Wildhoney at DC9
I think of Wildhoney's music as "pretty psych". Some of the elements of psychedelia are there: reverb-drenched vocals and soaring guitar solos for example. Yet somehow most of their stuff is upbeat and light, just flirting with darker emotions. Consider this: they have a song called "Horror Movie" and it's actually incredibly perky! Must be written from the slasher's point of view. They always seem to be having a good time.
Getting back to the music, Wildhoney have been labeled "shoegaze", most notably by themselves on their Bandcamp page. Fair enough. They certainly do have a lot of pedals and do spend some time looking at them. It is possible to zone out to parts of some of their songs and they aren't super energetic on stage, though that blonde guitarist went kinda nuts at the end of their last song. The thing is, this just isn't downer music. If shoegaze was a 90s thing then their music is like the 80s alternative rock which preceded it. Still endowed with that upbeat New Wave influence. Aware of the existence of depression but not currently feelin' it.
Tenement at Black Cat
I've joked about bands with three fuckin' guitars before but I do not recall ever seeing a band with three tambourines. Yeah, that's right, three fuckin' tambourines, plus the bassist flailing all over the place, just constant motion on stage. Except maybe when they're tuning. Tenement don't sound like your average punk band but the energy is definitely there.
I should mention that all of those tambourinists played another instrument (keys, violin, sax) and sang backing vocals as well. It's the type of band which probably explains how I ended up without any musical talent. Must be there's only so much to go around.
Anyway, Tenement have a reputation as a pop-ish punk band. Their first album reminds me of Against Me! more than anything. Like many punk band they've developed a more "sophisticated" style now that they've "learned to play their instruments" and brought some country and classic rock influences into their music. They're kind of like Lee Bains III and The Glory Fires without being so blatantly Southern (admittedly a rare quality among bands from Wisconsin). Shoot, once in a while they even play a ballad! As long as they keep the energy up though it is good stuff.
Black Masala at Black Cat
Black Masala threw one hell of a party, and somehow I'm not shocked that I missed it until now.
See, one of the problems with being into rock-n-roll is that there is a lot of it out there. I can easily go to a rock show every night of the week. I don't because a lot of is too bland and I do have be awake at work and all but I could do it. This makes it easy to miss all the other good stuff. I hadn't caught Black Masala before, hadn't caught Orchester PraÅ¾evica (whose guitarist joined them to sing a song), rarely get to Bossa or Marx Cafe. Ah well, now I have been enlightened.
I'm not deeply familiar with Balkan music or even jazz so let me tell you what this sounds like to my inexperienced ears. It sounds like Swing more than anything else. It's music for daaancin'. Of course some chords, some rhythms sound vaguely familiar, perhaps from catching "gypsy punk" bands like Amour Obscur and Gogol Bordello. In fact they covered the latter at this show, two songs I think? Not that Black Masala claimed to be "gypsy" (which is probably a good thing). Rather, I suspect that some of them are affiliated with DC's Jazz scene. They probably have their experimental bands. Black Masala is their fun band.
Cinema Hearts at DC9
DC doesn't really have much of a garage rock scene. While there have been attempts to get something going (I recall a "garage showcase" show at Green Island about a year back) there isn't really a community of fans of old-school rock, soul, proto-punk, etc. Too bad, because there are garage bands and some of them, like Cinema Hearts, are really good.
Like many bands these days Cinema Hearts started out as a bedroom recording. So yeah, there's a GarageBand scene in DC but no garage scene. On the plus side at least the bedroom music scene has some diversity, from classic singer-songwriter pop to goth-flavored dance music. Cinema Hearts add a lot to that list: 50's doo-wop on songs like "That Boy" and "Don't You Tell Me". Soulful rock-n-roll edging into Dum Dum Girls territory on "If You Go" and "Our Constellation". Even a WWII-era jazz ballad or two. "I'll Always Be Around" would make a lonely Joe cry, I betcha.
Moon Duo at Baby's All Right
I do not recall ever buying three albums by a (current) band before catching them live at least once until Moon Duo. I have KEXP to that for that. Unfortunately they don't play DC very often. So while I did have to travel all the way to NYC to see them play a 1:30am show I finally got to see the two of them perf... wait, Moon Duo is a trio now? Ah yes, one of the many reasons why naming bands is hard. But I guess that sort of thing happens. Did you know that the Beach "Boys" are all grandparents or dead at this point? True fact!
Maybe they should tour with Gang of Four so it balances out?
Anyway, Moon Duo sounded great. I'm not sure that it is a compliment to say that they sound just like their albums but, well, if that is what they were going for then they succeeded. I'm glad they didn't speed up their songs live like a lot of rock bands do. Their music may have the repetitiveness and soaring guitar solos of psych-rock but it's also anxious music, especially songs like this one. The looping keyboard rhythms give it a quality like EDM, if you can imagine EDM being translated back to normal rock instruments. And yes, there were some people dancing to it at the show. Definitely not stoner rock unless the stones in question happen to be crack.
Moon Duo brought their own projections which sure made taking pictures a lot easier. I was wondering if any of it would look familiar but nope, I don't think so.