Midnight Masses - There is a thickness in the air and a sheen on these guitars as this music spews forth. It is strong stuff with controlled atmosphere and a bit of variety. The clearest variety is in the beat with the pacier cuts resemblng a motorik style (although I wasn't counting with the kick drum). This was an effective enough set, although not one that dazzled the large crowd. But they were sufficiently warmed up and were treated to a decent band, so all looked well at the start of the evening.
La Femme - All the way from Paris comes these six talented musicians that cook up a French bouillabaisse of rich succulent flavors that still manages to go down lightly and not leave you with thousands of calories. Everything here is playful, but with an underlying firm control and intensity that spills out in pop beats and even freaky anarchic moves toward the end. The beats are never off as there is some Antmusic style in there, even as the vocals and instrumentation is far more subtle. The keyboards sound wonderful in a 60s pop way and there is even a strong twang in the guitar that seems like it should not fit, but does. Style such as this does not come around often and clearly the audience picked up on the vibe as you could see the movement and response increasing steadily throughout the night. It is rare when I can graph creativity and accessibility together with such high marks, as usually one will compromise the other. But La Femme has bottled the magic and figured out how to convert it into profoundly exciting music that the large Rock'n'Roll Hotel crowd will remember for a long time.
And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead - This quartet has long packed them in by delivering an intense yet agreeable post hardcore style of music. Angst aplenty, but with the ability to rise above rather than mope about. They really had the pummeling tempos cooking tonight as the rhythm section particularly starred. The guitars and vocals were good with lots of interesting moves, but there was too much compression in the sound for my liking. It did improve a bit and may have done even better if the soundman and lighting person they employed had not turned the sound booth into a loud conversation much of the time, little to do with the job at hand. As much as I complain about extraneous conversations around me, this was the first time it happened from the sound board area. In spite of it all the band delivered with powerful songs, yet some that had hooks reminiscent of the Flamin' Groovies 'Shake Some Action' (which is quite intricate and intoxicating). These guys are a perfect fit in DC, taking many back to late 80s harDCore, but with a fresh personality all their own.
Photo Grab of the Night...