all photos: Julia Benton
Let me begin by stating a fact- this show was THE BEST I have seen at the Black Cat maybe ever. It was cosmic (that’s not just the whiskey talking).
Kuroma is a band fronted by Hank Sullivant, a man with a ton of music in him. I had no idea who this guy was until I looked him up before the show to discover he toured with MGMT, was the founding bassist for The Whigs, and even spent some time as a producer. Needless to say this is an impressive resume for an opener. Kuroma played for a sparse crowd and, to me, they had the potential to be totally glam but just didn’t have the drive or budget. Their sound is psychedelic inspired but the more poppy songs just make me wish Hank Sullivant was wearing a glittery body suit with feathers instead of a t-shirt.
This group would definitely appeal to fans of MGMT. Kuroma has a sound that alternates between pop, glam, psychedelic, and just plain rock. The band has something for everybody without putting on any airs or trying to benefit from their frontman’s illustrious music past. During their set I couldn’t take my eyes off their drummer, who played with big, bold movements and basically kept the sound together on his pink drum kit. My only critique is that each song dovetailed off the last, making the music flow well but not giving us any fun conversation or even recognition that the audience was there bobbing along.
Stardeath and White Dwarfs definitely stole the night with their cosmic show and sound. I have never seen such showmanship from an opening band. It seemed that the audience, myself included, were all immediately converted into wide-eyed fans. These boys definitely know how to put on an impressive performance. I honestly never thought that Oklahoma City could spawn a group like this! Their stage performance included a smoke machine and a seizure-inducing light show, along with an eccentric and florid sound that makes you wonder how much acid these guys have taken over the years. The tripping motif is even stronger with the addition of their singer, Dennis Coyne, in big white furry boots and a black t-shirt with long white fringe down the arms and back.
Stardeath and White Dwarfs’ connection to The Flaming Lips is easy to hear in their music. This connection is strong since the singer is The Lip’s frontman’s nephew. Plus their involvement with The Flaming Lips on the 2006 remake of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon is just plain awesome (Henry Rollins and Peaches collaborated too… INSANE).
During the show I felt like the band relied heavily on a combination of vocals and the rhythm section. It was obvious drums were key when they were setting up and brought out TWO kick drums and then sound checked the bass at a very high volume that made some people in the front put in their ear plugs. Their drummer played so hard he broke a stick! While these elements prevailed I would not say anything else fell short. Halfway through the set the guitarist broke out a see-through guitar and showed us some expert level head banging through the thick fog of the smoke machine. I really can’t give enough accolades to these stellar performers.
You may have heard Stardeath and White Dwarfs even if you think you haven’t. Their song “I Can’t Get Away” was featured in one of those Urban Outfitters mixes and they played Pink Floyd with The Flaming Lips at Bonnaroo this year. Their sound is like The Doors with the addition of synth sounds and a pop mentality. I would recommend going and listening to “Smoking Pot Makes Me Not Want To Kill Myself” or “New Heat”.
By the time Tame Impala was setting up The Black Cat was a little more crowded, but not nearly as full as usual. We had space to move around and from the first song everybody in the front was moving. All the good psychedelic vibes showed through and I didn’t stand still for one minute of their hour-long set. This four piece band of super-skinny shaggy haired guys from Perth, Australia all came on stage barefoot and left a big space in the center of the stage. They didn’t have lights or smoke but nobody cared, we just wanted to hear the music. They played twelve songs and when I looked around a couple times I saw people doing everything from swaying with their eyes closed to bouncing and chugging a PBR.
Tame Impala’s album Innerspeaker made up the majority of the set. Most of the vocals were hard to decipher if you did not know them already, and whenever singer Kevin Parker spoke to the crowd we all just heard an Australian accent and some mumbling. He usually sounds a lot like John Lennon but live his voice got lost in the rest of the music. This did not really faze me because the reason that I like Tame Impala in the first place is the lush, multi-dimensional sound that is a spiral of guitar and power chords set to a hippie-stoner vibe. This band is simply amazing classic psych-rock and deserves to be on heavy rotation for all of you people.
Tuesday night’s show attracted a wide array of people and we all experienced Tame Impala’s first ever concert in DC. The crowd around me was remarkable. I got to listen to a guy in a “mustache rides $1 hat” hit on some underage girls for a solid 15 minutes (he completely blew me off when I offered him 50 cents to see what half a ride was like HAHA), watch some neo-crunchy types hippie dance like we were outdoors, share in some free booze from a generous stranger who appeared to my left a few songs into the set, and then finally some drunk bros appeared behind me and danced harder than everybody else.
As far as I am concerned Tame Impala’s anthem is “Solitude Is Bliss” and it has a fantastic music video to boot. Other songs that were a hit last night that you should check out are “Desire Be Desire Go” and “Remember Me”. This show totally delivered a sensory experience that is hard to find on most rainy Tuesdays and I was grinning all the way home. A+