Earlier this month, the radio station I work for, WMUC, was given the opportunity to present a show at the Black Cat. To my delight it was a Girlpool show, with Land of Talk and Forth Wanderers opening.
This was the promotional picture I'd made for the event, and only realized afterward that it could be seen as an inappropriate depiction of Girlpool's name... but I've chosen not to view it through that lens. Cats and water are wholesome!!!
I spent most of the evening at the back of the venue, tabling, but made my way up into the front of the crowd for parts of each set. (If there's anything about myself that I'm most proud of, it's my ability to make my way to the front of a crowd without annoying anyone.)
Luckily, for the Girlpool set I was able to stand backstage off to the side, giving me a clear view of the band. Their set was a ton of fun, mostly because you can tell just how much Cleo and Harmony love playing together. Whispering to one another and making jokes to the crowd about their elementary school, it is evident that they built their band on the foundation of a great friendship.
Their sound is equally thrilling, almost like the musical equivalent of playing a game of pinball or tag. Leaving it all on the stage, their biting words come loudly through the speakers, conveying their truth with abandon. Playing songs off of their second album, Powerplant, both Cleo and Harmony seem comfortable in their newer material.
One of my favorite discoveries of 2017 was Forth Wanderers. I couldn't possibly try to pin point just how many times I've listened to "Painting of Blue" this past year. It was a lot. Needless to say, I was really looking forward to seeing them play live, and they did not disappoint.
The band, originally from New Jersey, has a unique style of garage rock. Ava Trilling's drowsy vocals are effortlessly cool, adding a layer of nonchalance to some truly impressive instrumentation. They played some newer songs, some for the first time live. Trilling joked about how it might suck, but it was far from it.
Having signed to Sub Pop, their new record will be released on April 27th, but their latest single, "Not For Me" will have to hold me over for the next two months. They'll be back on the road with Hoops in May. (5/3 - DC, 5/5 Philly, 5/5 - Brooklyn.)
After the Land of Talk set, I overhear a stranger behind me say "That was awesome as fuck." And they were right! Elizabeth Powell is one of the most captivating performers I've had the pleasure of seeing. She put on an impressive solo set- commanding the audience with the expansive, yet simple blend of her vocals and guitar.
Compared to her 2017 record, Life After Youth, her solo performance was a bit more raw. Powell's sound is gritty and driven, with a voice that lends itself to both strength and vulnerability. She'll be back in DC on April 26th.