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all words: Julian Vu
all photos: Michelle Yass

“I want to see people licking your lips”, declared Dustin Payseur as he and the other three young effectuals known as Beach Fossils opened up an entertaining 13-song daydream of a set. This is probably the umpteenth time that Beach Fossils has come to DC this year, but every time they play, it seems that they find ways to drastically improve. The first time I saw them, the foursome was amidst a lineup transition the likes of which yielded an all-too-straightforward drummer, one whom depended on a borrowed bassist who had been with the band a week at most.

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The time after that, they strangely enough brought their trademark surf sound to the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center, a venue that typically plays host to international artists. Beach Fossils still managed to draw a carefree attitude reminiscent of Schultz’s Peanuts dancing; however, they tended to play sloppier and hide behind excessively hall-reverbed, but more importantly unintelligible vocals.

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This time, things were different. Instead of emanating a cop-out lo-fi and therefore sloppy vibe, they managed to play tighter and control dynamics of their sound to create danceable songs that for once seemed to show a sign of cohesiveness and maturity. Blasting through their 13 song set, Beach Fossils still kept their trademark dancemoves, but anchored them with a super solid set replete with distinctively surfy guitar, pronounced vocals, mid-range bass, and perhaps most importantly: a real drummer with an actual drumset. The newer sound that comes from the same songs unfortunately (or fortunately) lends to the Brooklynality of their sound. Friday’s set had a more post-punk vibe to it, which I and the rest of the show-goers certainly could not complain about. The set closed out with “Two Roses,” perhaps the most danceable of the danceable songs played that night, and despite not playing an encore, the crowd still seemed like they got their worth.

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Local openers the Silver Liners might not employ fancy song structure, but they certainly are the perfect Friday night band, as they have a straightforward balls to the walls attitude that admittedly does a good job of getting the room moving, for being an opening band. I came in during the middle of their set to find decent harmonies and killer hi-hat work. There was a fair amount of audience participation, particularly during the closer “She’s my American Girl.” While the sound is a bit reminiscent of Jimmy Eat World, these guys certainly have their act together, and if nothing else, the bassist looked super happy to be playing, which from another bassist is enough for me to respect this band.

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Touring openers Warm Ghost aimed to create soundscapes that could have been shoegaze, but unfortunately end up being repetitive, and despite being reminiscent of 90’s paper bag beats like Massive Attack and Björk, kind of land somewhere in the realm of blah. Don’t get me wrong, there were certainly moments of sonic washes with luscious analog synth, but the Gary Numan meets sneaker pimps sound that falls around 90 bpm really was not doing it for me nor the crowd. The sound alltogether was great, but the songs itself, mixed in with an apathetic singer would perhaps be better reserved for a night that doesn’t rhyme with “schriday.”

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SETLIST

  1. The Horse
  2. Daydream
  3. Sometimes
  4. Youth
  5. Vacation
  6. Wide Awake
  7. Fall Right In
  8. Moments
  9. What a Pleasure
  10. Golden Age
  11. Distance
  12. Calyer
  13. Twelve Roses

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