Slothrust at Rock N Roll Hotel
I've seen Slothrust many times over the years and they have always sounded too spot on to be playing such dingy venues (the Trash Bar, really?) It's like "Hey, these guys are actually good, what are they doing here?" As I recall they're all music school grads and thus far more competent than the competition at that level. Fortunately for my sense of propriety Slothrust have kind of broken out in the last year or so and are now playing to hundreds of fans at lovely venues like the Rock and Roll Hotel.
Even better, or maybe worse, they seem to have developed a cult following in DC. People have been singing along to their songs for a few years now and there seem to be more of these amateur vocalists at every show. One guy was wearing a Britney Spears T-shirt with multiple Britneys on it which reminded me of this (though it actually has more to do with this). Slothrust seem to have tapped into something and it's weird, man. Personally I just like their music because it's catchy while also having with some serious oomph and clever lyrics on top of that. It's like a delicious musical layer cake of some sort.
Tancred at Rock N Roll Hotel
Jess Abbott of Tancred has undergone prehaps the most complete metamorphosis from bedroom folkie to grunge goddess that I have ever seen. This simply is not what she sounded like a few years ago. Plus there's, well, a band with her on stage now. But her musical themes still tend towards the personal, sometimes confessional, sometimes slice-of-life storytelling. Lots of "I" and lots of "You" in Tancred's music. It's just that now You and I are backed by catchy guitar hooks and the occasional straight up rocking out.
Diarrhea Planet at Brooklyn Bowl
You like guitars? You like rock? You like guitar rock?
You like diarrhea? You haven't read my or anyone else's previous reviews of this band? Well then let me be the first to tell you that this is totally the band you're looking for.
Red Baraat at Brooklyn Bowl
I'm quite certain that Red Baraat invited three and only three people on stage to dance with them. I distinctly heard them say "three". They got more volunteers than that, a lot more. See, a Red Baraat show is already a total party. When you give people the chance to show off their moves on stage, having spent the last hour practing on the dance floor, quite a few of them are likely to be up for it.
Congratulations to Brooklyn Bowl for making it to their eighth year anniversary and for having such excellent and diverse taste in music. They're doing eight celebratory shows starting with Red Baraat's bhangra-funk, followed by nights of rock-n-roll, salsa, soul and more funk (lotsa funk... it's almost like they want people to dance). Brooklyn Bowl has always been one of my favorite venues so I couldn't be happier for them. I hope they stick around for 80 years.
Skating Polly at DC9
I blame the Internet for this. Zero members of Skating Polly were even alive in '94 but they nailed that era's sound. Angsty but not mopey, they come across less like a "grunge" band and more like one of those loud but profound rock bands which finally got their turn in the spotlight as formerly "alternative" music got pulled into the mainstream. They would have been one of the better ones too, even back then. Also, they've released more music videos than every band in 1994 combined which is definitely the Internet's fault.
Apparently the band's singers have been performing together for eight years which is insane. This band is really young. They recently let their brother join the band so that they could study for their SATs together or something. I guess every now and then some sort of magic happens and a group of really young people form a really good band. Being related seems to help.