All words: Shona Fenner
All photos: Haley Plotkin
I think Black Cat’s Saturday night show would have been best through some instragram-y filter. Better yet if each audience member could hangout in the comfort of their bedrooms, truly being able to dance as if nobody was watching. The classically hipster, but no less enjoyable, element of nostalgic sound made for sets full of mixtape and potential movie soundtrack gems. With bands from California and NYC the night gave us indie pop from coast to coast. Black Cat’s crowd was a bit more rambunctious than you sometime encounter, dancing in semi-circled groups instead of standing still with arms folded. Folks were generous as well, giving neighbors enough room to move. What nice people we have in DC! I found myself slowly scooting up close to the stage as batches of friends in front of me unclasped hands and went to the bar for some refreshment. Even without pushing and shoving the crowd of enamored fans sold out the venue and I heard more than one attendee label themselves as “obsessed”.
Part Time’s set was the first to get the crowd to move, coming at us after local DC power pop band Dot Dash. Part Time played songs from his 2011 release, What Would You Say? a couple of which sounded oddly like classics I had never heard before. “Cassie” is a great example since it sounds like the background music to shows like Skins or some other program where all the highschoolers are played by people in their late twenties wearing dayglow and taking their relationships too seriously. Okay… that’s more of a soundtrack tune for the movie of me lately.
Part Time’s sound is like Ariel Pink meets Toro Y Moi, or any one of the cavalcade of other young bands who are enchanted/enchanting us with new wave influences. Filling Black Cat with this much disco pop generated a strange, doped up energy. I noticed couples slow dancing during both Part Time and The Drums sets, and didn’t roll my eyes even once (okay maybe once when I turned around to find a heavy makeout session during The Drums’ “Down By The Water”) ! We can blame the collective fascination with glossy 80’s tunes on the fantastic atmosphere. If you are still curious about Part Time’s music check out this video for “Living in Pretend (My Girl Imagination)”.
I found the dance moves of The Drums’ frontman Jonathan Pierce the best part of the show. He is the boy next door version of Morrissey in his stage persona, less of an enigma and more of the grooving in your kitchen while making breakfast for dinner variety. Suddenly the association between The Drums to The Smiths I had seen online made sense! I found myself drawn closer in proximity and my opinion raised higher the more Pierce looked like Steven Patrick Morrissey. Maybe I’m obsessive but his/Moz’s style worked.
The similarities carry over to their music as well. A new-wave inspired (think New Order) bouncy sound paired with occasional intense lyrics set The Drums apart. You wouldn’t expect to hear lyrics like “…you were my best friend but then you died” in the summery sweet song, “Best Friends”. They played this song pretty much right off the bat and while the lyrics are a little bit of a downer, it brought the audiences’ spirits up quickly. I looked around to see heads and hips shaking in the front and in the back of the venue. Most of the time The Drums give us easy jams, with uncomplicated and incredibly relatable lyrics such as “I want to buy you something but I don’t have any money” from my favorite song, “Money.”
The Drums show in DC kicked off their North American tour, which is sure to be sold-out each night. Pierce gleefully told the audience that the members of Chairlift had come to see the show and was all smiles when one of the girls from the band ran on stage to sing along with a chorus (I have no idea which girl it was since all I know about Chairlift is that song about knees, and strawberries, and whatnot). The band played numerous of songs from the new album, Portamento, and I was surprised to find that people knew these ones just as well as the early favorites. It was an energetic show that gave me the boost to stay out until last call, a highly unexpected turn of events.