Semi-last minute update: If you haven’t heard by now, Virgin FreeFest, the only nationally-respected festival this city had, is not going to be returning in 2014. I’m sure details will emerge as to the why’s and how’s, but it’s really saying something that “our festival” was scene as a net negative for Richard Branson, who is too handsome to ever be wrong.
But something needs to fill that void.
Maybe Trillectro is another huge success and they can continue their exponential growth rate? Maybe All Things Go’s Fall Classic (featuring Future Islands and Bear Hands and Panama Wedding and US Royalty) will sell out like crazy and it will open up Union Market as a viable space to build something around? Maybe 9:30 Club should fill the power vacuum, take a risk, use their immense clout and put together a festival that would put Waynestock to shame. I know it’s the longest shot, but it secretly makes the most sense. Their talent bookers know the bands that are going to be big ahead of time, “The 9:30 Festival” practically sells itself out, and you could easily call in favors from the likes of Dave Grohl to make everything as awesome as possible.
Rant over. Pray this happens.
This Thursday begins In It Together Fest!
Mainly assembled by Hole in the Sky’s Mike O’Brien and the guys from The Dougout, it will be “a four day celebration of underground art, music, and activism at all venues propagating independent culture through the District of Columbia. Empowered by the hope to build a community amongst disparate DIY spaces, we’ve come together to foster participation, encourage new idea,s and highlight the under-appreciated.”
It’s built some pretty fantastic buzz already, and it’s now such a hot topic that only 48 hours ago, BYT editor Brandon Weatherbee asked if I could make the Aural Fixations column for this week all about bands performing in the festival. So, to show my solidarity with all those that are In It Together (and to justify the DC flag I have tattooed on my body), I’ll be writing only about tunes from bands that will be performing at some point or another this weekend. However, since there are a seemingly infinite number of bands on the bill, instead of just writing up 3 songs like usual, I’m going to try and touch on as many as my semi-informed brain can think thoughts up for (and if you want a full music guide to the festival, DC Music Download has you covered)
Now onto the music!
- Sleepy Kitty – “Don’t You Start”
Sleepy Kitty is a great band from St. Louis consisting of the bombshell singer/guitarist Paige Brubeck and drummer Evan Sult, who is somewhat known/worshipped by yours truly for being the drummer in Harvey Danger (the best band you’ve never given a chance to). I actually got the chance to hang out with Paige and Evan before a show they did at The Dunes (RIP) a few months ago, and they’re as absolutely genuine as it gets. They tour hard, they design their own stuff because they run their own print shop because of course they do, and they really care about their music. That genuineness bleeds through in their music too, an aggressive take on the female-fronted fuzz rock genre that also isn’t afraid to get pretty or melodic if the mood calls for it.
If you want to know more about them, the interview/write-up of that show at The Dunes is right here via All Things Go. They’ll be playing The Beehive at 2pm on Saturday.
- ACME – “All Around The World”
Speaking of interviews, I still pride myself on being one of the first journalists to ever get to really know Che Brown and Josh Davis of ACME, and as they continue their musical evolution, i selfishly think that that relationship is going to pay off huge dividends. Between their unique take on pop, their hooky melodies, their unassailable style, and their courage to think and play outside the box, these guys are destined for greatness.
They’ll be playing Friday at Ft. Loko at 10:20.
- The Public – “Liquor Store”
I came across this song thanks to DC Music Download’s previously-mentioned great playlist of bands playing the festival, and “Liquor Store” just feels like the kind of song I’d want to hear if I was going to a giant DIY festival. Right? Just enough punk to make you feel cool but just enough melody to make it enjoyable. While not as good as Less Than Jake’s “Liquor Store,” I can definitely get behind this.
They’ll be playing Saturday at St. Stephens at 5:30.
- Paperhaus – “Helicopters”
The band behind the man behind the scenes, Paperhaus is the band of Alex Tebeleff, someone who I’m sure was involved in this weekend in someway and a living legend in the DC DIY community. He’s too humble to ever search out praise and he’ll probably never get his proper due for what he’s done to help the independent music scene in this city, but he deserves a round of applause and full crowd when Paperhaus plays Friday at Ft. Loko at 9:45.
- Brightside – “Jetpacks”
Brightside, and especially “Jetpacks” has an I-wish-I-could-quit-you charm that I wish I could quit but I just can’t. Their album opener, “Next Time, I’ll Be Deadly Serious,” which actually is a bit more serious, does make me feel better about liking this band so much though. In fact, these Pittsburghers could have a bright future if they keep honing their sound.
They’ll be playing Saturday at St Stephens at 1:45.
- Two Inch Astronaut – “Swol”
They’re from the DC area and during their best songs, they’re trying to bring back a 90’s-esque, quirky but still aggressive rock sound. I didn’t need to know much more before I jumped on their bandwagon. My guess/hope is they’re an album away from making their more melodic, more math rock album and it will be awesome.
They’ll be playing The Dougout at 9:40 on Friday and St Stephens at 1pm on Saturday.
- Mike O’ Brien
I used to work with Mike back during my soul-sucking marketing job days, and while I consistently wondered why no one else thought it was weird that Red Bull or Coca-Cola was giving us tens of thousands of dollars to do “experiential marketing campaigns,” that we thought of while high at happy hour, Mike was always the graphic designer who I could count on to keep me feeling sane. He would turn in tremendous work, but you knew he knew this was all a big joke. And because marketing pays really well, it’s given him him the freedom to help build Hole In The Sky up to a place of real prominence in the DC region. If you haven’t been to an event there, and even if you have, I highly suggest swinging by sometime.
Like on Friday from 7-11, when they’ll be hosting a massive art show that you can learn more about here.