Puff Pieces at Rock N Roll Hotel
There seems to be a tradition of non-traditional punk in DC and Puff Pieces are very much a part of it, though their musical DNA might just include the band DNA as well. Puff Pieces's music is like rock performed by people who are in shock, or at least stunned by something (the world around them?) The singing is barely inflected but sounds distinctly worried. An anxious, almost mechanical guitar backbeat on most songs heightens the sense of paranoia to a point which is almost comical, or at least absurd (shades of Modern Times perhaps?). The lyrics, though, cover typical punk topics such as gentrification, the excesses of the greedy, and our over-medicated society. It just doesn't sound the least bit typical.
Not that they sound similar but Puff Pieces remind me of Protomartyr. Both bands need a couple of listens before you really "get it". Both bands are in clearly the intellectual/political universe of punk but are doing something more original musically. Oh, and it's hard to mosh to either one. Gee, between that and the backbeat Puff Pieces might just be an alt-Reggae band too...
Melon Farmers at The Sidebar
Melon Farmers are a Reggae-inspired band, not a Reggae band, which is an important distinction because (I believe) there are no mosh pits in Reggae. I can't even imagine a Reggae mosh pit happening unless somebody smoked the wrong thing. But there were definitely mosh pits at this Melon Farmers show. Not all of their songs are ragers, some of them are mellower, but sometimes the crowd did mosh.
This and the Canker Blossom set from before were my first photosets from The Sidebar in Baltimore. It's a dive bar with dive bar lighting. Protip: get a newer camera. This is exactly the situation where it would be nice to underexpose my shots and then push them 3-4 stops but older Canon cameras are not so good a that. Maybe someday...
Canker Blossom at The Sidebar
Canker Blossom are the funnest band I found since moving to DC. So yeah, here are some photos of them again because I keep going to see them. The lights were turned down for this set so the photos kind of suck but oh well. See the next photoset for some decent photos from The Sidebar with colors and so on.
This show was the release party for "Gooner", an album they put out in 2013 and forgot to throw a release party for. Any excuse for a party, right? They also released a "special edition" of Gooner which is burned on nicer CD-Rs than the original, has artwork on the cover, and also has a cover. Apparently back in 2013 they just handed people CD-Rs. This is what DIY is supposed to be, people.
Sløtface at DC9
I was expecting something a little different from Sløtface. Having never seen them before I read a couple of reviews before deciding to go to the show and more than once those reviews decribed them as a punk band. Now, Sløtface are certainly high energy like a lot of good punk bands and the songs are nice and catchy. The show was a blast, no question about that. However I have to disagree with anyone who calls them "Punk" (or God forbid "Garage-Punk"). Honestly, these days lots of Pop music sounds like this. I can imagine Miley Cyrus covering a song like "Pitted" (though she wouldn't and shouldn't). So catch Sløtface while they're small before a big label grabs 'em up 'cause that is exactly where this is going.
Weakened Friends at DC9
Lead singer Sonia Sturino's voice reminds me of Gwen Stefani's. Even I think that's a weird comparison. There is not a hint of ska or pseudo-hip hop in Weakened Friends' music but somehow the comparison feels so obvious. That's who she sounds like, if Gwen Stefani sang rock songs.
Weakened Friends' music is defined by its sense of urgency. Not that the band sounds particularly aggressive. Noone would mistake this for punk. It's just that they sounds vital, like they really care about what they have to say. I can imagine a singer-songwriter type performing some of their songs acoustic, emphasizing the lyrics and the emotion, but I prefer them as they are: catchy rock songs with feeling.
Their band name, on the other hand, is a pain. It is impossible to spell without backspacing at least once. Believe me, the wrong form of
WeekendWeakened is just too easy to type by accident. Ack!