Gamble House - From Los Angeles comes this four piece with the usual lineup and one guy switching from keyboards to lead guitar. Only 30-35 people of this sold-out show were here at the start of the set, but it grew as expected. They were treated to some pretty decent indie pop-rock songs with just a bit of shoegaze shimmer. I liked the lead work which was more of a textural originality vs. pyrotechnic fretboard work. It was similar to the lead guitarist of a band I used to see in the area called Schwa. They won't be knocking Radiohead or Fleet Foxes off of the charts, but they do fit into this scene quite nicely.
Wye Oak - The not-so-secret secret that works for me is the combination of unique elements into ways that may surprise and offer a bit of originality within common themes and genres. Wye Oak has been an example of that since early on. They have a female voice and guitar with a unique drummer-keyboardist who plays one-handed drums and keyboards simultaneously. I have liked them from the beginning but they seem to get better and better. They really have their sound down now with lots of strong gutsy playing and surprisingly noisy moments. They shift it into a more folk-rock sound with ease and really keep the drama and edge to the music. Excellent set. I sense they are creating a bit of a buzz. I hope so, as this Baltimore duo is deserving of a world-wide audience.
Deer Tick - A New England friend of mine has extolling the songwriting virtues of John J. McCauley III for many years. He preferred the era when he performed as a folkie under this name. But in recent years, he has now had a working band that is really rising steadily in the indie scene. Hence this sold out show tonight. I hear some of the Dylan/Petty/Mellencamp touches in his songs. He does have a great ability to really integrate his singing into the pop hooks of the guitars. He is allowing the others to add showcase some soon to be recorded songs which is nice, but his songs stood out more. I was surprised he did a Tom Petty cover "Breakdown" as kind of obvious, but then I realized that the song is 34 years old! When the Sex Pistols did their take on Eddie Cochrane's "Something Else", I felt they were digging far back in rock'n'roll roots. Yet that was only 17 years back from when they were doing it. Sorry for digressing, but this is one of those moments I frequently have where time moves at different speeds depending on my age. So Deer Tick can feel free to cover ancient songs like early Tom Petty. It went over well enough, but the important point is that they write great songs themselves and have a nice style on stage. The set went over well in spite of the hot hot temperatures with all the wall-to-wall bodies in the club.
Quote of the Night: From the opening set... "We've been on tour with Rogue Wave a lot recently, but it is great to be here in.... (crowd: DC!)... yeah, DC. Happy to be here." Is this not a violation of Commandment One of Stage Patter?