Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Times New Viking Will Kick Your Shit (But With a Smile)

The crowd in the Black Cat Backstage was minimal last night, but they sure were full of Memorial Day fury. Well, at least by Times New Vikings' short but sonic set. Lead singer/drummer Adam Elliott took his seat comfortably behind the drum kit and asked "Hi DC! How many of you are drunk? Yeah? Ok, how many of you are on your second drunk? Good, let's party."

Party? Well, I wouldn't go that far. This Columbus, Ohio tripod of "lo-fi indie rock" sure wants to party with their rollicking mix of heavy beats and slow jams, but between the myriad of technical problems, extreme heat and lack of local support, it seemed more like a basement keg party broken up by the cops just after midnight than a rock and roll show.

That's not to say I didn't have a good time, I did. I caught The Babies entire opening set, and despite bassist Kevin Morby announcing his recovery from a bout of food poisoning, they sounded pretty great. Lead guitarist Cassie Ramone looks like she could stand to eat anything at all, but her slim figure doesn't slow down her quick-fingered sound. Adam from TNV watched most of the set and seemed genuinely pleased with these Brooklynites.

While I originally came for The Babies, I decided Times New Viking needed some support considering they likely barely cleared the cost of gas from here to tonight's show in Charlottesville. Merge Records has a pretty wicked hard on for drummers who act as lead singers (See Telekinesis), and usually they are right on target for this kind of talent. It helps when the rest of the band can amply back you, and among other things Merge likes, is a strong female pianist. Beth Murphy doesn't exactly get me going like Missy Thangs from The Love Language, but she is certainly talented.

That, and Jared Phillips is one bad ass guitarist. When his guitar simply quit working midway through the opening riff of one of the last few songs, he kicked a few things around, then just dropped his guitar and went roaring off stage for another nearly identical white fender. This guitar lasted about fours songs more before deciding to break down in the midst of the very last song of the encore. At this point, the band was over it and really wanted to party. They closed the show instead with a Indie appropriate "fuck it" attitude and made their way to find some more booze.

Not bad for a Monday night. While it was, mind you, only 11:45, I didn't stay to hang out. I imagine the gang of crowd thrashers who banged around the front of the stage managed to show these guys a good time. Happy Memorial Day from Times New Viking.  

See also the images from the DCist's review.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.

There is something so satisfying about seeing my friends succeed. This past Friday (the 13th!!), I ventured to the dark side, otherwise known as H St NE, to see my pal Josh Epstein in his band Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. at The Red Palace. Opened up by the Generationals, a group of youngsters so cute you could literally pinch their cheeks and not feel creepy, the evening was fabulous.

The Generationals support each other wholly (even though the band is not technically a whole) with a solid sound somewhere mashed between The Strokes and Vampire Weekend. One lead vocalist has a nice higher pitched sound that compliments the other's more mellow vocal range. They are excitable and come equipped with a rotating group of musicians including a keyboardist, a drummer, and a bass player who looked like Cousin It (though like, on vacation, as he was wearing aviators). They were a great opening piece for the aforementioned Dale and gang.

Josh and his friend Daniel started Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. after discovering a kinship for each other's sound around the Detroit music scene. They were both coming from other projects and were hoping to find something that would give them the freedom to experiment with new ranges while still holding onto the sounds they create so seamlessly. They just added a new drummer at the onset of this tour, and that young whip appears to be a good fit. This band has such an impressive stage presence that it is hard not to have a good time.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.

Above is a shot of Josh singing into, yes that's right, a telephone. He is wearing a suit, as was the rest of the band, to support their forthcoming album It's a Corporate World. DEJJ played a lot of the covers they are known for, including the highlight, "We Almost Lost Detroit" and the Beach Boys "God Only Knows". The rest of the set consisted of a slew of the newbies due out on June 7. They sounded fantastic, and I was pleased to support my friend.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.

Oh, did I mention they blew bubbles and invited folks on stage to sing in skeleton masks? Yeah, that too. They also had several giant wooden letters spelling out JR in bright bold lights. I know, hilarious. But don't listen to me, I had such a good time with these fellows I got kicked out of the Red Palace. If you want to get a better idea, watch the clip below, or try your damnedest to see them next time they are in DC.