Dot Dash - This venerable local quartet has long been a solid entry on many a bill in DC and I was looking forward to seeing them again for the first time in quite a while. There are changes. They have a new album which I will be reviewing in a couple of weeks. Also, there is a new guitarist making his debut tonight. The core rhythm section along with the lead vocals/rhythm guitarist is still on hand to grind out their well aged brand of post-punk power pop. They were as tight as ever and the lead guitarist fit in well. He was no doubt playing it safe, but he was on the mark and occasionally provided a little flourish to these sharp little numbers. I like how there is room to breathe in this music that is often missing in overly precise power pop bands. Just a little jangle and undulation from the rhythm section can do a lot and these guys get it done. Oh, and a nice Crime shirt on the bassist. It makes me wonder while in all my years, I can not recall seeing a single cover of a Crime song (maybe once, but I can't place it). Step up, someone.
Hellbound Glory - These four guys immediately sound like they've earned their name. They play a mix of brazen honkytonk stompers and country rock ballads that are assertive and rocking and don't really fit country music or alt country very well. And that is to their credit as they have a fun attitude and rugged sound that brings life to a stage no matter how rocking or non-country the the other bands are. The brothers in the rhythm section play with power and intense steadiness allowing the singer/guitarist to cut loose and inject his sense of fun and adventure into his songs. There is a guy on a washboard who sings a little and his washboard is pretty much inaudible, which is no loss as far as I'm concerned. So these are simple, straight forward songs that will hit you at the gut level. They played for 50 minutes, but they seem like they could be like one of those bands of old that could play 6 hour long sets throughout the night. Hopefully the tour will go well for them and they will be back. They have the look of real road warriors, so I fully expect to see them next year.
Supersuckers - I have not seen this band since maybe their second album tour a couple decades back. They were a grungy punk band that played fast and with a bit of humor in that growing Seattle scene that they moved to from their far quieter Tucson origins. I kind of lost track as they went cowpunk and had their ups and downs as most bands do. I was not expecting much tonight, but was pleasantly surprised that they still had a fast energetic garage punk sound. There were leanings toward cowpunk, but the energy was strong throughout and there was the usual sense of barely controlled abandon here. The sound was awfully muddy at first, but the soundman pulled it together by the third song and gave them plenty of room to sound dirty and nasty, but allow us to hear it all and make some sense out of it. Mr. Edward Spaghettward is still at the top of the stage with his gnarled lead vocals and nimble bass playing. The drums are swift and the guitarists trade slide moves with bar-room solos sped up a few rpms. Good stuff, no real major reinvention or essential permanence, but a lot of fun for a night in the clubs.
Quote of the Night: From Hellbound Glory's singer while talking to the soundman regarding monitors... "Lots of me, I sound the best."