Reputante - I am always struck at how infrequently I see bands with a 'classic' line-up of drums, bass, guitar, and lead vocals (you know, Zeppelin, Sabbath, Sex Pistols, Joy Division). You get it in the punk scene, but rarely in indie rock. These guys are indie enough, but have a post-punk sound that does hearken back to Joy Division (add Bauhaus and the Cure, too) with the deep throated lead vocals and dark music. They vary the mood to happier sounds from song to song but keep a spacey strength throughout the set. They are a bit of a collaborative project having ties to tonight's headliners which you can read about at their site. The club was jam packed early and people were wise to show up early and catch this fine set.
Dot Dash - I am glad I have seen this local band several times now, as it does take a while to dig in and see exactly how good they are. Not that their infectious brand of power pop meets post punk lacks sufficient hooks to lure you in, but more that their musical intelligence takes some time to fully sink in (at least to this mind). The vocal work is intriguing since it is catchy, but has some distance within. The rhythm section seems solid enough, but impresses further as it works its magic over the full course of a set. The guitars carry the hooks and have a great ringing sound that doesn't really jangle but maneuvers within and without the form. Obtuse intellectualism aside, these veterans deliver sharp songs that have found a nice little fan base around here. And if you have not experienced it yet, keep watching the club listings for their next show.
Ash - This Northern Ireland trio has been around for twenty years and it was high time I caught up with them live. They have plenty of power and killer songs that have little twists and a dark sludge underbelly reminding me of a Thurston Moore take on Dinosaur Jr. There is even a bit of Motorpsycho heavy jam tendency when they get riffing. The vocals are good and the music is much smarter than cute, although it will hook you in. Maybe if the Buzzcocks played their songs like No Alternative. This was a treat for me and the full club attests to the many smart music lovers that figured these guys out long ago. They went deep into their back catalog even playing their first single "Jack Names the Planets" if I heard them correctly. And of course, I didn't hear them correctly as my notes identified the song as "Decade of Pies". I grant them license to write a song with that title before their next welcome visit to DC. So things finished off well tonight as all three bands combined comfortable sounds with strong individual identities giving smart music fans something to feast on.
Quote of the Night" From Dot Dash's singer, and something I plan to remind myself of daily... "Short, but painless."