Curse Words - This is the second time around for me and this local twin guitar quartet (all four bands would have this exact format on stage tonight). I don't know if it was me or them, but they seemed a tad sharper tonight. I liked them well enough last time, but they had just a bit more thrust this time. Some of the sameness remains, but I noticed a couple of really sharp songs, some interesting basslines, and the well thought out twin vocal parts were still exceptionally good. And what's more, this was a perfect bill as all four bands had a fine pop punk style with a bit of variation, but well within a fairly tight sub-genre. Great start and pretty much right on time, too.
Dot Dash - There is not much more for me to say about this band, as I have been fan for a long time and have seen them maybe eight or nine times by now. They've gone through a few lead guitarists and this is the second time I've seen them with Steve Hansgen, who is an excellent fit. Tonight, their brand of power pop meets punk style was a bit deeper and darker than usual. That had a bit to do with the sound and environment at the Velvet Lounge. But I am not complaining as it allowed for a slightly more intense time and the vocal work was still clear above the powerhouse rhythm section and twin guitars. Everyone around here should make an effort to see this band, unless you sided with the Newport group that thought Bob Dylan plugging in was a sell-out.
Railsplitter - Welcome back, twice over actually, as this band and the headliner have taken over a year off as they had to take care of some minor things around the house, like having baibies and getting their families set up. Such distractions... The vocals here remind me quite a bit of Jake Burns, and that is a good thing. Musically they veer toward power pop or melodic rock, but it is pretty heavy and born out of punk rock. They have plenty of moves to offer fans of any and all of those and their set was quite strong and they were having a great time. So was the crowd.
American Television - And another band that was clearly happy to be back on stage rocking out to a very full room of fans that treated all bands well and had much more enthusiasm than usual. Yeah, it was Friday night, but this band like the others had the energy and the songs to make for a great night. As someone who was going to punk rock shows in the 1970s, I sometimes have troubles with shows like this. But when the bands know the music and have just enough of a personal or creative take, it works for me. And American Television had it working tonight. I missed a couple of really good shows in DC tonight, but I am happy I chose this one as it delivered.
Obit of the Night: Rock music lost another great as 77 year old Daevid Allen passed away, pretty much right on cue as his cancer had returned a few months ago and this date was expected. Allen was an original member of the Soft Machine, but was more famous for founding Gong, a wild and creative force. Allen was a classic hippie type who pushed the boundaries of progressive music, few that there were, into some highly original territory. The recent Gong record he did was excellent and was a great note to end on.