A recent sold-out double-header at DC9 gave those lucky enough to get tickets the chance to see two of the most buzzed about up-and-coming young bands in indie rock today. Oakland, CA-based Jay Som, the project of singer/songwriter Melina Duterte, and Vancouver, Canada-based trio The Courtneys have been getting a lot of attention lately, and their performances revealed why. Both bands performed short but poignant sets that showcased their talents and left the packed audience wanting for more.
Duterte released her first proper full-length album, Everybody Works, on Polyvinyl records last month (an previous album, Turn Into, which compiled early self-recorded songs, was released by the label last year). She noted early in the performance that it was her first time playing in DC with a full band, but the group sounded as polished as if they had been playing her songs for years. With a sound reminiscent of the moody 90s alternative rock of Juliana Hatfield and Tanya Donelly, Duterte and her band played through a nine-song set made up of songs from the new album, including the title track, “The Bus Song,” and “1 Billion Dogs,” as well as several slightly older songs including “Turn Into” and “I Think You’re Alright.”
The Courtneys also displayed a strong 90s influence, though theirs tended bit more in the more punky direction while still maintaining a strong pop base. With the release of their second album The Courtneys II in February, the band gained the distinction of being the first non-New Zealand band signed to the storied Flying Nun record label, joining Kiwi luminaries such as The Clean, The Verlaines, and The Bats on the label’s roster. The majority of the band’s eight-song set was drawn from the new album, including “Silver Velvet,” “Country Song,” and “Frankie,” with two tracks (“Nü Sundae” and “Social Anxiety”) from their debut thrown into the mix as well.
Toronto-based pop punks Little Junior joined as openers for the night, returning to DC9 for the second time this year (the first time opening for July Talk in February). Their debut single, “Cry Baby,” was released in January.