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all words: Andy Hess
all photos: Brandon Hirsch

Truth be told I was weary going into this show. Free Energy are a band that I presumably would love in a live setting, but only had a lukewarm reaction to their DFA debut Stuck On Nothing. Having never seen the band – other than their great music videos – I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Philly quintet. By now you probably either know of Free Energy or know what they sound like. The band has played DC a handful of times and if you spent the majority of your teenage years listening to classic rock radio, you’ll probably hear a lot of familiar bands.

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But they manage to pull off the massive sounding power-pop without coming off trite and cliched. Kicking off their set with “Free Energy”, an uptempo number about cruising around town looking for a party, the band was tight and the guitar licks were plentiful. Over the course of an hour-plus set, the band played a majority of their full-length record along with a few new tunes sprinkled throughout. Immediate highlights include the massive jam “Bang Pop” along with deep cut “Young Hearts”. I don’t know why I doubted this band. I loved this type of music when I was 16 and I still do. This will be the soundtrack of many summer barbecues. It should be yours as well.

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When I saw Brooklyn’s Miniature Tigers open for The Morning Benders in March, they caught me off guard. The show itself was nothing special, but it had been a long time since I had gone to a show without doing some research prior to seeing a band. I went in with an open mind and I left a casual fan. This time supplanted my fandom. With a similar set-list to the March show, Miniature Tigers played 45 minutes of courageous pop music that’s hard not to enjoy. The majority of the set came from 2009’s Tell It To The Volcano and their upcoming record Fortress. Singer Charlie Brand was more playful and less awkward during this show, even jumping into the crowd for an impromptu dance party (complete with a few girls who ran away as Brand approached). That’s too bad for those girls, because these guys are going places.

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DC’s Shapiro might need another listen though. They make music that goes in different directions, but it’s hard to follow after a while. Maybe it was an off night, but they weren’t doing it for me. Which is unfortunate because the elements are there for something great, but some self-editing might help make the music last more than the 20 minutes they played Sunday night.


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