The Posies were one of the premiere power pop groups of the 90s, having released three classic albums on a major label (as well as two independent albums bookending those releases) during the decade. After the release of Success in 1998 the band went on hiatus, and it looked for a time like they were done. But they returned in 2005 with Every Kind of Light, and though their releases have become more sporadic (the follow-up, Blood/Candy, didn’t come out until five years later), that has only led to word of new activity by the group being cause for even more excitement.
It’s not like the core duo of Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer have been idle. Both have been busy, playing as members of Big Star (and subsequent recurring tribute Big Star’s Third) and with their own individual projects. Last year it seemed like the band might be done – long-time drummer Darius Minwalla passed away suddenly and bassist Joe Skyward was diagnosed with cancer (to which he succumbed earlier this year). But Stringfellow and Auer persevered, and to the surprise of many announced the release of a new album, Solid States (due out this Friday). Always looking to do something different, the band embarked on a “Pop Up” tour, playing non-traditional venue spaces to small, intimate audiences. Last Tuesday, 50 lucky DC area fans got to see the band play a house show in northwest DC filled with both new songs and fan favorites from the band’s catalog.
The band for this tour is a trio, made up of Stringfellow and Auer, along with new drummer Frankie Siragusa. They started out with three new songs – “We R Power,” “Unlikely Places,” and “Squirrel vs. Snake” – and despite the fact that many in the audience were likely hearing the songs for the first time, it didn’t matter. They were immediately captivated. A quick jump backward to 1993’s Frosting on the Beater with “Dream All Day” was immediately followed by two more new songs, “Scattered” and “March Climes,” after which the band was joined by local DC musician Kate Rears Burgman (of Short Lives and We Were Pirates) for vocals on “Licenses to Hide” and “The Glitter Prize” from Blood/Candy.
The set continued on with a mix of new and old, featuring other long-time fan favorites like “Please Return It” and “Throwaway” from 1996’s Amazing Disgrace. Stringfellow and Auer jumped and posed as if they were playing on a much larger stage, and at times, the crowd was moving so much that it seemed like the floor might give in. As the two-hour long set drew to a close (and as the band had to quiet down to keep the neighbors happy), Siragusa left the stage, leaving Stringfellow and Auer to finish the night with a more mellow (but no less intense) set.