Clock’s Nowhere Bar.
A really wonderful event showcasing Michael Andrade’s fantastic live music photography in DC. For those of you who read last week’s column on documenting the scene, this is what I’m talking about!
Humble Fire performs at this months’ Church Night.
A performance art show featuring local DC performance artists opening for Crotian performance artist Bruno Isakvoic. His piece “Dunuded, “explores physical transformation and the experience of the senses.
Detroit’s Jamaican Queens are one of my favorite bands I’ve had the pleasure of hosting at The Paperhaus. They make a really organic and dynamic blend of musical influences from Trap to Art Rock. Tycho drummer Nitemoves opens with his solo electronic project, along with The UVF Rays, a psych folk project from Ryan of The Sea Life, Go Cozy, and Foozle.
Fort Reno returns for it’s second installment of the summer with Calavera Skull, the always killer Golden Looks, and Peanut Butter & Dave.
NOLA punk band Eyehategod are sure to make this one impossible to get in to unless you get there early or buy tickets in advance. Richmond hardcore band Iron Reagan, Philly metal band Vektor, Maryland grindcore band Strong Intention, Lancaster death metal band March To Victory, and Maryland Doom Metal band Serpent Witch open up this really eclectic mix of heavy punk and metal music.
Though Capital Fringe Fest tends to focus more on other arts, there are some live music performances as well. Heavy Breathing the Dangles, and Mundy make for a really entertaining and engaging live bill.
An all punk bill featuring Detroit’s Touch of North America and Silver Spring’s The Deads. Opener Baltimore’s Multicult brings a more post-punk style to the bill.
Another very strong hardcore bill at The Pinch.
This event actually runs through the next couple weeks as part of the Capital Fringe Fest. This weekend’s performance art pieces based on the myths of Persephone feature Jane Claire Remeick on Friday night and Kunj on Saturday night.
A great punk bill at The Dugout to help benefit Infest. DC punk supergroup Joy Buttons headlines a bill that also features garage punk bands The Sniffs from DC and Young Trynas from Baltimore, and Philly punk band Pinkwash, formally from DC.
Say goodbye to one of DC’s best DIY spaces for many years. I’ve seen some of my favorite shows in DC here, and it’s been an important musical incubator for some of DC’s best bands of the past 5 years including Hume, Buildings, and most recently Cigarette, who are on the bill for this show.
Another benefit to help kickstart Infest, this summer’s DC DIY festival.
Another Fringe Fest live music bill this weekend, featuring Brooklyn synth trio Forma, DC’s own Protect-U who just put out a great album on their own Future Times label, DC’s Nitemoves, and former DC resident and Buildings member Collin Crowe.
Dance For The Dying returns to live performance at Rock and Roll Hotel.
A really fun Americana bill at the Bathtub Republic.
A fun show full of music and fire spinning to help the guys at Casa Girard raise money for a burning man project, which happens to be a Bike Cart Wood-Burning Pizza oven. Yes you read that correctly.
Seattle punk band Nudes and awesome Bethesda punk band Black Sparks make a great fit together at Smash! Records.
The Lab in Alexandria hosts this pop punk focused bill.
Fort Reno continues with Baby Bry Bry & The Apologists, Aloners, and Tiger Horse.
Noise and experimental music hosted by Select DC at Dr. Clock’s Nowhere Bar.
DC’s Isla have been one of the better bands in the metal genre in DC for quite a while. This bill has them paired with black metal bands Mutilation Rites from Brooklyn and Hexer from Philly.