Ocean Versus Daughter - This Richmond outfit starts off with a solo piano/female voiced song. It is a steady rhythmic piano with occasional flourish along with deep ethereal, yet strong, vocals on top. I could listen to a whole set of this, but it was nice to see a bassist, drummer, and cellist fill out the sound from thereon. The music retained the quiet intensity and dramatic tension and easily pulled me in. The vocals remind me a lot of Spriguns' Mandy Morton with their icy sense of quiet which can firmly move into great depths (of the ocean here). There is intricacy in the music that reminds me of Sweden's Efterklang (coming to DC shortly). They had some feedback problems which marred the otherwise exquisite sound they achieved tonight in their 32 minute set. Hopefully they will be playing DC again some time soon, as they have the musical complexity and songwriting skill that will likely reward repeated listening.
The Mean Season - I really have enjoyed this local trio in past sets and they won me over again tonight. I was impressed with how they can concoct a steady textural landscape and then move into quick intricate patterns before moving back into more open shaped music. This creates a lot of intrigue over the course of a set and keeps things fresh and vibrant on the entire journey. Clearly, we have a well booked evening of intelligent, yet catchy music here tonight. The heavier rock numbers that sneak into their psyche-pop-prog-rock moves are a nice jolt to the system and expand things even further. With the amount of quality local bands around town, I have trouble remembering just how good some of them are. Now after three times with the Mean Season, that will not be a problem here.
Snowden - This band has been pretty much a solo vehicle for Jordan Jeffares, although he has recruited two excellent players in the band who hopefully will remain over future albums and tours. I immediately recognize Mikey Jones who plays with Adam Franklin and with Franklin's band Swervedriver, in America at least. Jones lends his precise powerful drumming in a more stripped down manner to give the foundation for Jeffares' thoughtful pop music. The third member adds some mildly anarchic bass playing which rocks the music out in strange and interesting ways. His keyboards are more traditional in a modern atmospheric sense. The music is a fine combination of lush and edgy, a combination that does not always marry this well. It may more often head into dream pop land, were it not for Jeffares' vocals which keep things firmly aground. The band has played DC quite a bit and based on the full room tonight, they may be ready to graduate to a larger club. Their 55 minute set capped off a strong night of music for fans looking for a bit of intelligence mixed into emotionally moving songs.
Deja vu? - Thankfully, no repeat of the Agnostic Front show... although, I am hearing there was a fatal shooting near the club when the show was getting out. I left quickly and did not see or hear anything, but apparently it had nothing to do with the club and the patrons. It was a crowded Friday night in the U Street corridor, and sadly these things do happen. Here is the initial Washington Post report.