For many, 2017 was the year they discovered the Mattson 2. The twins from Los Angeles, Jared and Johnathan Matson, had a chance encounter with Toro y Moi's Chaz Bundick. Touring with Bundick as openers created a unique rapport, one that led to the intriguing side project, Chaz Bundick Meets the Mattson 2. It was a laid-back album that flowed well with the sound Bundick crafted in What Now?, but it was clear that the guitars and drums of the Mattson 2 had a big part in that. With a mini-east coast tour kicking off at Songbyrd, they proved why they were sought after in the first place: because they're damn good at what they do.
The dapper duo (dressed in eye-catching patterns, courtesy of DC resident Taylor Antonio) aren’t ones for live vocals, but when you’re as technically proficient as the Mattson 2 (they received their master's degrees in music composition/improvisation from UC Irvine), the instruments are really the ones doing all the singing. On guitar, Jared’s gratuitous use of whammy bars and harmonics could be compared to Eddie Van Halen’s standout ‘elephant’ trick - but with a lot more tremolo. It was enthralling to witness as he created some very-out-there sounds during his solos. His use of looping to create two whole band's worth of guitars was so quick and effective that it was easy to miss the fact that anything was being looped in the first place. But it could also have been easy to miss because Johnathan is just as good on drums with his offbeat rhythms and Buddy Rich-esque quick fills. But it's important to note that they're not a jazz duo - their influences are a bit wider than that. Jared's army of guitar pedals allowed him to switch from deep bass lines all the way to reverb-soaked wailing guitars in an instant. The psychedelic element to their music, like in "Disco Kid," is part of the reason why they found a musical peer in Chaz Bundick. Combined, the twins' undeniable skill took the crowd on all kinds of strange trips at Songbyrd. Their latest release is Star Stuff as Chaz Bundick Meets the Mattson 2.
Opening for the Mattson 2 was R&B band FootsXColes. The duo of Foots on drums and Coles on keys were joined by guitarist and bassist, creating a full sound complete with some exciting solos from all involved. In addition to playing songs from their upcoming album that they're in the midst of recording (like the bouncy track "Moonlight"), they played a few covers, like Kanye West's "Paranoid" and Crosby Stills & Nash's "Just a Song Before I Go." They've been cutting their teeth in the DC DIY scene, but they're becoming a must-see band for R&B lovers who want to see what DC music has to offer.