The Frights - Parked against the back wall with all the other knowledgeable has-beens, I am safe from all spastic young folks up front. From this distance I can safely misremember my youth and judge those that braved the unreasonably cold weather.
Now that I have successfully become a curmudgeon, I guess it's on to the music. A lot of tonight is par for the course; power chords, quick songs, and parents patiently waiting for their children. It's certainly a welcome change from last night. The Frights are touring in support of their album, You Are Going To Hate This; described as "reverb drenched riffs with 50’s rockabilly references". And they certainly lived up to that piece of PR tonight; keeping things interesting by continually referencing Nicolas Cage and National Treasure.
The Frights brand of punk comes all the way from San Diego California. It's interesting how their environment influences their music. While the tropes I spoke of earlier are present, there is a sunny disposition to these compositions; almost like a jarring doo-wop. Even without a female presence, I am reminded of Exene Cervenka. Their structure is bright; lots of major chords. They even played some Weezer for good measure; improvising the spoken word parts of The Sweater Song and tailoring them specifically for this DC crowd. That's pretty cool. Small moments like that, even if it is just a cover, show an attention to detail that is uncommon to say the least. And it's those small moments that folks will remember and talk about, so good fucking job.
SWMRS - Swmrs starts the night with a plea, "Let's fuck shit up" and they follow with something that should be a required prerequisite for any punk show; an impromptu opening that is as sloppy as it is short. God damn if tonight doesn't make me feel old as shit. These guys look impossibly young but I guess that's a good thing because there is nothing sadder than an old punk band. Vocally I am reminded of Blood Brothers; that occasional high pitched delivery that they perfected almost a decade ago, however that's where the similarities end. SWMRS aren't the chore that Blood Brothers can sometimes be. For the most part the compositions are pretty straight forward; fast, aggressive, and loud. Though that kind of describes all punk music, so that isn't much help is it? They aren't aggressive in the way that Sick Of It All or Agnostic Front are, there is a casualness to it, fun. Nobody is here to beat the shit out of anyone; just get crazy, get fucked up, and sing along.
The crowd is getting as crazy as The Backroom allows; bouncing, swinging and being general spazzes. Now that I think of it, I don't know why more parents don't take their kids to shows like tonight. All this moving has to tire them out, like taking out a dog for a long walk so they sleep the rest of the day. It isn't particularly packed but SWMRS treats the room as such and the crowd hasn't slowed down all evening. As old as it makes me sound, it's great to see folks having a good fucking time. No shoe gazing tonight.