Friday, July 1, 2011

Oh So Peligroso - Hundred Acre Wood - Elephant Pistol -- Fort Reno - June 30 2011

Elephant Pistol - This is the first time I have taken in a free show in the summer series at Fort Reno Park. I should have done it some time ago but there is just something about combining outdoors + DC + summer that does not work for me. But the weather was nice today, so time to take in some free summertime music. The first band is really young, that is to say Really young. They have a couple of guitars, one being acoustic, bass and a rhythm section. They don't seem to have full command of their sound yet, but there was a song that was pretty excellent, so they sound like they have it in them to become something decent. A show playing to 200 some people here is a good part of that process. The PA is not dazzling, but it does the job well enough for us on the periphery. And I went out close to the street as the bugs were quite annoying at a few other spots I tried. So it was ok where I was aside from the hippie smoking pot while hiding in a thicket of trees.

Hundred Acre Wood - Again with the youth. These guys were a bit more accomplished and had a lush easygoing shoegaze pop into dance sort of sound. It was a little too pretty for me at times, but it was their choice and they had control of their songs with various guitars and keyboard switching. They were going over well enough with the younger crowd as well as some of the old timers.

Oh So Peligroso - These guys sounded good during my online preview listening session, but my body was not up to another outdoor set, so I headed home early. I am not sure how many more of these outdoor shows I will do, but I am very happy they exist for others. There were loads of people just relaxing in the park, playing around, youths doing some real world social networking and taking in live music for free. There are young bands learning their chops and some name bands in the series. So long may this series live. In this case youth is NOT wasted on the young, although aging does take its toll on the old.
Reviews of note - Folkworld 45 is out now featuring articles in German, English, Danish and Spanish. I reviewed boatloads of CDs (sometimes badly, although as my editor points out, the CDs are often not any better than the reviews). So click on the English version and CDs and check out the dozens of CDs that come from Europe along with a few local bands' efforts that I sneak in.


Chris said...

I had hoped to catch Elephant Pistol, as I checked out their web site and the had a couple good songs, including one really catchy rocker. Hunger delayed my arrival, and I unfortunately missed most of their set. They sounded a little out of sync at one point, but generally decent musicians and tight as a band, which was a little surprising for their youth. They could be a really good band in the future, but they are worth seeing now.

Hundred Acre Wood's shoegaze just isn't my thing, but they generally were pretty entertaining. The style is a little quite for an outdoor venue where not everyone is giving the music their full attention. The lead singer's flair for the overdramatic was rather annoying, with his occasional "this is a big moment!" gestures. At one point, he pointed the neck of his guitar to the heavens and struck a chord, and it appeared that his power cord fell out. Ooops.

Oh So Peligroso was there to rock, but for a picnicing audience spread out over a field, it was a herculean task. They played tight songs, thought the singer sang with a passion that often did not match the songs. Overall, though, they were a good, tight, rock band, and their music inspired some actual dancing. The dancers might have been the girlfriends of the band members, but that still counts.

I just started going to the Fort Reno shows a few years ago, so I don't know what they were like in their prime. On one level, it's a big evening picnic, so it must be tough for a band. If you have a quiet sound like Hundred Acre Wood, the audience conversations can be distracting, but it is a picnic, after all. If you want to rock out like Oh So Peligroso, it's tough to get that audience energy when the audience is spread out over the grounds like cows in a field. But as you point out, it's a good venue for a young band to play in front of an audience, work on their material, maybe work out a few kinks, and get their name out there. Hopefully, future shows will be better attended. With the Blackberry Belles and Title Tracks coming up, I plan to make it out at least a couple more times.

David Hintz said...

Thanks for filling out the review, Chris. I appreciate it as I focused more on the event and didn't stay as long as I should have to really get a grip on the bands. Playing here is a tough task but a good one for some bands. I was curious that so few people went up front and really stayed scattered toward the back. But many of the people in the back were listening closely and applauding, so the bands are playing for some attentive people. I hope the shows continue to draw, even if I am not out there too often. Keep in mind, I lived for almost 20 years on a Colorado mountain at 8,000' above sea level. So hot humid summers and I just don't get along.

Anonymous said...

You hit the nail on the head for all three bands. I will say that I love these free concerts on the lawn and it's a great way to introduce your kids to the joy of watching the music live.
We stayed for the duration but next time I might not bring as much cash since the ice cream man lurking on the corner made a killing on my three kids.

David Hintz said...

Great! I could see that going on in several little clusters scattered about. And yes, the trucks were doing the business, too. The overall positive vibe more than made up for the conditions and it is a nice break from some of the cynicism, etc. found in the clubs.