Hey Rosetta! - Due to traffic problems, the middle band starts things off tonight. This is a musical ensemble from Newfoundland. I am skeptical with the first notes as it is sounding awfully similar to veritable fleets of the fuller indie rock bands that have invaded musical shores in recent years. But casting that aside, these guys really do come up with some powerful sounds. A guitarist handles the lead duties and there is another guitar along with rhythm section, violin and a cellist who plays some guitar. I particularly like the songs where the strings are cut loose and there is lots of interesting counterpoints in this loud raucous, yet tuneful music. The thinner songs get that sort of 'same old' feeling from that you would hear from Blitzen Trapper, Low Anthem, or fill in your favorite here. Not that the songs are a problem, as they manage to express some emotional range in them. A good start tonight and thankfully most of the crowd was here to hear these songs and were into all they heard.
Yukon Blonde - From the left coast of Canada, through 1,300 miles of traffic, comes this twin-guitar quartet. They look fresh and raring to go after apologizing for being late, and their personality is welcomed, but not nearly as much as their intense energetic playing. This is quick, hard rocking intense playing that seems to be a nice blend of the two directions the Escovedo (Alejandro + Javier) brothers have taken over the years. I think these guys are at their best when they head toward Javier's Zeroes stylized heavy power-pop. All four of the players sing creating some catchy harmonies amid the maelstrom of guitars and power bass and drums. They did have some heartland style songs as well, especially on the oddly named "Iron Fist" (not a Motorhead cover). Then they were back to some grind it out guitar work that somehow merged the Wipers and even Sonic Youth into a hard hitting closure. I would hate to see what these guys did when rested, check that, hopefully they will return and give us an even longer set next time around. The large crowd was definitely hungry for it tonight.
The Jezabels - And to complete the international show, Sydney Australia's Jezabels are up next. They feature a great female vocalist with guitar, keyboards, and drums. The music has been a bit overly loud all night and this was the first time it was distracting. The sound was a complete mess early on, but the balances were sorted by the third song getting clarity for all the components... except for the vocals. "They need to turn up her voice--she's a great singer!" a guy next to me implored. Yes, agreed said I, as I already had made that notation in my book. I don't blame them for pushing the volume as they musicians create a slightly less dense Joy Formidable sound, but they needed to pull it back just a bit. The lead singer reminds me a bit of something between Natalie Merchant and Joy Formidable's Ritzy Bryan. The songs really do stick to you and they deservedly had a lot of fans here tonight. All of the bands tonight were loud and energetic. The Jezabels had the quality and energy to stay with them and round out a great night of international music.
Plug of the Night - If you have not already seen this site, you should really check out Showlist DC, which is the place to go to see all musical happenings in the DC and Baltimore area. Catherine Lewis does a comprehensive job running the site and even has time to post recommendations and a daily blog of reviews and whatnot. Enjoy!