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all words: Shona Fenner

all photos: Cesar Palermo

We all know about “good shows”. You go out and hear some great music, dance around, see some friends, and go home happy. But the opportunity to do all these things and also support the efforts of a local non-profit is rare. The Monument Music & Arts Festival brought two amazing bands to DC9 Thursday night for a one-off benefit concert to support Common Good City Farm.


I’ll get to the music later, but first let me tell you about this impressive urban farm and education center. Common Good City Farm’s mission is to grow food, educate, and help low-income DC community members meet their food needs. Located in the LeDroit Park, this farm is urban gardening at its finest. It provides a place to grow food, educate the community, and help low-income DC residents. Lack of fresh and affordable produce is leading to kids in our community to be overweight and unhealthy. Common Good City Farm is combating that through education and simply getting your hands dirty! The farm’s workshops and programs for environmental stability and health are impressive enough to attract Prince Charles for a visit. Royal visits are a big deal people! Just imagine the crown prince planting a turnip or watering a pumpkin. Common Good City Farm has regular events so be sure to check out how you can get involved too.


The show itself featured two groups of Brooklynites who could really rip it up! First up was Rewards, the latest musical venture of Aaron Pfenning. The crowd was a little undersized at first but soon Rewards had the attention of everyone in the venue. The sound is a combination of retro influence and lush experimental electronic landscapes. You can bet they play some hot shit since the band is signed to DFA Records. Pfenning’s breathy vocals are complimented by fluid guitar melodies rock-solid drumbeats. The band reminds me charmingly of Pulp, with similar sound and likeability. Rewards just have more feedback and I like that. Give a listen to “Two Cardinals” to see what I mean.

Suckers opened their set with a really good one. “Roman Candles” is an energetic dippy tune with a whistled hook, and was my entrée to the band. Hearing this one start us off also started off my foolish dancing session. I promise you it was one for the books. Suckers is a four-piece with strong massed harmonies that teasingly build up to chants or crooning full-bodied guitar. A good example of this mastery of the build up is “It Gets Your Body Movin’”. If you haven’t heard of them before you are missing out. Watch the video for “Easy Chairs” to meet your requirements in Suckers 101.


The set was heavily from the 2010 album Wild Smile, and it seemed like a significant number of the audience were familiar with these anthemic songs. The atmosphere was joyous as their big noise filled the small venue. They didn’t deafen me as much as I expected, and for that I am thankful. Stuffing the layers of instrumentation and vocal harmonies inside those low ceilings had me nervous for a second. They did not disappoint! Suckers even whipped out some live trumpet action making the lively bunch in the audience even more lively. The blend of throaty falsetto vocals, complicatedly rhythmic drums, and spazzy on stage entertainment is exhilarating.


If you want more on these bands then you should check out the eavesdropped interview of Suckers and Rewards that BYT ran last week. Rewards’ Arron Pfenning and Suckers’ Austin Fisher tackle the hard topics of Cadillacs, turkey sandwiches, astrology and assorted cuts of beef. And be sure to keep up with Monument for other stellar events in the future.






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