Caspian - From Boston comes this vibrant instrumental five-piece. It's all guitars with a rhythm section, aside from a brief glockenspiel moment. The pounding thump of the drums gives all the room needed for the guitars to shine and shimmer in splendid shoegaze glory. There are solid melodies reminding me of the prog stylings of Anekdoten and perhaps a bit of Mogwai here. This is not as twisted and varied as Boston mates, the Swirlies, but it is steady power that is quite involving. This is a high quality opener and they took their set to 45 minutes which flew by. This band is worth a headline show of its own.
Tone - I have lauded this band the previous two times I have seen them and will only try to throw a couple of exclamation points on top this time around. The band was celebrating 20 years together and in addition to the instrumental three guitar attack added some guest spots from former members during the last few songs culminating in a 9-man attack with two drummers working. I was reminded more this time that in addition to a great psychedelic swirl, they have powerful rock melodies working as well. They do not settle for introspective power, but really move their music along in ways that only the best bands of this style can do. This is a great band that we are priveleged to have here. Hopefully they will shoot for 30 years.
Savage Republic - This was a surprise. Making their DC debut 30 years after they began (in a newer lineup) is the mighty Savage Republic, a fascinating LA post-punk band. I bought some of their early music which I found dark, disturbing and powerful. So dark, I did not even listen to it often. They brought all of that and then some tonight as these four guys put together their incredible sound of post punk industrialism with a powerful furthering of the sound you heard on the first Public Image album (no doubt an inspiration to them). There was no shoegaze back then, but there was industrial and tonight they brought the oil barrel for metal on metal percussion (like an industrial band I worked with in the early 80s called Dementia Precox). Sometimes when a band goes on late during the weekend, I start planning an early escape after I have heard enough of the set to get the gist of things. By the second song, I knew I would be here as long as they were willing to play no matter how late they went. They used mysterious modal patterns that seemed simple but activated more brain cells than usual. It seemed like one or two guys ground out the power while the other did intricate patterns. Fiery power and speed from the drummer laid the foundation for the other three to trade instruments from the oil can to a couple guitars and a bass. They all did some vocals which added to the intensity. It was a little late, so they drove a few people home early but everyone who stayed felt that extra quality on stage. OK Swans fans, where were you? These guys were here first and they do everything the Swans can do and maybe even a little bit more (and believe me, I really enjoyed the Swans show on this stage as well). I really wanted to do another show myself tonight, but am so happy that I chose this one to see a one-of-a-kind, somewhat forgotten classic post-punk band.
Quote of the Night: From the opener... "Thanks to Tone for this show, probably the only band that could get us to drive 12 hours for a show, but 20 years together? That's quite an achievement."
Tone's leader also gave a great intro to Savage Republic saying he saw them in Cleveland in the early 80s and that there would probably be no Tone without that experience. Well, thank you Tone and the Black Cat for putting together this spectacular show.