All words: Farrah Skeiky All photos: Christopher Chen
I believe in the D.C. Party Action Committee Council. That is to say, I struggle to find a better summer night than this bro-down showdown display of stunning DC talent, glittered with trap music, and enclosed in a room full of everyone you love, everyone you hate, and everyone you know. This night was talked up as a party, and it was just that: a party full of the least serious people you’ll ever meet, making the most serious music you’ll ever hear.
While about half of the bands on the bill run in the same circles, the rest are steadily rising and slowly becoming incorporated. The beauty of this lineup was the opportunity to mix fan-bases and introduce different bands to otherwise oblivious concertgoers. Typefighter wowed those who had and had not heard them with a raucous variety of summertime adrenaline that reminds us of high school, but is much more mature than that. Bands who are able to incorporate their influences without sounding like a cover band or parody act are crucial to building and sustaining a local music scene, and Typefighter are working overtime to make that happen. Easily the brightest and most upbeat band of the night, they delivered with apt aggression and plenty of self-depreciation.
I’m embarrassed to admit that this final Warchild performance was my first time seeing them. I had heard tell of Rory Sheridan’s prowess as a master entertainer, and nothing but awe-filled reactions to Allan Chappelear’s expert shredding. But I was not expecting a turnt up, beach party complete with bad bitches with squirt guns on stage. Warchild didn’t just perform, they slayed with the positive power of partying. They literally drew blood as one photographer fractured his nose on the edge of the stage. They presented themselves as an Ocean City band, playing to Seacrets rather than the 930 club. And between the inflatable toys on stage and Jams shorts, the experience was that of a beach town house party gone awry, in the best way possible.
For a moment, a great Danzig cover selection seemed to indicate that Shark Week would belong in the lineup, and even carry through the energy delivered by the preceding bands. The trend of dark to darker to darkest was put on hold when Shark Week announced that if you were there for a killer metal show, well, they weren’t the band for it. Yes, Ryan Hunter Mitchell is an excellent showman (and I’m not sure how he trudged through the set while his onesie was visibly giving him a wedgie). And yes, Danielle Vu outshined every bassist there as the only female musician on stage all night. I’m certain Shark Week fans thoroughly enjoyed their set, and I’m always happy to see DC musicians make good. But they didn’t belong in that lineup, and their performance exclusively served their own fans and interrupted the party. Perhaps a swap in set times would have remedied this.
After another intermission full of Juicy J and Waka Flocka (and I’m certain this is the only time you’d ever hear this variety of hype music over 930’s sound system), Black Clouds proved several things. Primarily, they delivered on the widely-accepted notion that they are meant for bigger rooms. Of the three times I’ve been drowned in this carefully constructed audio assault, this was by and far their best performance. It was a first Black Clouds show for a significant portion of the crowd; many were friends of band members who could no longer stand being the idiots that still hadn’t seen DC’s most promising band (and possibly feared being dead to them). And those first-timers were undoubtedly in awe less than two minutes in. In the scant silence between songs, I was surrounded by a chorus of, “Dude, I had no idea. Holy Shit.”
And the excitement wasn’t limited to the newcomers. For those who were once again supporting their best friends, there were favorite moments (like Neil Fallon of Clutch’s soaring speech in “Santorum Sunday School”), and even the first new song in quite a while, which was perfectly in place with the rest of their set. The members of Black Clouds are continuously improving their craft as musicians and visibly intent on creating an experience rather than simply performing. They’re meant to play bigger rooms than this, and meant to soundtrack more than our summer nights, but they do it anyway. Undoubtedly and rapidly approaching greater success, DC should be proud of Black Clouds and enjoy the luxury of seeing them in our local haunts before a voracious world takes them to faraway places.
- Shark Week