All words and photos by Noorann Matties
This Saturday night, St. Stephens church in northwest DC played host to three local, powerhouse bands; Miyazaki, Ra Ra Rasputin, and Volta Bureau coming together for an all-ages benefit show, hosted by Positive Force DC to support Collective Action for Safe Spaces, a project stemming from the “Hollaback DC” movement.
The deep, Ian Curtis-esque voice of Miyazaki’s Eduardo Rodela started the night off while the audience situated themselves inside the venue, and while lethargic at first, a couple songs into Miyazaki’s set, all chairs had been abandoned, lights had been dimmed, and dancing had broken out among the audience; the electronic; synth-pop extravaganza had begun. The further Miyazaki progressed into their set the more the ethereal voice and keyboarding of Marisa Grotte began to emerge, a strikingly pleasant complement to Rodela’s deeper vocals.
The next band to grace the stage was local synth-poppers Ra Ra Rasputin who started off their set by thanking the organizers of the event and reminding the audience of the Collective Action for Safe Spaces goals; to make streets safer to walk down for women and LGBTQ individuals without fear of harassment.
Ra Ra Rasputin’s set was witness to lively dancing on the part of the audience as well as the band members, lead singer Brock Boss often taking the opportunity provided by dance breaks to leap off stage and party with the audience, flipping light switches on and off to the beat of the music. It was clear the band was having as much, if not more, fun as their audience, band-members often taking breaks from their own instrument to pick up an extra pair of drumsticks and playfully “assist” percussionist Ken Quam at the drum-set.
The band’s set was divided in half by a lively rendition of Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart”, garnering much applause and frantic dance moves from their audience, leading Boss to wryly suggest that maybe the audience enjoyed their covers more than their original songs, but eventually conceding that “a classic is a classic”. Finishing up the lineup was another local electronic group Volta Bureau.
The sharply dressed trio began their set with the eerily breathy intonations of front-man Outputmessage, and while the vocals eventually floated into the more decipherable the set was uniquely lively and danceable. By the time they announced their last song of the night the audience was going all out, as were the band members, ending the benefit show on a high and exhausted note. The night was witness to three incredible local electronic outfits, all excited to play for a cause as well as their receptive, all-ages audience, and as the evening wrapped up organizers were thanked, more information was provided for contacting and donating to Collective Action for Safe Spaces, and finally a sheepish apology from Positive Force’s Pat Walsh to the individuals square-dancing, unbeknownst to the audience, right next door.