Photos By Miranda Hontz, Words By Leon Hontz
What started out as a nostalgic exploration of punk music fundamentals erupted into a thunderous performance interspersed with bits of protracted existential wanderings. Beach Slang, and openers Title Tracks, put on a complex but undeniably satisfying show Monday night at DC9.
Title Tracks opened up their set by rifling off some simple punk numbers that brought me back to my days playing Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater (the original) in my parents basement. Their first show of 2015 started with the band working through some of their older songs, which sounded fine, but were ultimately unremarkable. The band seemed unethusiastic at first which was likely the result of the band knocking off some of the rust from their break in performing. After Title Tracks started moving into their newer work, they began to come alive. The musicians were visibly more eager to be playing the new and varied compositions that they have been developing over the last year. The turn in the set was well received by the crowd and brought back to life.
Beach Slang’s set was more complex than a Lars von Trier movie and often as perplexing. The band knows how to entertain and are dedicated to creating a high energy performance that is absorbing until they step off the stage. From half front-man/half wrecking ball James Snyder to drummer JP Flexner’s wildly expressive face, Beach Slang is a band that seems to be in a loosely bridled state of euphoria during their entire set. Their energy is palpable, amplified by the shouts of their fans that can be heard joining Snyder during his more emotive moments. The contents of the songs can seem a bit melodramatic, but when the show is one gloriously exuberant dramatic gesture this feels honest and appropriate rather than grating.
Beach Slang’s show is equal parts punk explosion and vaudeville variety act. In between fighting to sing through a face full of hair, or “wet angel hair pasta” as Snyder more appropriately framed it it, the front-man would launch into impromptu lessons on morality or whatever concept bubbled up to the front of his mind. If he ever got too far off track, the rest of the band would redirect the heaviness with lighthearted jabs or their own eclectic humor. These unpredictable and hilarious interstitial moments were a satisfying, often odd, and frequently hilarious break between Beach Slang’s leave-nothing-behind musical performance.
Had Snyder not been wearing the ill-informed argyle sweater/tweed jacket combo that he sported (in August folks) on stage Monday, he still have been drenched in sweat; Beach Slang’s performance is that dynamic. When Beach Slang finally stepped from the stage, they left a crowd full of wide eyed and buzzing people trying to piece together the wildly entertaining madness that they were a brief part of Monday evening at DC9. Beach Slang is touring across the states through November.