The best thing about venues like DC9 is that, if you are lucky, you can catch “the next big thing” before they start playing the bigger rooms down the street in a space barely bigger than a DC basement. If you are very lucky, as the audience last Thursday was, you can catch a full bill of up and coming acts with a few dozen of your closest friends.
The first band to hit the stage, DC’s own Priests, has garnered extensive praise from the local press for its brash, raw riffs and commanding stage presence. They packed the house early and infused the room with a buzzy energy before either of the evening’s main events even unpacked their gear.
The room barely had a chance to catch its collective breath before Hunters took to the stage. Hailing from Brooklyn, Hunters practice the kind of high energy, low fidelity post punk revivalism that would have played just as well at the Mercury Lounge in 2003 as it did on Thursday night. Indeed, watching lead singer Isabel Almeida scream into the mic and writhe about on the stage (and in the audience…and balled up in her shirt…) conjured visions of nothing less than Karen O’s antics at the, now legendary, early Yeah Yeah Yeahs shows.
Bleached in the middle of KILLING IT @ DC9It is hard to imagine that this similarity is unintentional, given the involvement of YYY guitarist Nick Zinner in the band’s (excellent) EP. It is also notable that, since that EP, Hunters appear to have shifted their focus from two part boy/girl arrangements (between Almeida and guitarist Derek Watson) to a clear lead singer and band dynamic (with occasional backing vocals from Watson). Whether this shift is solely for the live audience or in their recorded output is a matter that will only be settled once their next album or EP is finally released. Regardless, it worked live and should play well on the larger stages that are clearly in Hunters future.
Bleached brought a decidedly different feel to DC‘s stage to close out the night. Where Hunters were all rough edges and raw intensity, Bleached exuded the polished professionalism that one would expect of sisters (Jennifer and Jessie Clavin) playing in their second band together. Their jangly guitar work, tight harmonies, and conversational stage presence served to further highlight and complement the earlier portions of the bill.
Bleached traffics in deceptively sunny fare, fusing the sounds of the girl groups, early punk, and California surf-pop over frequently melancholy lyrics. But, lest you think the headliner was some Best Coast knock off, rest assured these ladies brought the noise as well (the “punk” part definitely takes over in a live setting). The Clavins ripped through lively renditions of most of the songs on their solid debut album Ride Your Heart, pausing every so often to banter with the crowd (and request shots of tequila from the nearby bar). They got their shots and their applause as they brought the house down.