Vamos - From Chicago, this quartet hits the stage with a full blast of post NY Dolls punk fury. They remind me a bit of a Dayton band, the Luxury Pushers as the rhythm section pounds away and the guitar and synth/percussionist add to the mayhem. However, there is a psychedelic swirl in the guitar sound and reverb on the vocals, so there is a touch of psyche in there as well. The songs after the opener do not quite have the energy and execution needed to stand out, although a couple have a nice twisted garage punk sound that works. It did not help that at most there were 11 people (counting some other band members) and at set's end only about 5 were present. As Dickens would say, a bleak house.
Flying Cars - From NYC, comes one of those guitar/vocals + drums duos that I keep going back and forth on as whether this is a fair approach to take for a band. Ultimately, it depends on what the band has to offer. In this case, there just is not enough going on for a two-person band to succeed. And that is too bad, as there were a couple of songs that sounded quite excellent later in the set. There is some quality here and it was a reasonable listen, but I spent a lot of the set imagining one or two other musicians adding some cool things to the sound. I hope they rework this concept. If not, hey, you could do worse.
Spirit Animal - Thankfully, the bleak house has now turned into a decent Sunday night crowd of about 35-40 people. And that's not too surprising as this hard touring band has done well in DC in the past. In fact they were just here on February 28th at a fine show at the Black Cat that I reviewed here. The formula and many of the songs remain the same. These guys play a funk rock that has plenty of energy and is easy to grasp onto and enjoy. And this genre isn't an immediate sell for me. Ever since the magnificent Funkadelic turned out great psyche-funk-rock several decades back, others have tried. I really did not care a lot for Primus and even the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but loved the dark humor of Nomeansno. Spirit Animal also works for me as they have great rock moves and a nice art-punk vibe such was present in the Contortions, Devo, and the Gizmos. The funk was most present in the basslines, although he could turn on a dime and lay out a throbbing rock pattern which made for a nice shift. The drumming is steady and the guitar chirps along nicely, ready and waiting to cut into a blazing solo. The singer has loads of energy and decent style and adds some cool synthesizer sounds at times. The crowd was digging it and some of them know this music well. The 40-minute set went by quickly and effectively with enough sonic shifts to keep me interested the whole time. This band should continue to grow and is a worthy addition to the DC scene when they come to town.
Quote of the Night: Overheard from a patron... "I'm sorry for yelling so much, but just can't have sex."