Julian Lynch, Big Troubles & Wet Dream at Subterranean A

Julian Lynch at Subterranean A. (photo by Daniel)

It’s the dawning of 2011 and that one prolific and ubiquitous New Jersey crew takes to the road to bring their jams to DC. It was exciting to see all these bands a little closer to home after my multiple jaunts up the Eastern seaboard last summer where I would invariably end up at some show with a NJ-centric lineup. No complaints there. There’s lots of goodies in this post, so definitely be sure to read all of it, even if it is a little lengthy.

Wet Dream at Subterranean A. (photo by Daniel)

Wet Dream: I really had no idea what to expect from Wet Dream, another manifestation of Family Portrait. What we ended up hearing was the synthy, spaced-out alter ego to Family Portrait’s rocking and rolling, more of an atmospheric effect with vocals with reverb to the max. Most of the time I couldn’t decide if what I was hearing was from the future or the past…one minute I could have been at a space-age dance party and the next it was a nineties dance in a high school gymnasium. There were a couple of standout songs that I would love to hear again. At times I was kind of reminded of Ariel Pink too…the Ariel Pink that plays entire sets without abandoning the audience.

Big Troubles at Subterranan A. (photo by Daniel)

Big Troubles: I don’t know what else I can say about Big Troubles that I haven’t said before (I didn’t want this paragraph to be riddled with hyperlinks so feel free to search out past coverage from yours truly). They were one of my favorites last summer and once their album Worry finally dropped on Olde English Spelling Bee, it was on constant rotation (well not literally, since I finally nabbed it on wax at the show Sunday). So of course I was stoked to see them again, and they delivered with a swift but frenzied shredfest of a set, loud as always, that included their “hits” (Drastic and Difficult, Bite Yr Tongue) and some new ones, including the closer to their set that Daniel caught in all its catchy alt-rock glory. Still an undisputed personal favorite.

Julian Lynch at Subterranean A. (photo by Daniel)

Julian Lynch: Finally the headliner of the night, Julian Lynch was once again joined by a full band (Evan Brody of Family Portrait/Wet Dream and Ian Drennan & Sam Franklin of Big Troubles). They played through some songs from last year’s fantastic Mare including my personal live favorite “Just Enough,” with its Eastern-sounding riff that draws you in and then splits into that sick interval that’s kind of dissonant, but not really in this context, and is this song in 7/8? It takes you by surprise in the best way and is killer all the way through. Another highlight was a 15 minute jam on “Travelers” that floated along with intermittent dynamic swells and subtle variations, always keeping your attention. Dare I say epic? It was much of the same that we heard at the New Year’s Eve New Jersey Spectacular the weekend before, but I was happy to have a chance to give it my undivided attention since said event involved lots of distractions in the form of catching up with pals and bros imbibing Four Loko. Live, Julian’s material is a different animal. The full band setup allows them to up the tempo and the volume, which is by no means less enthralling than the album versions. There’s a live recording of his show January 7 at Music Hall of Williamsburg over at nyctaper for an idea of what we’re talking about.

–Anna

We’d had some bloggable opportunities so far in 2011, especially with the New Year’s Eve show in Brooklyn and then seeing Lower Dens for free at the Kennedy Center on January 3, but nothing really seemed right to write about until Sunday night.

I’d been to Subterranean A before for HUME, Dustin Wong and Andrew Cedermark, and I was excited to go back. Something about the setup of that place is just too cool. It’s definitely one of the coolest spaces I’ve ever seen a show in. Plus, the guys that put everything together are just the nicest.

But the music. This was one of the coolest nights of music I’ve had in a long, long time. Probably the coolest night since seeing Future Islands in November at Black Cat. Real Estate, Titus Andronicus, Andrew Cedermark and Julian Lynch on New Year’s was fun, but at the same time, it was more of a social event than an actual  show. It was great to get a good vantage point, relax and take in the sounds.

I saw Family Portrait back in October backstage at Black Cat and have been a fan for a while, totally digging “Mega Secrets” and the two “Glide” songs from this year. Wet Dream, another incarnation of Family Portrait, definitely impressed me, as it shows that there is just so much musical inspiration from so many different directions going through Brody and Ari. The synth lines were addicting and the music just had an incredible dance feel to it. It was a lot of fun, and it’ll be interesting to see what Wet Dream puts together as time moves on.

While Anna is the resident Big Troubles expert, this was my first time seeing the group in action. I’d first heard “Freudian Slips” back in March 2010 and was fascinated with how good it was. I dove into Worry in the fall and would periodically come back to it, especially getting into it in the days leading up to this show. I’m hooked. It’s catchy and different, two things that make music especially appealing to me.

Their live set was crisp, opening with “Bite Yr Tongue” and working through their catalog, although some technical difficulties disrupted the flow of the show. Highlights for me included “Drastic and Difficult” and an untitled new song to end their set (videos below). Big Troubles’ sound did not overpower the space, but instead filled it with their own special version of shoegaze-like jams.

And finally, Julian Lynch. I was so impressed with his set on New Year’s, despite only half-paying attention to it. I finally had my chance to see him and pay attention, and I never wanted his set to end. Like Anna, I was most impressed with “Just Enough,” which is just so dynamic live. So, so dynamic. “Nen Vole” was another track that impressed me, but the highlight of the night, which also capped the night, was the 15-minute rendition of “Travelers” (watch the first six minutes below). Lynch shreds hands down. His work with Brody on “Travelers” was great, as they threw a little New Year’s flavor into the opening of the song. It honestly didn’t feel like 15 minutes, as the entire crowd was just transfixed by what was taking place in front of them. It’s early in 2011, but that’s my musical highlight, and it’ll hopefully be pretty hard to top.

–Daniel

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2 Comments

Filed under Live

2 responses to “Julian Lynch, Big Troubles & Wet Dream at Subterranean A

  1. Pingback: Video: Part 2 of Julian Lynch’s “Travelers” at Subterranean A | Fresh Heirs

  2. Pingback: Family Portrait & the Twerps in DC | Fresh Heirs

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