BRNDA, Wooden Indian Burial Ground, Hex Net, Loi Loi - Velvet Lounge - 2014-06-07
Twice in a week, I went to shows with minimal planning. Hanging out downtown after the DC Pride Parade, my friends had vague plans to meet up with another friend on U St. Turns out this other friend was there for the show, and I was easily convinced.
I arrived near the start of Loi Loi's set. These guys are new to the scene, and from what I can gather their backstory involves multilingual siblings working for the U.S. abroad in China for a time, leading to up-beat indie-synth-rock sung in English, Chinese, and Spanish (and they usually style their name “Loi Loi 吕吕”). I found their set to be energetic and fun. Their songs had variety, but were generally hooky, with a solid rhythm and engaging keys. I was not able to find any recorded music of theirs afterwards, so it seems for now the only way to hear them is in person.
I went down for a beer after Loi Loi’s set, and accidentally missed the entirety of Hex Net. So I have no idea what they’re about. Look, this isn’t serious journalism, here….
Wooden Indian Burial Ground are a noisy blues/rockabilly outfit from Portland, Oregon. As far as I can tell, their style is what you’d call Psychobilly, which too be honest I haven’t listened to much of before. I said Loi Loi were energetic before, but these guys were even more so. They played a long set, with a high tempo throughout, and kept it going the whole time. From time to time, the distorted guitar piled on noise and distortion to the point that I’m not sure notes mattered anymore. The drummer and bassist had serious chops, keeping it going the entire time.
That said, I did find Wooden Indian Burial Ground’s style to be a bit repetitive. While technically excellently played, by the fourth or so song, the baselines all started to sound the same, and there’s only so many times a guitar can descend into chaotic guitar noise madness before it feels stale. I think I’d have been happier if their set was shorter by a song or two.
Last up was BRNDA, DC-natives who I believe were formerly Brenda before optimizing their name for search engines. These guys (and gal) seem hip. They blend bouncy irreverence with a lo-fi indie aesthetic that at some times reminded me of the B-52s and at other The Walkmen. They put their drummer at the front of the stage, presumably because she sings vocals on some songs (though her mic stand was not cooperating), which is an interesting change of pace. I’m not sure if it was because of the altered setup, or their attitude, but the rhythm section was fun to watch.
Unfortunately, my exhaustion from the long day and long show overcame me, and I had to duck out before BRNDA finished their set, so these impressions come from their first 4-or-so songs. All in all, I would say I enjoyed the parts of the local DC bands’s sets that I did catch, and hope to see them around again.