LiveDC: Beach Fossils @ DC9
Paula Mejia | Mar 5, 2013 | 1:00PM |

The arms-crossed-across-the-chest generation was nowhere to be seen last Friday at DC9, where the upstairs was jam-packed to capacity for Beach Fossils. The kitty-cornered stage, amiable crowd and strangers dancing together made the sold-out set feel more like a basement house show instead of a staunch venue gig.

The foursome’s sophomore release Clash the Truth features a crisper studio sound, thanks to production work from fellow Brooklynites The Men’s producer Ben Greenberg. I was concerned that live, Beach Fossils would resound a bit too fine-tuned on the cusp of promoting their latest. Mostly, I was worried that they would exclude the spontaneous jangles and thick guitar lines that made their eponymous debut reverberate so poignantly in our hearts.

My preconceived notions quickly dissolved as Beach Fossils took the stage, bursting into Clash The Truth’s title track. I can’t recall the last time I saw a band so genuinely psyched to be performing, which I realize sounds basic, almost silly. But how many shows have you been to where the band refuses to interact with the crowd, performs as though sleepwalking? Or drills holes in the ground with their eyes to avoid making eye contact with their fans?

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Stand-up comedian Baron Vaughan makes his Kennedy Center debut as part of the Bentzen Ball Comedy Festival. Vaughn is a series regular on Netflix's Grace and Frankie in the role of Bud. He was also on USA Network's Fairly Legal (2010–2012) and has appeared in the films Black Dynamite, Cloverfield, and The Other Guys (Deleted Scenes). As a comedian, he has performed stand-up on Conan (twice), Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Showtime's SXSW Comedy, and Comedy Central's The Half Hour. He's the self-proclaimed "Master of Festivals," most notably having performed in the HBO U.S. Comedy Arts Festival (Aspen), Just for Laughs Comedy Festival (Montreal), South Beach Comedy Festival (Miami), Moontower Comedy Festival (Austin), SXSW Festival (Austin), San Francisco Sketchfest, Bridgetown Comedy Festival (Portland), Vancouver Comedy Festival, Accidental Comedy Festival (Cleveland), Chicago Comedy Exposition, JashFesht (Palm Springs), Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival (TN), and Bumbershoot Music and Arts Festival (Seattle). Vaughan's recent comedy recording, Blaxistential Crisis, is soon to be released by AST Records. Please Note: This performance is recommended for mature audiences. Performance Timing: 75 minutes, with no intermission.
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Not only did Beach Fossils treat the crowd like a group of friends, effectively breaking the divide between performer and audience, but thrust themselves entirely into attuning their instruments to produce the highest quality sound. Chords were fluid, guitarlines tight and bass lines were meaty. Frontman Dustin Payseur, skittish and bouncing about the stage with nervous energy, spurt vocals pained and pure into the microphone, even inciting a mosh pit during “Youth.” Payseur sported a denim jacket with the new album’s artwork patched onto the back, which would be shameless self-promotion if it weren’t such a compelling image for an equally as compelling album.

The recent addition of full-time drummer Tommy Gardner to the band’s lineup handsomely rounded out the already-sharp instrumentation. The effect, in turn, was far less jangle than you’d hear from either studio album, and Beach Fossils’ previous punk-rock roots clearly peeking through the surface. The usually sunny “Twelve Roses” crackled with distortion and angsty affect, and Clash The Truth standout “Caustic Cross” seared with Payseur’s impassioned admittance of defeat, “beating my head on my hands.”

The foursome nicely balanced performing from both of their albums, interchanging the songs frequently. Although even if one wasn’t a diehard fan, it was pretty evident that the tracks performed from Clash The Truth came from a more shadowy place.

“Man, this has been so fun,” breathed a beaming Payseur into the mic. “We want to perform again, anyone got a house show we can play at later?”

I almost offered up my house, before remembering my neighborhood’s staunch noise restrictions after midnight. I sincerely hope someone managed to romance Beach Fossils into a late-night set in a cramped-but-cozy living room, among the company of friends and shimmering guitars.