The Plums - Some time after 11pm, the band finally went from sound check to some quiet adjustments to stage volume and feedback into their music in a manner where it was difficult to say where the song began. But it quickly went from a John Cage/Terry Riley sound through a quirky lof-fi Pere Ubu sound into full fledged psychedelic jamming that ultimately reminded me of local favorites, Kohoutek. When it really moved, there was some nice motortik style drumming and a rhythmic throb of guitars reminiscent of Hawkwind. There were three guitars going along with bass and drums, so it was loud and strong with some nice wailing guitar work. They were keeping it instrumental until the end when they added some rather meaningless barely audible vocals for a few seconds. Transitions were a bit awkward, but I could live with that as they did not waste any time retuning and chatting. They added some keyboards late in the set which was more of a rhythmic sound, as opposed to any real dexterous playing. And ultimately that what it was all about--laying down a sound with power and conviction. I thought the band was successful, but I have seen it done better with Kohoutek, Mogwai and the like. I would still say this was a nice 35 minute blast of sound.
Fern Knight - One of my favorites hit the stage with the biggest lineup I have seen from the band. Margaret Ayre is the mainstay with her lovely singing and cello playing. Also in the lineup are drums, bass, guitar, violin, and flute. And that combination of sounds is perfect for psychedelic folk music, which is pretty much what Fern Knight provided tonight. They had a nice drone quality and the band used dynamics well from lighter sounds to heavier psyche-rock moments. It was a bit of a Faun Fables meets Spirogyra (with more of a Mandy Morton vocal style rather than Barbara Gaskin). I also detected some of the folkier Amon Duul II at times which sounded great. They added some harp toward set's end, so the ethereal, mystical sounds were only enhanced. On the downside, the sound was not always balanced very well with some instruments lost at times. I did like the guitarist's wah-wah sounds coming from deep in the mix rather than powering things up front. It was a lovely effect. But then it ended. The 25 minute set was over and the night was done.
Martin Bisi - My apologies to Mr. Bisi. I left as it was very late, and from what I have learned I was not the only one to leave after Fern Knight. Not only that, I was confused by the booking and I thought he had gone on first, instead of the Plums who I did not know was even on the bill. Hopefully you can come back to a club that can get a show started earlier and allow bands to get a nice full set in.
Quote of the night: From Margaret Ayre... "it is past my bedtime."
Although the music was solid and enjoyable, tonight, I have to say that I probably will not be headed back to this venue too often, which is a shame since they book some really good bands. But the late start, casual style, and really short sets do not make me anxious to come back.
Original review appeared in WeLoveDC.