Last week the Howard Theatre saw one DC-based musician reaching the end of his long road while two other groups began their own journeys.
Fellow Creatures kicked off the night with their hypnotizing mix of electronica, prog and pristine harmonies. While the duo (expanded to a four piece live) of Sam McCormally and Will McKinley-Ward has yet to put out an album proper (their upcoming debut album is being co-produced by none other than Louis Weeks himself), they’ve amassed an impressive collection of songs that continue to morph and mutate when performed live. Where those songs finally end up remains to be seen, but seeing them worked through in front of a live audience provides a wealth of thrilling, unexpected moments.
DC’s best/worst kept “secret” band, The El Mansouris took the stage next. An unexpected supergroup of DC-area musicians (including Fiona Kohrman, Margot MacDonald, Alex Braden from Young Rapids, Sam Raymond, formerly of Rival Skies, and Drew Hagelin of Cigarette), The El Mansouris have only a few performances under their belt. But if the highly polished set they delivered is any indication, they’re already a tight unit with a clear identity. Just like Fellow Creatures, harmonies play a large role in The El Mansouri’s Music, but the group steers clear of any technical fireworks in favor of a more populist blending of indie rock and folk that charms one minute and provides sonic pyrotechnics the next. This was the largest stage on which the group had performed to date, and they took full advantage of the space, surrounding themselves in glowing orbs of canvas-dimmed light, providing a simple yet effective ambiance that underlined one of the few things we know about the band at this point: They mean business.
Also in the “means business” column: Louis Weeks.