Ambassadors - Brooklyn-based Ambassadors start the show off with plenty of beats. They have a drummer at the kit and a lead vocalist with a floor tom and other percussion. He does play some bass for a few songs, too. They have a keyboardist and a guitarist to round out this surprisingly heavy sound. It is mostly the pounding and intricacy of the rhythm with a bright ringing guitar sound that featured slide moves and plenty of sustain. This is all quite modern and very comfortable if you can handle the volume. It appeared that the crowd agreed as the reception was strong and seemed to truly make the band happy to be in DC, on stage, rocking away. You could not ask for much more of a positive attitude than what these guys brought.
Breton - I did not know much about this band, but when I learned a British quintet would play the DC9, I thought it would be worth a look. They employed lots of keyboards and samples, along with a drum kit, bass, and guitar. The guitarist sang played with intensity that included solid riffs or bashing around searching for colorful noise. The bass was strong, percussion clever and strong, with loads of great sounds pulsating from the various keyboard and electronic locations on stage. What was ultimately brilliant here was the variety of songs that held together in common bond. I heard Gang of Four moves, especially in the vocals although there was not as much space in these songs. Other songs went more pop, more dance, back to post-punk, all accessible yet with tons of creativity within. Finally, I was reminded when I saw Wire on their comeback fourth album which was more of an electronic gutsy dance move that did not draw much on their brilliant initial three albums. Breton is what the fourth Wire album and beyond should have sounded like. All that brilliant post-punk creativity is there, yet it is modern, fresh, and danceable. They even handled the bass player handling an err... emergency off stage by having a keyboardist switching to bass and jamming off into another song until their comrade's return. There was a modest crowd of 40-45 people, but they were all up front, having a blast and will likely be telling their friends next time Breton comes to our shores. This is yet another band playing more modern material where I expected to like a little and ended up liking a lot. Their hour here was an absolute hour well spent.
Quote of the Day: From Breton's singer discussing getting to DC, the first stop on the tour... "All the way here with missed flights through Amsterdam, Paris, we kept thinking 'we're missing Washington, we're missing Washington' but 12 hours later we didn't." ... Geeze, if this is jet lag, sign me up.