By Kyle SchmittDes Demonas - Keeping time with a tambourine or maraca, the singer announced a repeated, singular theme during each tune (e.g., “I do myself in”). His yells of “I feel alright!” midway through the set weren’t the only similarities to be drawn with the Stooges. While they impress even when playing a minimalist style of rock, Des Demonas also locks into some impressive bass and drum grooves, allowing the guitarist to provide feedback squalls over the beat. Despair and hope clashed in their final two songs. The band decried the miseries taking place in Africa, where there is “death and suffering every day”, before finishing on a hopeful note (“I want to live my life!”) on the funk-inflected “Hot Sake”.
Sotano - This four-piece band revved up the pace with a set full of straight-ahead rock. Their performance sounded like the singular narrative of a long, adventurous highway ride. Singer/guitarist Dru Dunnaway launched the group into its pursuit, declaring “Never never gonna go home tonight”, “I wanna get to you”, and “Ain’t gonna waste no time”. His bandmates provide an energetic classic-rock vibe to their songs, lending an AC/DC swagger to the music before shifting into a bluesy stomp. Sotano gives the sense of setting out for a prize in the great wide open while enjoying every minute of the chase. Speaking of Stooges references, Dunnaway appeared to kick off their set by questioning “if you’re lonely and got the shakes” before sampling Spinal Tap twice (mentions of trouser armadillos and “Jazz Odyssey”).
Ex-Cult - This band literally caused some head-ringing even with ear plugs. Their sound is fierce and unrelenting, especially considering that drummer Michael Peery was playing with just one cymbal while keeping time on his floor tom. He stopped mid-song near the end of the group’s set to make an adjustment to his kit, then immediately triggered a fill that led to another guitar onslaught. Singer Chris Shaw dominates the group’s stage show, drawing eyes wherever he roams. Shaw surveyed all 360 degrees of his surroundings, and it took him just half a song to find his way into the audience. The band didn’t rest their guitars against their amplifiers until two minutes after midnight, marking an excellent end to a Monday night in DC.