It’s been a while since we’ve heard any new music from Blonde Redhead, who released their most recent album Barragán in 2014, but the indie rock trio has been busy this fall taking a look back. First, there was the release of Masculin Féminin, a box set covering the period of their first two albums, put out by Numero Group in late September. Then, in October, the band embarked on a brief tour playing their 2004 album Misery is a Butterfly (almost) in its entirety, backed by the American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME). For their DC stop, the band returned to the Howard Theatre, where they last played in 2014.
Singer, guitarist, and sometimes keyboardist Kazu Makino took center stage, flanked on her left by twin brothers Amedeo and Simone Pace (on guitar/vocals and drums, respectively), and on her right by the five-piece string section. In front of a backdrop depicting the front cover of Misery is a Butterfly, the group started right into the album with “Elephant Woman,” and played through most of the record, albeit in a new song order and leaving out two tracks, “Maddening Cloud” and “Equus.” The new arrangements by ACME didn’t change the songs greatly; rather, the strings served to enhance them and more accurately recreate the album arrangements than band has previously been able to do live on their own. For the fans that made up the audience, hearing these fuller versions of the songs live made for a special evening.
After closing the main set with “Pink Love,” the penultimate track on the album, the band returned to the stage to play three songs from Barragán – “Mind to Be Had,” “No More Honey,” and “Defeatist Anthem (Harry and I).” Makino noted that the band, along with the string ensemble, had just been in the studio recording new music, and they closed the show out with two new songs, “Three O’Clock” and “Golden Light.”
Eric Slick, best known as the drummer of Dr. Dog, opened the show, playing songs from his upcoming solo album accompanied by singer-songwriter Natalie Prass.