all words: Shona Fenner
all photos: Katherine Gaines
The Red Palace is quickly becoming one of my favorite venues in the city. I know H street is a little off the beaten track from most of the usual haunts but it is well worth the effort for consistently great shows and affordable drinks. The show on Tuesday night met my high expectations and here I am to tell you about it.
A DC locals Pree started it all off with more instruments than I can name. This four-piece brought out a total of twelve different items producing sound during their set. I had to count all the inventive forms of music-making a couple times to make sure I got them all. Packing up must be some real work for Pree. They perform confidently and effortlessly, picking up a new instrument with almost every song. Their sound is definitely folk inspired, but full drums keep them loud, rockin’ and thankfully not sugary sweet. They definitely have some talent but they seemed to be a little all over the place.
Pree could definitely shine with one of those 8 minute long instrumental songs that takes you on a journey through musical styles and sounds. But as it is they made a great opener and kept us interested as The Red Palace began to slowly fill up. I think we should show these DC natives some love on their upcoming CD release show at the Black Cat on September 13th.
The headliner of the evening is a favorite of the Internet. Memory Tapes is the recording alias of Jersey’s Dayve Hawk. But live they are a trio of dude-babes that performs the typically hazy, dreamy melodies as a rock n’ roll band heavy on the bass. This change sort of surprised me at first but the slightly different live interpretation turned out to sound fantastic. If you are not familiar with Memory Tapes go take a look at the video for “Yes I Know” which is visually mesmerizing and just a solid tune.
Memory Tapes first caught on with the emergence of the chillwave genre but have begun to deviate into something a little different. The songs are similar enough to blend together. But the highlights are evident and the vocals sounded stronger on some of the best songs, mostly from the first release Seek Magic. They played in front of a projected ever-changing kaleidoscope of colors that seemed to fit perfectly with Memory Tapes’ unmistakably cool vibes. Try the “Green Knight” for an excellent example of those vibes.
This was the first Memory Tapes show in DC and I would bet money that the next time you see this name on a bill it will be at a much larger venue. The audience seemed enthusiastic, although most stood stock still all evening, and I saw a number of people leave with a shiny new album. Dayve Hawk is an obvious musical powerhouse but appeared nonchalant on stage and masterfully created soundscapes that seemed to be far greater than a Tuesday night can normally house.