Freelance Whales & Miniature Tigers at Black Cat

I’m pretty anal about seeing full sets from bands, as I feel that if I go see a band, they deserve to have me stay for the whole set. It’s what makes going to festivals so hard for me. I don’t like short-changing bands. Freelance Whales was one of the bands I ended up short-changing in May at Sasquatch, as I saw about four or five of their songs at the Yeti Stage before heading over to Bigfoot to see the xx. What I heard from Freelance Whales was addicting, rather-cutesy indie rock with varied instrumentation and flair. Plus, the people were into it. Anna and Marc  saw Freelance Whales later in the summer and told me that people just went crazy for it. Therefore, I felt like I had to experience it when I had the chance. And that chance was Saturday.

But first, Miniature Tigers came through with an extremely solid set. Another band I interviewed for The Diamondback, the band brought a folky flair to the stage with frontman Charlie Brand’s acoustic guitar riffs. The band’s harmonies were spot on and the different guitar, sampler, and drum parts were spot on. Plus, Brand entered the crowd to sing on one song and was extremely engaging throughout the entire performance. I’ve spent the past two weeks diving into the band’s latest venture Fortress and recognized some of the songs, but really only the closer, “Mansion of Misery,” which did not disappoint. I’d heard good things about the band, and they did not disappoint. Definitely worth checking out again the next time they are in town.

Then it was time for Freelance Whales. Lead singer Judah Dadone remarked that Black Cat holds special meaning to him, as he went to George Washington University and helped load Bright Eyes van after a show there his freshman year. The crowd was mostly college-aged, people drinking their Dos Equis and PBRs and looking to get down to some busker jams.

Freelance Whales did not disappoint and put together a very solid set for the people. I was a little surprised that they gave away songs like “Kilojoules,” “Generator ^ First Floor,” “Hannah,” and “Location” so early, but the new songs they showcased later in the set were a great treat.

Anna had told me to watch out for people “losing their shit” during “Hannah,” and given the DC crowds I’d been around so far this fall, I fully expected the crowd to be pretty tepid before exploding during “Hannah.” However, because of the juxtaposition of the song in the set, the crowd was gradually warmed up and built up to somewhat of a freakout during “Hannah,” rather than an explosion. That being said, the crowd didn’t go as crazy as I expected, but there was still a fair number of people dropping some dance moves.

The newer songs the band showcased for the band were pleasant surprises as well, with glorious five-part harmonies that were distinctly Freelance Whales. Of course, when you think elaborate harmonies, you immediately think of Grizzly Bear, and indeed, one of the newer songs at the end of the show sounded like Grizzly Bear.

The highlight for me came at the end of the encore, when Freelance Whales busted out a cover of Broken Social Scene’s epic “7/4 (Shoreline).” It took me a few bars to catch which song it was, but I’ll admit I got the most excited I had all night when I realized. So did the girl next to me, as she was jumping probably six feet off the ground. However, the rest of the crowd seemed a little miffed as to what exactly the Freelancers were playing, which was pretty disappointing. “Shoreline” reminded me that despite how attractive different instrumentations and arrangements are, rock songs are still awesome.

Even though I was suffering from a little bit of burnout by the end of this show, it was still a great experience and nice to see two bands that are working their way up the totem pole perform and put on a good show for large crowd.

–Daniel

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