There is a time and place for gravitas. There is a time and place for profundity. Then, there is a time and place for toe tapping indie anthems. Enter Little Daylight and Jukebox the Ghost, who rocked the 9:30 Club on March 10th to a crowd of delighted fans.
Little Daylight, a super punctual quartet (usually a core trio of Nikki Taylor, Matt Lewkowicz, and Eric Zeiler) hailing from Brooklyn, lit up the stage first with catchy tracks from their 2014 album Hello Memory. While youthful, energetic, and infectious describe all the band’s work, their range of style is impressive. “Be Long” instills listeners with a steady and hypnotic beat while “My Life” evokes a fist-pumping instinct with its almost-protest-style chanting of: “It’s my life… It’s our time!” The band has also delved into the remix world, recently creating a mash up of Jukebox the Ghost’s Postcard which is absolutely awesome. Both for their original sound and their remix ability, this band is absolutely one to keep your eye on. Although the big crowd pleaser in the set seemed to be “Mona Lisa,” “My Life” is my go-to track from the band’s repertoire.
Jukebox the Ghost, a longtime DC favorite formed at George Washington University, took the stage next to a bevy of loyal fans screaming their love. Ben, Tommy, and Jesse needed no introduction as they launched into their large repertoire of tracks dating from their first album, Let Live and Let Ghosts, in 2008 to 2012’s hits off their cover LP I Love You Always Forever. Opening with their new song “Postcard,” the band also hit on favorites such as the ever-silly ever-delightful “Hold it in.” For a trio that must weigh-in at 300 pounds maximum, the group has amazing stage presence – flawlessly bantering, joking, laughing, and playing without any sign of effort. (Shout out to Ben’s first line to the crowd which was an amazingly awkward: “Hello DC! You smell delicious!”) And the smiles on those guys – it’s so fun to watch performers enjoying their craft. And they really do come off as artists. Ben on the keyboard is unbelievable. You have to see him to believe his effortless skill. Jukebox the Ghost never ceases to please and the tireless group is always on tour. Look them up! And try to feed them if you can sneak a snack their way….
Baltimore – If you’ve listened to Radiolab, you may consider me “Straight Outta Johns Hopkins”. My point is, I seldom listen to hip-hop or rap. That’s pretty much established given my record with classical, instrumental, folk and other genres. Yes. All the soft stuff. So y’all have no reason to believe that I have any basis to recommend outside of those realms, much less my opinion when I say this song is good.
But there it is. My lack of historical appreciation for rap apparently doesn’t hinder the universality of music like the impermeable genre definitions and Pandora channels do. In “Rain,” you’re herded along by the rhythm to simmering build-ups toward each chorus, the cold/factual foreground grievances that change while the same theme plays out underneath (which I can guess but never confirm that it was meant to signify a social backdrop that hardly improved while manifold problems surface). The contents aside, the ’90s, video-game construction of the song is just, well, apropos. The album is from 2012, but as long as it’s new to you, it shouldn’t matter. Homeboy Sandman was also featured on Perspective, another song that I liked a lot.
Homeboy Sandman will be at the Empire Garage at 10:30PM on March 20.
I must admit that I went into Monday night’s Gang of Four show a bit of a skeptic. After all, guitarist Andy Gill, while a key member who played a vital role in shaping the band’s sound, is the only original member and their latest, What Happens Next, has been getting mixed reviews. However, I’ve got to give it to them – Gill’s latest configuration of the band put on a solid, entertaining set.
Though Gill has stated in interviews as of late that he’s not really that interested in being a nostalgia act, the band only played a handful of songs off of the new album. Then again, half of those tracks featured guest vocalists anyways. While Gang of Four may have hedged their bets by having multiple guests appearing on the new album, new vocalist John “Gaoler” Sterry proved himself an engaging frontman, stalking about the stage full of jittery energy. While most singers just tend to use one mic, Gaoler jumped between all 3 of the mics set up onstage. And he sounded good too, delivering classics like “At Home He’s A Tourist” and I Love A Man In Uniform” with the appropriate gusto. Gill also seemed energized by the new lineup, though his energy was slightly dampered by a brief break early on in their set to fix a tech issue. Gill took this as an opportunity to pour himself some wine. He also took a moment to ask the crowd what they thought of Molson products with a sour look on his face, indicating his opinion before the crowd had a chance to answer. For the record, several in attendance agreed with his assessment.
Towards the end of the show, a woman shouted out, “I saw you in 1980 at the Palais Royale!” I’m not sure what she was hoping for here, but she did get some recognition from the crowd as they broke into applause, which Gill joined in on. Some other guy tried to get in on the act by shouting out where and when he first saw the band too, but no one was having any of that. Nice try anyways.
I’ll tell you what I was driven to do while listening to Beneath the Brine: acquire an Infernus and speed away doing drive-bys at 245 mph, swerving between semis as if on a suicide mission.
In all fairness, that’s what you do in GTA V regardless of the soundtrack. But this number is like the nitro-jetpack that transfigures your invincibility complex. I first heard The Family Crest on Tiny Desk (below). While the make-up and the instrumental variety make them more versatile compared to your typical 4 piece band, they convey far more on an orchestra, string-quartet quality with a tinge that I would describe as… well, vengeance. With a backup choir, this approaches what you normally hear in the “epic”-genre. If the Tiny Desk concert is anything to go by, this promises to be a fun set at SxSW.
The Family Crest plays St David’s Bethell Hall at 830PM on March 18.