Bobbie Allen has had quite the year. After releasing a few buzz-worthy singles in the past year and singing on tour with Odesza, the DC-based musician (who goes by the stage name Young Summer) recently brought her talents back to a packed U Street Music Hall. Though there’s a profusion of strong synth-pop talent coming out of the woodwork these days, Young Summer proved on Friday night that her smooth and subdued vocals combined with an expansive electronic sound are what has helped her gain recognition and continue to stand out from the pack.
Accompanied by a drummer and keyboardist Jan Rosenfeld (local music followers may know him from DC’s synth-pop band Lightwaves), Allen took the stage to a cheering hometown crowd. Owing her brand of smooth crooning over expansive synth-pop melodies to new wave and 80s music, she also brings a modern sensibility to the genre (no big hairstyles here though – sorry, 80s enthusiasts). Her latest track, “Paused Parade”, with its jazzier stylings, is a slight departure from the throwback vibe of the rest of her catalog, but on Friday it sat nicely alongside that older material, highlighting her strength as a songwriter that’s been evident since “way” back on 2014’s Siren.
Clearly feeling right at home with the crowd, Allen bantered playfully with her fans in-between songs. As she took a sip from her cup, someone in the crowd yelled, “What are you drinking?”, to which she replied, “Vodka!” At another point during the set, she noticed someone belting out the words to her songs. She took his hand as they sang the words together, bringing smiles to a lot of faces in the crowd. It was a lovely moment for fans as much as it was for Allen herself.
Young Summer still has a lot of potential. It can be hard to break out in a crowd of new wave-tinged singer-songwriters, but her personable nature and the lushness of her songs will help her go a long way. She doesn’t try emulating hit radio-influenced upbeat synth-pop - instead, she commands the crowd’s attention with the intricate and otherworldly sound of her music. She has the voice and the musicianship, and as long as she keeps the buzz going with her powerful songs, her synth-pop will find those eager for a unique voice in the crowd.
Keeping it a local affair, Young Summer recruited DC duo The Galaxy Electric to kick the night off. Coming on stage in throwback garb and sound that’s reminiscent of the 60s mod scene, Jacqueline Caruso and Augustus Green served a different kind of musical palette with their vintage synths. Their debut album, Everything is Light and Sound, is currently available on Bandcamp and Spotify.