The Escape Artist - This is the second time for me in catching this local twin-guitar quartet. They cover modern shoegaze sounds, but have their own approach that emphasizes the songs more than sheer volume or bombast. Yes, they can cut loose, but hold back on the predictable slow-to-fast, quiet-to-loud moves that so many bands employ. They are able to hold the tension in much better in this fashion and it makes for a more original set. I am not sure whether it was the sound or the vocals, but the vocals did not enhance the songs as much as I would normally expect, although they were effective on the more intense passages. But everything else clicked nicely in this 34 minute set and a surprisingly crowded room enjoyed it. The future looks bright here, as they are just beginning to record some material, as well.
Gates - This three-guitar New Jersey based quintet is doing a little east coast swing and is hitting DC for the first time. They play a slightly heavier brand of shoegaze than the first band and for some reason also have vocals that don't seem to fit or at least enhance as much as I would expect. Maybe it is just me tonight. The music is busy and quite powerful. They are a solid outfit that knows what they are doing, although it did not quite transcend into something wildly imaginative. Still, a good set was enjoyed by all.
Time Columns - Now we are stripped down to a trio from Philadelphia who gets rid of the vocals altogether. And it works. Feel free to toss a stone my way as normally I like more vocals, but when you play music this tight and with such power, there is no room at the inn for wee lyrical expression. There is less shoegaze here and far more progressive rock and even a bit of fusion jazz. The drummer has a computer that appears to just add some nature and bird sound affects, while the guitarist does engage some loops. These songs either snap or roar depending on how the band plays off each other. The drumming is inventive, while the bass playing counters and adjusts well. The guitar alternately roars and snakes around with a great Dick Dale reverb tone at times. This is all quite brilliant and the crowd seems to sense that little bit extra that these guys have. This band is well worth your attention.
Gifts from Enola - I am still not quite into the rhythm of things, so I had to cut out early before this fine local band played their set. I am sure it was good-to-great, as I enjoyed them previously a couple years back.
Quote of the Night: From someone chatting with me at the show... "You ok? You seem kind of somber."
Yes, although I realize I am, that got me thinking on how my trip to see my Mom and her husband at their retirement home went well enough, I learned my good friend lost a brother and my oldest friend (since birth) lost his father, both just before Christmas. I would have liked to gone to the latter funeral, but I am caring for my sick cat. Now I am off to write to a young girl who wants to know a little more about her uncle whose obituary I wrote earlier this year. Maybe then, I'll listen to some Joy Division albums and watch an Ingmar Bergman film marathon. So there are a lot of dots that I was not consciously connecting. Here's hoping Saturday night's Black Cat show takes me into some more positive ground. I certainly can not control the fullest extent of my environment, but hopefully can inject a little more emotional variety within. And then, I will prepare for more exciting music and other adventures in 2013.