LiveDC: Tanlines @ Black Cat
Erin | Dec 4, 2012 | 12:30PM |

by Erin Holmes and Courtey Pitman — Photos via Chris Chen’s 4/13/12 set

The “She Said / She Said” reviewing Dream Team is composed of concert friends Erin & Courtney. These two serendipitously met en route to a Local Natives show in fall 2010 and have since traveled to many a show together, developing a deeply-rooted love for DC’s music venues.

Here they’ll attempt to translate their typical, PBR-fueled post-show banter onto paper to share with you and the interwebs. They’re no experts, they’re just like you. And your weird friend.


CP: Indie electronic duo Tanlines didn’t take the mainstage at Black Cat until almost 11:40pm on Friday for what turned out to be a shockingly bright (literally!) evening, and a bouncy homecoming of sorts for percussionist Jesse Cohen. Cohen, the impassioned voice of the band, chatted happily with the sold out crowd of supporters while the actual voice of Tanlines, bandmate Eric Emm, probably spoke less than five words despite singing every song. It was a refreshing change from the typical frontman-dominant shows, and the fresh-faced crowd in attendance didn’t hate it either. Seriously though, there was a strange dearth of beards for a Black Cat show.

EH: Tanlines transported a fun, unique energy to the standard, bare-bones, Black Cat experience. What made it so unique? Maybe it was the array of colorful lights they brought with them, or the amount of dancing that occurred, or how I felt I had time- traveled to a Flock of Seagulls concert. Or a John Hughes movie. Or something equally 80s .

But much like the actual 1980s, the night’s setlist had its share of really high highs and then somewhat-forgettable lows. When they were good, it was like “THIS IS MIND-BLOWING”… When they weren’t, it was like “Well, it’s really hot in  here.”

CP: This is actually a pretty accurate metaphor for my, well, mixed emotions for their Mixed Emotions LP, which I guess makes sense because their live show played through most of the album. A knowledgeable coworker had sent me standout track “All Of Me” in early March, which was released as a second preview single for the group’s first full-length endeavor. Along with a link to the song was a short note that simply said, “Here’s the initial early return for song of the year.” Nine months later that statement still has legs, and it was an unsurprising highlight as the closer to Tanlines’ first set, with a funky 1+minute intro before bursting in to the irresistible euphoria of the synth- and clap-laden chorus.

EH: “Brothers,” the preceding single to “All Of Me,” ignited a jolt into the set. This song similarly stands out on the album.

CP: Also worth noting: their inventive video for “Brothers,” a 360-degree panoramic shot of Emm and Cohen chilling out, maxing and relaxing all cool in an apartment and sort of playing instruments / singing / watching TV / ordering delivery food. But the way-nifty part is that the video offers an option for user-interactive zooming and panoramic scanning.

Anywho, along with “Brothers” and “All Of Me,” the other clear highlight for my night was “Not The Same,” a more hollow jam that considers evolving into a club banger before settling back down into a tortured vocal winner for Eric Emm. Ultimately Tanlines’ live set mirrored the low points from their album though… where the songs start to blend together (see: almost the entire back half of Mixed Emotions) and I get out my iPod to restart the album from the beginning, because “All Of Me” never gets old.

EH: With the comparisons we continue to make to the album, I want to mention that I thought their live show sounded slightly different from the steady track list, with Eric Emm’s vocals intimately laid atop the duo’s ferocious drumming and electronic rhythms. Invigorating energy surged through to the dancin’ feet of those in attendance. It was also a great date night activity, apparently. Women were holding men, men holding women, men holding men.

CP: …And Erin and I were holding our notepads and pens. Bottom line is that Tanlines can create a mean earworm and their variety of pop served for a pretty idyllic evening at Black Cat.

EH: While the amazingly enthusiastic participants served as an all-around divergence from the typical Black Cat “intently stand and listen” clientele. Or perhaps I’m just going to the wrong shows at Black Cat…


Wrap-up: Brightest and dimmest moments

• AWESOME light show at Black Cat! Didn’t know it was possible. [CP]
• “Green Grass” was SO GOOD on Friday and has to be my pick for new favorite Tanlines song after hearing it live. [EH]
• The girl we met who attended and equally loved the same previous three shows as me (11/25 Of Monsters and Men; 11/29 Pearl and the Beard; 11/30 Tanlines).
#KindredSpirits. [CP]
• I think I saw a mini conga line travel through the crowd during the infectious percussion of “Real Life,” the night’s closer. [EH]
• Synchronized dance moves all the way in the back, in front of the door, ostensibly because there was more space there. I dig it. [CP]

• Acoustic encore performance of “Rain Delay,” an otherwise riveting track, was a bit of a snooze. [EH]
• Way too many people left before the encore. Sure it was nearing 1am, but they should have been taking advice from the sagacious voice of our generation and making the most of the night (like they’re gonna die young.) [CP]

•Not music-related but IT WAS SO HOT IN THERE. Uncomfortably stuffy. Even Tanlines’ Jesse noted he was sweating too early and too often. Not the most amazing dance party conditions. Good thing we all powered through!! [EH]