Concert Review: Aztec Sun, July 22, Rock and Roll Hotel

Moving sucks. When the question is: do you want to pack up all your stuff into little cardboard boxes, figure out the logistics of moving it five states over, inevitably in the rain, and apartment hunt in a new city which somehow always costs 1.5x the rate of the city you’re currently living, the answer is always a hard and fast NO.

So I recently moved to Washington DC from Chicago, and finally three months into living in my new city I went to a show. If you were to ask me what the best things about Chicago are I would answer 1) the food (because Saag Paneer Pot pie with a side of mango chutney is a thing you can just find at the soda shop on the street corner) and 2) the concert venues. The second my friends got off the plane in Chicago, I’d drag them to the balcony of Lincoln Hall for a show because I wanted them to love it as much as I did, and inevitably they did.

So I was 100% ready to hate on Rock and Roll Hotel Saturday night when I went to catch local DC act Aztec Sun. Walking in, the opener was still setting up so I wandered up to the second floor, which had a pretty standard bar/dance floor, and then going up one more flight the narrow staircase emerged out into a sight of beauty for an ex-Chicagoan: a rooftop bar. Coming from a city where everyone hunkers down in their apartments for nine months out of the year, rooftop bars aren’t really a worthwhile investment for any establishment. However in DC, where the official motto is “Welcome to DC! Come sweat with us!” the rooftop bar is everywhere, from your fanciest and snootiest restaurants to your filthiest and stickiest dive bars. So I guess that’s a long way to say that while I like to think of myself as very loyal, I’m super easily bought by any kind of elevated space where I can drink beer outside.

So after hanging out at the rooftop bar for approximately 345,963,146 hours, I was finally convinced to head down to the first floor to check out Aztec Sun. The band squeezed all nine of themselves and their two saxophones, trombone, keyboard, drums, two guitars, bass, and tambourine into the small space and proceeded to melt the stage. Charasmatic frontman Stephane Detchou started things off with slow and sultry “Swing” from the band’s 2016 album Set You Free. Detchou, rocking a straw fedora and round-framed sunglasses, caught the crowd’s attention with his falsetto buoyed by the plethora of wind instruments behind him, and he never let go. Moving through “Pa Ra Ra” and “Revolution”, Detchou ceded center stage to the keyboardist, who was rocking a fedora of his own, a shiny vest, and a grin that told you he was having the time of his life. He immediately dove headfirst into “You Make Me Smile”, a crowd pleaser for the obvious reason that it sounds like liquid happiness being piped directly into your brain. Songs like that are honestly unfair – do I want a song about how much you love the special person in your life and how they make the world go around and they make you ridiculously happy and by the way do you want it serenaded to you in all its peppy, catchy glory from the adorable keyboardist with the Cheshire cat grin who has just jumped offstage to sing directly to the audience? Yes. Because I’m not a monster. So this band clearly already had me hooked, and to top it all off, they proceeded to bust out synchronized dance moves while maintaining max levels of soul infused funk. Sold.

So I’m not saying that you should move to DC for Aztec Sun. I’m just saying it’s something to consider.

Posted on by Celeste in Concerts