Concert Review: New Cassettes, White Arrows, Family of the Year, DC9, October 7, 2012

Walking through the gray, cold rain to a solid but grungy bar to hear three up-and-coming indie-rock bands last night I felt far from a Norman Rockwell character. However, walking home after the show three hours later, I couldn’t help but think I’d just had an experience that would enable me to tell one of those Norman-like-reminiscent “You y’ung’uns won’t believe this… but back in MY day us kids could see all THREE of those bands for $10” stories. All three bands were awesome – and the fact that the show was so intimate and inexpensive just made my head spin.

First up, New Cassettes from the U.K. I loved these guys – and though I am really trying to refrain from band comparisons these days, I can’t resist but say they reminded me of my first CD ever – Oasis – in their rock-inspired instrumentals. The ultimate sound is a bit more upbeat and energetic than Oasis – I especially liked Bite Your Lip for its enthusiastic sound. The band was impeccably decked out in an all-black ensemble which included vintage American wear such as a retro Mickey sweater and English-inspired threads sporting Led Zeppelin logos. They were super gracious to the meager crowd who’d trickled in on the cold rainy Sunday – and I can only hope/expect they will be selling out big stages both in London and American soon.

Next up, the band I’d particularly come to see: White Arrows. I’ve been listening to this band’s Get Gone on repeat for the past two months (no lie) and so I was super pumped to see them live. They did not disappoint. First, their light and fog-machine set up was awesome: super trippy and it totally fit into their more techno soundscape and it included a light-up tambourine. The lead singer, Mickey Church, and his band came out in appropriately-fantastic wear: Hawaiian shirts, Buddha shirts, shirts with corgi dogs… all very much approved. The band played Get Gone early on, and also played a bunch of other songs with which I was less familiar but nonetheless totally loved. The band includes brother and half-brother combinations, and the family-feeling was semi-apparent, both in looks and in the comfortable presence the band had. I also want to give a special shout-out to the keyboardist/computer member whose falsetto singing was They put on a very very fun show – and were also super friendly to the crowd. They mentioned they work with the non-profit Invisible Children and encouraged the audience to check out the organization while avoiding any type of offputting preachiness. If only all artists could walk that delicate line….

And lastly, taking the stage at 10:30, Family of the Year. Real talk real time, I did not foresee staying for the headliners, if only because I’d been to Free Fest the night before, it was rainy and cold, and unlike some in DC (ahem federal employees), I did not have Columbus Day off the next day. However, between listening to the openers, I got to talk to Alex, the touring bassist from Family of the Year, who was probably the nicest person I’ve met in the last six months. It was great to hear from him the ups and downs of band life and it made me super curious to hear Family of the Year. I was glad I decided to stay. Family of the Year has an awesome folkesie/rock sound that I haven’t heard before in other bands. Their songs have a catchy story-telling rhythm to them that sets their tunes apart from other bands. My favorite was The Stairs, although the band’s biggest song right now is St. Croix. Also, kudos to the female lead whose beautiful vocals, black cape, long red hair, and bright red lipstick made her seem straight out of a fairytale.

Long story short, all three of these bands deserve scores of admiring fans adoringly cheering them on at mega-stages (New Cassettes selling out to Brit-pop-loving-hipsters; White Arrows dominating the indie- techno-scene; and Family of the Year capturing the imagination of folk-rock fans) and I plan to be the annoying old-timer bragging about my avant-garde musical taste when that happens.

Posted on by halley in Concerts