all words: Shona Fenner
all photos: Aditya Banerjee
I honestly think this marks the earliest show I have ever been to… ever. Doors were at 6 and the opener stepped on around the same time as the dinner rush up the street. Maybe it was too early and I just wasn’t ready to stand back and see a show, but something was definitely off.
The concert Wednesday night at 9:30 Club featured a commendable and timely theme, breast cancer prevention. The Keep A Breast Tour featuring Uh Huh Her was definitely the impetuous that made me want to come out last night, the bands being a close second. Since this is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month it seems fitting to start the first ever breast cancer prevention music tour. The goal is to educate young people and increase awareness for a disease that hits 12% of women in their lifetime. That is some heavy and important stuff. But when they brought a breast cancer survivor up to the stage to tell her story and encourage all us girls (and guys) to pay attention and check yourself the reactions were mixed.
We had hoots and hollers from the young’uns on stage left and mutterings of discontentment on the opposite side. Getting pretty serious in the middle of a show can drastically shift the mood but, I mean come on, we all knew they had to mention surviving cancer and high risks and all that at some point. I am curious how many people even checked out the pamphlets and educational materials in the back.
I am having a hard time not writing in caps on the extremely high levels of gay that came out last night. As one of your trusty BYGays, my gaydar has been finely tuned and cultivated. This show was plain off the charts and ruined that careful calibration. Even the opener Fences brought in some unexpected queer lady appeal to an already lezzie-centered experience. I would be remiss not to remind you all that Leisha Hailey from Uh Huh Her played that sassy bisexual blonde girl on The L Word that everybody liked.
The one and only Sara Quin produced Fences’ self-titled LP. Chances are that anybody reading this is well versed in Tegan and Sara knowledge and doesn’t need any further explanation on why this makes me an insta-fan. Beyond this little surprise, Fences gets the high honor of being far better live than the headliner. Chris Mansfield fronts the band and is impossible to miss. This guy looks like the roadie/bassist for Converge/Atreyu/Alexisonfire/any other band I was into junior year and I LOVE IT. I already have a soft spot for hardcore guys with tattoos that wear winter hats all year and jeans smaller than me, but add in “quiet stories of emotional torment” and I’ve got a boy crush (with some ink jealousy on the side). Watch the video for “Girls With Accents” and I think you can easily get the idea. It is easy to site the influence of Sara Quin in the aesthetic and that just feels good. The songs come across blissful and smooth but with a dark introspective hopeless lyrical vibe. Definitely worth a listen.
Fences played a short set for a depressingly thin crowd of baby dykes. Mansfield asked some obvious questions between songs such as “Are you excited to see Uh Huh Her?” (they were) and “Have you heard of Fugazi?” My overall impression is that the ladies of the audience really just wanted to see some Leisha Hailey and that the young queerios need a lesson in DC’s punk history. Fences’ tag line “Forever Bummed” adequately exemplifies my feeling about the whole evening. I really, really liked Fences (but felt a little bummed and despondent after taking some lyrics to heart) and then was like way totally bummed about Uh Huh Her’s performance.
Listening to Uh Huh Her recorded is far different from this live experience. I am a fan of the clear, sultry electro-pop of the albums I See Red or Common Reaction. But lucky DC… we got a show almost entirely comprised of brand new songs. That did not translate well for an audience of people who knew what they came for. UHH split from their label and it seems the new direction of their music gets me a little bored. They did play “Not A Love Song”, and they played it well. But the rest of the time I got distracted by the goofy guitarist guy, their new drummer, and the myriad of cell phones the entire front row pulled out for photo ops.
The lighting was bad, Leisha Hailey’s mic was barely audible (a shame since people came to see/hear her, after all), and people wouldn’t shut up about The L Word. She must hate the shouts of “I love you Alice!” from the crowd when she is up there with her rocker long hair and AC/DC shirt, trying to do her own thing. But without that five year stint on TV would this band ever have played 9:30 Club? Probably, definitely not! Besides, I’ve already stopped caring who killed Jenny and so should you.
I’d like to invite you to listen to some examples of UHH on a good day: here is “Common Reaction” acoustic and my favorite “Mystery Lights”. The ladies of Uh Huh Her succeeded in stealing the hearts of more than a couple girls. And I really did enjoy the smirking looks to the crowd after each weird catcall, complaint, or declaration of love. I succeeded in making extended eye contact with Camilla Grey so I guess that was pretty good too. All in all the show was a disappointment since I am sure Uh Huh Her can do much better and Fences didn’t get the attention they deserved one bit.