Concert Review: Girls of Trade, DEHD, June 23, Black Cat


Surprises are nice. Sometimes you find a dollar in your pocket and that’s fun. And sometimes there’s actually one last m&m in the bottom of the bag and that’s good too. And sometimes you go to the Black Cat for an indie rock show and you get a drag show as the opener and that’s super amazing.

Saturday night at Black Cat opened with Girls of Trade. To defend myself on the point that I didn’t realize this was going to be a drag show, Trade Bar DC is absolutely not the first thing that comes up when you google “Girls of Trade”, believe me, but after the show I tried a couple of iterations and came up with Trade Bar DC, and the name started making sense.

The ladies came out sporting flowing rompers, ripped tees, lingerie, multiple wigs, and glitter beards. Donna Slash emceed the event, encouraging the crowd to “Give a buck if you like what you see, and if you don’t like what you see give me $20 so I can buy something new.” It took the crowd a little while to get warmed up to the show, and after the first dance Slash quipped, “playing to a straight, sober crowd is just so different from playing to a gay crowd. The gay crowd would already be so drunk and into it, but the straight crowd sits there and thinks ‘Wow. This is art.'” But as the dances progressed, the straight, sober crowd started getting more and more into it, and by the time Slash hit the stage to finish the night off the crowd was sticking dollar bills into lingerie and having a great time. As Slash lip synced her way through a female-led punk rock song, she took a sip from the beer she’d been holding all night and then flung it into the crowd. As I cringed, expecting warm, stale, beer to come spraying my way, colorful confetti came floating down onto the now much more hyped up and roaring crowd. The second delightful surprise of the night.

Dream Eagle Heavy Dream, or DEHD, hit the stage next. With Ne-Hi’s Jason Balla on guitar, Emily Kempf of Heavy Dreams on bass, and drummer Eric McGrady settled between them, the trio swept the crowd up in their hazy, dreamy, droning, summery, indie, post-punk sound. Working their way through 2016’s self-titled DEHD and 2017’s Fire of Love, Kempf’s deep, throaty, majestic vocals kept the crowd entranced while Balla’s catchy riffs kept them moving. The back story to the band is incredibly cute, and involves the two Chicago musicians meeting at Cafe Mustache (everything about this story makes me immediately forget the 9 months of winter and miss Chicago so, so bad), running into each other on tours, wanting an excuse to spend time together, so forming a band and going on tour. The songs are summery and light, but don’t let that fool you – the lyrics are real and relatable. On “Sunburn” the band sings, “Your love is like a sunburn. Warmed my face but now it hurts.” Who can’t relate to that? If you’re in the Chicago area go check them out, they play Empty Bottle in August.

And if you’re in DC throw a couple bucks at the Girls of Trade if you like what you see. Or $20 if you don’t.

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Posted on by Celeste in Concerts

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