All photos by Hatnim Lee: http://www.hatnimlee.com/
Because I was running (un)fashionably late to the we-love-you-DC-and-here’s-proof-that-we’re-not-dead show on Saturday night at the Rock and Roll Hotel, I missed out on the first band Good Night, States. Actually, I might’ve been able to sneak in one or two Cesar witticisms about that band, had a certain DJ whose name rhymes with “pale” had not forgotten to put in a list. Dude, we were emailing all day about this…I was even making vagina jokes! (not my fault! -ed)
I did manage though to cut through the lobby noise of just-turned-21s right outside to catch an earful of what apparently seemed to be a smooth blend of harmonic vocals backed by the strumming beat of a shoegazey guitar, or two or three. Now, if I am off then about this decent-sounding, from-what-I-could-barely-hear band, then eat my shorts and then eat Kale.
Saturday night’s RnR lineup was made up of some of DC’s hottest bands. At the helm was Army of Me, who was named by some austere music magazine or website, I am sure, one of the top (or) best (or) most important unsigned bands in the United States. That, I thought, was certainly worth a listen. But first came Exit Clov and The Dance Party.
Hooray, friends, I finally saw Exit Clov. And like when you learn that Tom Cruise is 4’5” tall or Vince Vaughn is a midget, I was sort of in awe of the small and cuteness of the two ladies. Asian-girl fetish aside, I can see why Exit Clov has and will continue to be the talk of the town. For my money, I’d say that Exit Clov brought back the sounds of 10,000 Maniacs. And I don’t mean that in a bad way, guys. I was a big fan of Natalie Merchant, it was the 90’s, after all. And the musical strength of Aaron, Brett, Emily (adorableness), John and Susan (more adorablenesss) could’ve made a bigger impression than they did, had it not been for the unfortunate sound issue they were dealing; that, and the annoyingly neverending chatter of what I would’ve guessed was a crowd awaiting the zaniness that is The Dance Party. But there’s a reason why Exit Clov is getting noticed and why they have no trouble booking non-DC venues such as Manhattan’s Mercury Lounge and Brooklyn’s Pete’s Candy Store. Exit Clov IS going places. I just hope that RnR’s sound system does them better the next time around.
The Dance Party
This isn’t Dance Party, duders, but THE Dance Party, whose name I had been hearing for quite a while now, apparently here at BYT, we’re batty for these guys. The Dance Party has a crowd, a very loyal crowd, as loyal as beer-guzzling local fratboys and their tiny girlfriends can be before they black out. After my flashback to UVA circa 2000 ala Cesar-is-in-a-fraternal-brotherhood-of-elite-beerdrinkers subsided, I was able to enjoy The Dance Party’s frenetic high-energy punk pop hijinks. And Mick Coogan’s vocals are good, damned good, so good in fact that I began to forget that this type of music often annoys me. What I appreciate most about the act is that all the ridiculous jumping and whacking of air (hiiiaaah!) and hair tossing and sh*t was a-ok in my book, because THE Dance Party is musically tight and gifted and talented.
Army of Me
Frontman Vince Scheuerman spoke softly into the mic between songs, revealing to us that he was glad to be in DC, after a year of tours. I was glad too, and so was the rest of the crowd at RnR. It sounds like the band succeeded in remaining as tight as they were before they took off to spread the gospel of the Army of Me. Scheuerman and his crew sound more and more complex as they continue to grow. But are they starting to also sound more and more Top-40? Yeah, maybe. And are there bits of Coldplay and even Oasis in the songs? Yeah, almost definitely. But you know what, I don’t mind. Cause Army of Me is fighting the battle, the battle between inherent DC ADHD and disillusionment and those talented DC-based bands who will bring us out of this (seemingly endemic) local music void. There are a lot of good rock, indie, hip-hop, even classical reasons why DC should never be overlooked. And Army of Me is winning the war.
I was going to review Cale’s Djing skillz, but then I realized that I kept leaving the room and going upstairs whenever he started spinning. I do remember giving him a thumbs up at one point. I am sure it was for a song that I seriously love, even if Cale only played it for 20 seconds. I love you, Paley Caley.