Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Horrors - The Stepkids -- Black Cat Sep 30 2011

The Stepkids - This Connecticut trio is presented in Cinerama or rather the three guys play in front of a wide curved screen with lots of great psychedelic lighting projections. The early part of the set reminded me a lot of the Eno-Bowie collaborations, perhaps most like"Lodger". They featured deep, cool vocal work offset with some falsetto backing vocals. All of this was atop light, spacey music that chose not to go the safe harder psychedelic route. Instead they aimed for accessible pop and consistently hit the target. They reminded me a bit of the lighter side of Group 1850 and very quietly pulled me into their set. They even added some R&B rhythms in a way that still kept their overall flavor intact. Deceptively original with a conviction to their sound, they seemed awed that they went over as well as they did in this 45 minute set on their first trip to DC. They promised to be back and there will be some people here tonight that will be happy for that.

The Horrors - So what is all the buzz about this band? I decided to find out as I knew nothing about them up until a month ago. They have been rising steadily in the UK and are developing a US following as well. They start with some nice psyche-pop. It's very British and although I have one friend accuse me of being so terribly into all things British, the truth is I have a real problem trying to sort out all the really popular pop/rock bands over there from Oasis onwards. The Horrors do channel a lot of this... Teardrop Explodes, Smiths, and probably lots more. They have a full-time vocalist, keyboardist and the expected guitar-bass-drums line-up. The sound is good throughout the night with a lot of space for the vocals atop the rhythm section. The guitar and keyboards fire in and out in key moments before the occasional song where it all hits hard. I don't quite hear shoegaze, not quite psyche, but they do have a nice command of what they want to do. "Three Decades" was an absolute powerhouse that exploded out of nowhere and was the highlight for me. I am not sure they are the next big thing for me personally, but they lived up to the hype and delivered a crisp set that I ultimately enjoyed quite a bit. It was a little on the short side at 52 minutes prior to the two encores, but one of the encore numbers was pretty long, so they went one hour-five or ten or so.

Set List: Changing the Rain/Who Can Say/I Can See Through You/Scarlet Fields/Dive In/Three Decades/Endless Blue/Monica Gems/Sea Within a Sea/Still Life// And two songs in the encore that I don't have the titles of.

Quote of the Night: The nicest guy that ever stepped on my foot while dancing shared his enthusiasm... "How do they get away with that (recent album). It's sooo good, it's (Classic Italian two hand gesture with headbob)"

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