While Kevin is hitting the big name indie acts this weekend, I’m stuck in DC due to monetary and time constraints, plus collegiate obligations (Maryland vs. Morgan State…GO TERPS!). So I took it upon myself to find a small show somewhere to hit, and after seeing Future Islands in a living room last week, the only logical evolution was another Baltimore band, Double Dagger, in the back of a pizza shop. An amazing pizza shop.
That’s the first thing I have to talk about: the pizza. Comet Ping Pong is a ping pong themed pizza shop in Northwest Washington, DC where there were 10-year-olds playing ping pong out front, the tables were actually ping pong tables, and, I’m assuming if there wasn’t a show, you could play ping pong in the back. It was bustling and we watched the guys from Double Dagger sit and eat pizza while the guitar player from HUME was a friend of a friend and joined us.
The pizza was fantastic. As someone on a gluten-free diet, they were able to accommodate my needs with a delicious pie with a crispy crust while washing it down with a Dr. Brown’s root beer, which was one of the best root beers I’d ever tasted. It was fantastic and filling and set the stage for a great show in a tiny backroom.
Sick Weapons opened and the Baltimore-based five-piece was off and running. Intense female vocals along with seemingly not-quite-pop-punk guitar riffs powered the band through short songs. Sick Weapons sounded like a less sophisticated, less hook-driven version of Be Your Own Pet, but still possessed much power in the music. The sound of the band was, however, victimized by a low vocal mix, making it difficult to hear actual words. The vocals just became another layer of instrumentation.
The band did bring its sense of humor as the lead singer Ellie Beziat said, “Hi. We’re Beach House. Get ready to feel some emotions” after the first song. With the big-name Baltimore act in the area this weekend, the remark was met by laughter from all parts of the venue.
HUME followed up with some extended jams that sounded like the lovechild between Minus The Bear and Dirty Projectors with a Jeremy Earl doppelganger on the drums. The sound for HUME was better than the sound for Sick Weapons, but some of the songs seemed to drag, and sometimes one song felt like two, but you weren’t sure if a new song had started without a pause because there were still similarities in the sound. I’ll admit I was getting pretty tired during HUME’s set, but the guys seemed to be having a good time with their hometown audience cheering them. But if you’re a Minus The Bear fan, I’d definitely recommend checking them out.
Finally, the gem of the night, Double Dagger took the stage. After some Baltimore-Washington cocaine banter, the first bass notes of the night started and immediately people started to jump up and down and I realized I’d forgotten how intense Double Dagger really is. Just check out this video of “No Allies,” the first track off their album More to get an idea:
My only prior experience with Double Dagger had been at Whartscape 2008 when I ended up getting kicked in the head and someone took a tom off the drum set and threw it into the crowd, hitting someone in the head and dazing them.
While no drums were thrown, everyone was throwing their bodies around with reckless abandon for every second of every song. Singer Nolen Strals was all over the venue, stretching is microphone cord out to its extent and jumping in rhythm with every pause and every crash. It truly was a spectacle to see and reminded me of why Double Dagger is one of the most popular bands on the Baltimore scene. The sound of just bass and drums was amazing, seeming so minimalist but at the same time filled the entire room. It really was amazing.
So while Kevin gets the big nationally known names this weekend, I was able to find my own little corner of Baltimore in the back of a pizza shop in Washington, DC and see a truly intense, truly punk show. Which was so awesome.
P.S. While Kevin is catching Panda Bear, Deakin, Prince Rama, and DJ Dog Dick at Ottobar tomorrow night, I may or may not be catching The Drums and Surfer Blood at 9:30 Club. But that’s going to be a game-time decision so we’ll see.