Br'er - From Philadelphia comes this three-piece or thus my notes read. I am not sure how long it was until I saw the guy on the floor twiddling some knobs. He was easier to spot when he stood up and played a bass clarinet or something akin to that. And not much else fit the standard rock band here, either. There was a cello and violin going the full time with the final member handling lead vocals and playing harmonium with a touch of guitar. The music was linear enough with a spacey feel in a non-psychedelic manner. They reminded me a bit of Baby Dee who opened for the Swans when they were last in town. This band would be a great fit with Michael Gira's Angels of Light style or any scene with roots in the Velvet Underground. A nice low key mood was present with lots of intriguing sounds from busy to quiet working their own sense of drama. It was a little rough on the edges (endings) but quite smooth and interesting throughout their half-hour on stage. A solid opener for the growing Saturday night crowd.
Paperhaus - Even with the more standard two guitar and rhythm section look, there is a lot of non-standard music that comes from this local four-piece. They begin with a great spacey trip down a Greg Sage highway which is pretty much a lonely desert road filled with plenty of guitar interplay. After that they hit the city with strong folkish rock with lots of jangle and mandolin style guitar plucking. Most of the set did feature really nice guitar interplay with chords, leads, interesting little runs and lots of creative relish. It had nice garage sensibilities with both the fuzz and tuneful songs. At times it sounded like Sebadoh was covering the Minutemen as the loose and precise seemed to coexist nicely within this talented band. The sound tonight was a big improvement from the last time I saw them as everything was balanced perfectly and all four players sounded great together. They all even had some lead vocal time as well which only added to the nice mixture of styles and textures. They finished with another excellent song in the style of the opener, as they jumped back on that mystical highway to head off to the sunset before their next returning show. Sometime soon, I hope (late January if I heard correctly) as this was a lovely, perfectly flowing set.
Pree - It is high time I caught up with this local four-piece. They play a modern free folk/rock based sound that I try to stay current on. What is nice about their sound is that they have moved well beyond the cliches of this genre (which developed far too quickly) and play all sorts of original songs with lots different instruments and most importantly, plenty of personality. There are guitars, keys and a rhythm section mostly going on all songs, but flute, glockenspiel, percussion, and the first bowed saw I have seen since my days in Denver. There was a sizable crowd tonight that was very supportive (as they were for all the music tonight) and Pree was quite thankful as they mentioned many times how happy they were to be home after a good 2 1/2 months on the road doing around 50 gigs. There was an annoying buzz popping into the mix that no one was sure where it came from, but the sound person got it under control. The band had a really nice spirit and the rhythm section gave things a lift nicely even as the two guys traded places for a number of songs. So yet more great DC music tonight with the added bonus of a lot of bands in the audience, which means I will be taking in their sets as well when I get the chance. Because if they were sharp enough to be here for these sets, then they probably have something great to offer as well.
Quote of the Night: From the multi-lingual member of Paperhaus when asked to tell a joke in Japanese (instead of Russian or English which was offered) ... "The Japanese have a different sense of humor. 'Thank-you' is ending of a good joke."