Darren Keen - While the club is slowly filling up, Darren Keen starts his electronica set with his rig on the floor in front of the stage. He is veiled and bopping around creating the usual assortment of sounds that are up tempo and perfect for dancing. But since this is at the 9:30 Club and not at U Street Music Hall where it would be perfect, it seems a bit out of place. Off comes the shirt and and veil, and surprise, it's Hacksaw Jim Duggan, or not as I was rather far off. There was nothing wrong with this and to his credit and endless enthusiasm for keeping the music revved up, he got a few more people dancing by set's end, even if you could count them on one hand (and maybe an extra thumb). It is DC after all, and it was early.
Suuns - I have been intrigued with the psychedelic sounds of this Montreal band for a while now and am finally happy to catch up with their live set. At the end of it all, I am not sure I am left with more questions than answers, but it was an interesting ride. The songs have a quirky jabbing quality to them, but they often extend into thicker trippy jams where the band locks in with synth/electronics, guitar, bass, and drums. They can soar with the best of them, yet the core songs are slippery and may take more time to grasp than in just one listening session. Full credit goes to any band for taking a highly personal approach to comfortable musical forms, so give this band a try and see what they do for you.
The Faint - I was bemused when a week ago I dug into my pile of CDs to review for Folkworld and found a copy of the Faint's sixth album, "Doom Abuse". Although we have a fairly liberal view of what constitutes 'folk' at the webzine, I was not so sure that the Faint should be there. And after hearing that blast of an album and the material performed here tonight, fear not Faint fans, your Omaha quartet is as heavy as ever. And for those of you new to the band, they are heavy with a rhythm section and keyboards, sans guitars. So you can start with ideas of a Gary Numan, Nine Inch Nails type of sound and the Faint takes it from there, with their own brand of hook laden song writing and vocal work. There is one lead vocalist with all other members joining in which helps carry their voices above the loudest moments. I particularly like how they were able to adjust tempos and stylistic shifts to keep things fresh and not getting too repetitive. They had a lot of fans in the crowd and there was much more of a throbbing dancing movement than you see at many shows. Certainly an attractive light show helped generate some of the excitement. They did struggle to overcome some equipment snafus mostly concerning the drums early in the set, but it they easily recaptured their rhythm soon enough and the rest of the set flowed well. I even enjoyed the newer material more than the old which is a good sign that this band is staying fresh and should continue to succeed at a high level.
Quote of the Night: from Darren Keen... "This one is for all the people who traded all their merchandise for drugs.... It's dedicated to me."