Words By Morgan Fecto, Photos By Clarissa Villondo
It’s kind of hard to fuck up your show when your music makes the crowd dance like children, and your demeanor makes them want to suck on you like a candy. Beach Week, Title Tracks, and Swearin’ played an evening of solid Rock ‘n’ Roll last Monday to snow encrusted concert-goers at the Black Cat that can only be described with one word: humility. No. Strike that. Two words: Sex appeal.
Beach Week (because the name “seven days of binge-drinking Burnett’s book-ended by mini golf” was too long) is the DC surf-pop band of sisters Kate and Jill Miller. The adorkable duo played songs from their EP Teen Dreams & Beauty Queens, which drummer Jill initiated before guitarist/vocalist Kate was ready, perhaps to drown out her attempts to make small-talk with the sparse crowd. “I’m not good at this banter thing,” said Kate, who also reminded the audience that their EP is available… “Where can they get it?” The answer from Jill: Spotify and iTunes. The Millers definitely didn’t outplay the White Stripes or the Dixie Chicks (No? Just me?) but their catchy surf-rock made me bob and forget momentarily about the snow mounds.
With a voice that can sound like Billy Joe Armstong’s and a face that can look like Philip Seymour Hoffman’s, Title Tracks’ frontman John Davis and the rest of the band kneaded my lukewarm feelings for them with their performance. I didn’t think much of Title Tracks before the show–their quaint, pseudo-triumphant rock songs left me with the same pleasant disgust as a stale Oreo (or the band’s typed out set list). Nevertheless, the DC threesome’s enthusiasm during their set of power pop softened me. When they spoke, they were appreciative of the crowd and of their co-performers. When the played, they glistened with the sweat of an honest night’s work. It was hard to not get behind the unaffected members of Title Tracks, or to reject the mantra of Top 40 fans (and Oreos fans) everywhere: if it makes your ass jiggle, it can’t be bad.
Swearin’s performance, however, gave unaffected a whole new meaning. Not only did the music sound phenomenal, from hits like “Kenosha,” to lesser-knowns like “What a Dump,” (a song inspired by street harassment from an early demo of the same name) but the Brooklyn twee-punk band was both entertaining and likable on stage. After opening with “Young,” vocalists/guitarists Allison Crutchfield and Kyle Gilbride discretely tuned their instruments, and someone from the back of the crowd yelled “You guys sound good!” Crutchfield smiled. “I thought he was going to yell at us for tuning.” Crutchfield, twin sister of Katie Crutchfield of Waxahatchee, closed her eyes when she sang, at times flailing her arms like an adorably possessed baby-doll. Bassist Keith Spencer snapped a string in the middle of their set, but Gilbride launched into a solo performance of “Echo Locate” while Spencer found another bass. Every member of Swearin’ gave me lady-wood in their own special way, but none more-so than Gilbride–from his Husker Du t-shirt, to his Wayne Coyne vocals, to his playing a guitar with a drumstick, to the way he stooped to hear my whispered request for their setlist before handing it to me and scampering off stage. If I had been worried about my brimming fangirldom (I wasn’t), I had no further to look for validation than to the flock of barely-legals singing and jumping in unison behind me or to the bespectacled male loner drumming on his legs next to me.
All in all, Monday’s show turned an otherwise snow-covered turd of an evening into a wonderful memory. Now if you’ll excuse, I’m going to go write in my journal about Gilbride’s saliva.