When you're talking about live music, it really comes down to one thing, the energy that a band and the crowd create in the moment. You’ve either got or ya don’t. So this is an opportunity for other bands to take notice, because everyone walked out of the Rosebuds/Hospitality/Moderate show with a yearning for when that will happen again.
I’m a newbie to the Rosebuds and their music, having only seen them as the opener for Bon Iver earlier this year, where the venue was filled mainly with his fans, not theirs. So it was great to walk into the Rock and Roll Hotel for their show where the North Carolina to DC-based band The Moderate was already rolling through their set. Utilizing a guitar heavy sound that nods to Built to Spill and Modest Mouse, this group has also really focused on their skills as a tight melodic pop unit. And one of the most exciting parts of their driving set was when they would let the songs open up and breathe with an occasional jam, leaving the audience wondering where they might go, by which they guided us all in for a chaotic, but controlled landing. This really set the tone for a fun night.
Hospitality opening for The RosebudsNext up was The Hospitality from Brooklyn, NY, where all types of music seemed to be thrown in the pot in traditional NY style. Pulling inspiration from both the Rosebuds and Wild Flag, who were also playing across town on the same night, this four piece focuses on textured, albeit slightly angular and knotty indie-pop. Catchy, clean pop string lines and full band vocal harmonies, led by front woman Amber Papini, were finding their place backed by dance rhythms and intricate indie pop song structures. Then with the turn of a switch they turned on jangly guitars sung with a style that harkened back to the 1930-40's. And as they made their way through a series of tracks off of their upcoming release Friends of Friends out in January on Merge, I was extremely impressed by the ease at which these different styles were melded together into a performance that never lacked energy or cohesiveness, nor did it have to rely on simply being loud to make the audience aware of it, and most noticeably, to feel it, creating a great transition to the Rosebuds.
If someone ever asks me “why should I see the Rosebuds?” I can only respond with “well, if you like to have a good time and be surrounded by good genuine people, then that’s the place for you.” And from the show opener, “Go Ahead”, through songs like “Second Bird of Paradise” and the rocker “The Woods” (my personal favorite of the night), all off of their latest album Loud Planes Fly Low, I was continually impressed by their intricate indie pop songs, which on the surface are a ton of fun, like John Hughes 80’s fun, but also in many cases, lyrically deep and dark. We’re talking a whole album about getting divorced deep, and the two people, Ivan Howard (vocals/guitar) and Kelly Crisp (keys/vocals) involved in the relationship are singing together on the stage deep.
Ivan Howard and Kelly CrispBut that aside, what came across the most clear from Ivan and Kelly and their entire band was a pure humbleness for their success up to this point, and that they were happy to be here playing music for our pleasure. I can’t count the number of times they genuinely thanked everyone for coming out and supporting them. And it was great to hear them talk about their first show in the DC area at Galaxy Hut years before, and how happy and excited they had made it this far. But stories aside, this is a group of well-tuned professional musicians. Big props also need to go out to the band they are currently playing with, who, without a doubt are part of the energy that gets created at a Rosebuds show. Getting a chance to see these players up close and personal was quite a delight, notably the crazy sounds coming out of that violin, the happiest drummer around, and a big shout out to rocking bass players from Eau Claire, Wisconsin (a town I used to reside in as well). And as I skipped out the door at the end of the night with my handmade El Jefe designed poster in hand, I found myself still singing their catchy tunes in my head as I tacked it on the wall to forever commemorate this great night of music.
The Rosebuds performing at the Rock & Roll Hotel. Photos by Andre Radloff