LIVE: Oberhofer @ The Black Cat - 6/6/12

With hair borrowed from Phil Lynott and shirts borrowed from “Weird Al” Yankovic, you’d think more people would know Brad Oberhofer by sight. However, not once but twice was I asked “Is that Oberhofer?” as the Danvilles played their opening set. While both bands were impressive, it’s a safe bet that after this show no one in the Black Cat crowd will be making that mistake again.

Kicking off their set with a raw, aggressive version of “Gotta Go,” Oberhofer (Brad named the band after himself) was inundated with camera flashes as he bounced across the stage and attacked his guitar. Perhaps spending much of his early songwriting career cooped up in a bedroom recording on a laptop has made Oberhofer that much more excitable when he plays live – even for a 21 year-old he seems to have boundless energy, frequently jumping off drum risers, kicking amplifiers, and sneering into the microphone.

Oberhofer performing at The Black Cat last weekOberhofer has released a number of singles and one record, Time Capsules II, and most of the set was culled from the album. His two calling cards – the glockenspiel (weapon of every indie rock god) and his love of oohing and aahing during songs (his first single was called “o0Oo0O0o”) were out in full force by the third song, “I Know You.” The glockenspiel also helped to drive “Landline,” one of many Oberhofer songs that somehow make bad breakups sound happy, and had the sizable crowd jumping. His favorite phoneme (to repeat: “ooooooooooo”) was utilized repeatedly in an appropriately speedy version of “Cruisin’ FDR.”

Oberhofer was at its best, however, when it was just guys with guitars rocking it out. Guitarist Matthew Scheiner and bassist Ben Roth provide solid backup to Oberhofer’s wild style, and drummer Pete Sustarsic easily keeps up with the bands frequent stops and starts. The polished, multi-track sound of Time Capsules II is worlds away from the pleasantly unrefined sound the band captures live. Oberhofer turned the quiet guitar plucking of “Haus” into an Eddie Van Halen-style fingerboard showcase, complete with a giant leap from the drum riser. Not content with jumping from the stage, Oberhofer wandered into the crowd during “Dead Girls Dance” and ripped a solo while standing on the bar.

The band debuted one new song during the 40-minute set (telling the crowd it was the first time the song had been played in America) a tempo-changing scorcher called “Earplugz.” The single encore, “Gold,” had the crowd exhausted but definitely wanting more. If this band can channel the energy of these shows into their recorded music, it’s only a matter of time before Oberhofer is jumping off of much bigger stages.

June 6 was also Local Music Day, and appropriately, two great local bands kicked off the show. The Sea Life, out of Rockville played a tight brand of slacker rock along the lines of Modest Mouse. Despite some early jitters, the band played well and harmonized even better.

It was the second act, however, that made the just-arriving crowd take notice. The Danvilles, from Falls Church, blasted hard out of the gate with a blistering rockabilly set that was equal parts Strokes and Reverend Horton Heat. The electrified hoedown threatened to upstage Oberhofer as it continued, with frontman Mike Hindert (who also plays bass for the Bravery) alternately screaming and crooning, and his band bringing a prodigious amount of attitude and skill to the mix. The group has no shows currently scheduled, but let’s hope we hear more from this boisterous local group.

Ask your barkeep for two Oberhofers to go (click below) to see the rest of our shots from the show.