all photos: Jeff Martin, all words: Svetlana
One of the best things about the ALL THINGS GOLD series (which All Things Go curates in collaboration with the record label Neon Gold and which normally happens on a mid-monthly basis in front of the very packed U Street Music Hall) is just how good the taste level involved is. In a sea of buzz bands out there (and, yes, it is ok to shudder at the phrase) they, month in and month out, do a terrific job of editing out the just-OKs and putting in front of their willing audience really the things you want to dance to. The past year has seen everything from Niki and The Dove, ANR, Yuksek, Penguin Prison, Alex Winston, Summer Camp play rare or first-ever DC shows in front of kids who just lap it all up. And up again.
With a packed room every month, it only seemed fitting to move the party a few blocks up the street to a bigger venue and offer some of their favorite acts a chance to play at the venerable 930 Club. Friday night saw a super-stacked marathon edition five band bill featuring French Horn Rebellion (at 9-playing for about 50-100 people), Vacationer (at 10-playing for 150-200 people), POP ETC (aka “the band formerly known as the Morning Benders” playing at 11 for 600 people), The Knocks (aka “BYT’s favorite party band of the last 12 months” playing at midnight for a 1000 people) and finally RAC (playing at 12:45am for a packed house)
Now, there are advantages and disadvantages to this scenario. The great news is: these are all good bands, and while none of them necessarily have the sell-out-of-930-club power yet, together-they basically did that. The not-so-great-news is: you know, standing for 5 hours at a show is hard. I know this makes me sound old and whiny but it is ALWAYS in the event’s interest to keep things moving and snappy and with 5 bands playing almost regular length sets, you run into some pacing issues, especially if some of the opening acts, while great and earnest are really not quite equipped for holding the audience’s attending for 45 min. Come out with 20 min of your best stuff out there, makes us remember you and then ramp it up next time (because, with all of these acts, there will be next time, I promise). FOCUS.
Having said that-it was a damn fine time. French Horn Rebellion kicked things off in their genre-hopping, beat heavy, often hilarious manner that makes it a shame they were relegated to the low-in-attendance spot. Vacationer toned things down a little, with the sort of sweeping pop that is better for hand holding most of the time than dancing (though bonus points for extreme enthusiasm for well, SIMPLY BEING THERE), and then it was POP ETC’s turn.
You may have heard that last year Morning Benders (aka Julian Harmon, Jon and Chris Chu)changed their name out of respect for the LBGT community to POP ETC and used this as an excuse to go in a slightly more genre hopping direction, though, as the new name suggests-they keep things mostly in the appointed-by-moniker category: lyrically a little melancholic but still as poppy and dancey (in a softer/not-quite-raging-yet mode that goes over well in the earlier portions of the evening when you’re warming up) and Chris Chu still has the lanky confidence on-stage that is a result of the extensive touring the band has done.
Afterwards, and with a nicely warmed up audience-it was The Knocks that turned the temperature in the club (as they do) up and up, with the 1000 kids present jumping, screaming, throwing beach balls around and whatever other stuff kids at dance parties do these days. Jeff, who is the #1 Knocks fan ever, told me to “Be sure to mention how they played B-roc’s Transplant II mixtape after the knocks tape. This is significant for many “die-hard” Knocks fans (if the world permits such a thing) in that this was their introduction to B-Roc’s amazingness before they formed The Knocks a year or two later. ” – and so I am. Basically tho-writing about The Knocks is like dancing about Architecture-you sort of need to be there and you need to have your hands up in the air and that is the end of it. They put on one of the best parties you’ll see at a show and if you haven’t experienced them live yet-you should… and I am just as happy to report that it translates just as well in a big club like 930 (booming sound is always a bonus) as it did in a small/sweaty/packed room @ RNR Hotel when we saw them first, opening for Ellie Goulding a while back.
I am now going to commit the cardinal sin of show reviewing and admit that I went home to pass out shortly after the RAC set started (I know-feel free to crucify me in the comments) but from what I did see, the boys completely lived up to their Remix Artist Collective moniker and kept the jams going fast and hard. If there is any justice in the world, that whole room should have woken up sore as hell the next day. That’s what marathon dance parties do to you.
Well done you guys and here’s to another, even bigger and better year ahead.