by Kyle Schmitt
The Grey A - Grey Jacks and his four-piece band presented a clean, polished rock sound with barbed lyrics. His songs call out con men and liars, while Jacks rues that, "Everywhere I see / people happier than me." His songs impress the most when the energy increases, as it did on a rousing "love letter" to New Orleans and a cover of "Personal Jesus" that he dedicated to Those Darlins. Embracing his self-described "politipop", Jacks made time for election-year sloganeering in DC. He warned his audience that "The game is rigged", and his advice to "Vote 'em out" was the right message at the right time and place. And speaking of right time and place, Jacks later told the crowd to bring their vaporizers to his 4/20 show at Comet Ping Pong.
Idle Bloom - This group conjures a rich, heavy sound that channels My Bloody Valentine at times. While most songs lacked a defined structure, hooks arose out of nearly every verse, and the marked dynamics got heads bopping from the first song onward. The lead guitar sounds almost synth-like and lends grandeur to the mix. Olivia Scibelli's strong singing proved a match for these domineering guitar tones, and her bandmates' backing vocals integrated well with the portentous instrumental atmosphere. Idle Bloom's strengths were highlighted on "Dust", which featured guitar that sounded like it was lighting the way for the bass to cut a path through the darkness.
Those Darlins - This set took on a valedictory feel, as it marked the first of Those Darlins' final four shows (for now, at least). It felt even more like graduation day when guitarist Nikki Kvarnes (a Rappahannock County girl) pointed out her cheerful family in the audience. Those Darlins shifted effortlessly from blues to hard rock to country, sometimes blending all genres into one blazing song. Despite the fact-based subject matter, "Hives" rang out with joy, and Kvarnes and fellow guitarist/singer Jessi Zazu teamed for a fantastic vocal performance on "That Man". Zazu is a compelling live performer, spitting twang as she stares down her audience and bounds up at the microphone like she can't wait to tell off her lyrical target. The ladies strutted through some crowd-pleasing covers, with Zazu tearing through "White Light/White Heat" and Kvarnes venturing into the audience during a smoldering "Shakin' All Over". If this was it for Those Darlins, then these women have earned rightful admittance to their eternal paradise in Guitar Heaven.