Fang Island at Rock and Roll Hotel

On Saturday I went to see one of my absolute favorite bands, Fang Island, at Rock and Roll Hotel in DC. It was my first time seeing them live, though their album Major has powered me through many, many days since its release in 2012.

I left with a (free) cute little poster of them that looked like this:


I was welcomed at RRH by a super-pleasant surprise: The New Trust, a punk band I’ve known for just about all my adult life, was the opener. They’re from Sonoma County, CA, specifically Santa Rosa, which I lived in/worked in/played around in bands for about six years, from 2004 on (before I moved to Oakland for a couple years, then relocated to DC). Basically, it’s my other home town. One of the band members, Josh Staples, was in The Velvet Teen, another Sonoma County band I’ve known about and enjoyed for a long-ass time. Unfortunately, I got to the show late, and missed their set by just a hair, but caught Josh and Sara (singer/bass player and singer/guitarist), and said “hi,” and “weird to see Santa Rosa folks here,” between sets.

Something I learned about myself that night: my brain does not differentiate between regional bands and national acts. Pretty much everything just registers as something I know, or something I don’t. It struck me as strange that not everyone knew about The Velvet Teen or The New Trust. Everyone should. Look both bands up if you’re reading this and don’t know who they are. They’re awesome.

When I arrived, Zorch was setting up their gear. Zorch is an electronic, psychedelic, A/V, noise explosion – and it’s just two dudes. They seem like nice (if intense) fellas and they put on a really engaging show. To be honest, if it weren’t for the cool visuals behind the guys, I probably would have wandered off from their set, but the sum total of the Zorch experience is a thing of beauty. They kept the lights low, directing attention away from the band members themselves and toward the gyrating, shifting visuals, encouraging audience members to lose themselves in the experience. I found myself thinking about the new and different ways bands were engaging with their audiences, and realizing this act was kicking ass at creating a collective mind-melt (yeah, I said melt). I was really impressed the drummer could keep up the chaotic, manic rhythms and sing at the same time.

Mmm…Describing Zorch is no good, you gotta see it. Here’s an example of their A/V:

Actually, seeing it’s no good, you gotta go to a show and experience it. Bring ear plugs.

Fang Island was up next. Now, I absolutely adore Fang Island. They’re out of Brooklyn, just this wall-of-awesome, speed-strumming, guitar-harmonizing, power-pop, high-fiving-angels sort of rock. Mmm…liiike, if you took Tokyo Police Club, took out the vocals, double-to-tripled the guitars and intermittently amped the strumming speed to metal. There are few other bands that can immediately lift my spirits like this band, and even fewer still that propel me through my workdays and commutes in the same way.

Two Fang Island songs that light up my life: Asunder and Dooney Rock.

One of my fondest memories of listening to Fang Island was touring around Ireland, and Dooney Rock popped up in my cue. I damn near died of happiness! And yes, I insisted it was added to the music cue playing over the tour bus’ PA system. The bus-full of old folks loved it.

The last band that played on Saturday was Tera Melos. I’ve been aware of these guys for quite a while, but I think this was the first time I saw them live. They’re out of Sacramento, and like Fang Island, they’re instrumental, with minimal vocals. I stuck around for just a bit of their set, but my eardrums were blown out from the last two bands (and I’m old now) so I left before they finished. They are kinda ambient and math-rock put together. After the visual fire-hurricane of Zorch and the wall-of-awesome of Fang Island, it probably would have taken a super-human feat to sway me into staying through Tera Melos’ set. So don’t let my actions sway you from catching Tera Melos if they come back to town. Good band, and they seem like good guys.

It’d been a while since I’d seen a show, and I definitely got my money’s worth on Saturday. The New Trust and Fang Island (and Zorch and Tera Melos) are what’s up.


About ckstackhouse

Author of suspense books, creative consultant, blogger on culture and publishing.
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