From Khelan Bhatia. Follow Khelan on Twitter @KhelanB or email him at khelan[AT]borderstan.com.
Yep, I know, I know. It’s been a while since I’ve written a BorderSound column. In my defense, that’s mainly because it’s been a while since I’ve dragged my ass to a show. Well, the drought ended this past weekend when I went over to the Black Cat, right in the heart of Borderstan, to see Dragonette.
I’m sure half of you just said “Awesome!” and pumped your fist in the air, while I’m sure the other half just said “Who?” For you lot in the latter camp, I’m sure you’ve heard this track. On the same page? Excellent. Back to our regularly scheduled programming.
Now, this is the third time I had a chance to see this wonderful Canadian electropop group. And I’m more than happy to say that each of Dragonette’s shows were a marked improvement over the last time I saw them… and they were pretty damn good to begin with. Performances, especially in a relatively small venue, can only succeed if there’s a direct connection with the audience; like a pleasant feedback loop. And Martina Sorbara, the lead singer, is as charismatic as she is gorgeous and talented. I tell you… it’s a treat to see a a band perform that’s so confident and assured in their talent.
Before I go any further, I’d be remiss in not mentioning the opening band, the Knocks. Openers, like an appetizer before a main course, are a tricky business. You need to complement the meal, yet not overpower it. I’ve been to concerts where the openers so overpowered the main act, I wish they’d been the headliners (e.g. The Presets before Cut Copy in ’08).
And I’ve been to shows where I’m convinced the opening act wandered in and completely killed the mood. Liz Phair, I’m looking at you with your ill-advised acoustic set before the Flaming Lips. Thankfully, the Knocks, with their groovy half-DJ/half-pop band set, found that sweet spot that got the audience primed for Martina and the gang.
On to the Main Event
You know when you stare at a piece of art or listen to a song and you can’t quite remember every brushstroke or lyric, but you vividly recall how it made you feel? Yeah, that was the Dragonette show. I can’t tell you for exactly how long they played (not long enough!) or the sequence of their songs, but I do remember this… I remember being unbelievably happy.
And feeling alive. Especially when they played a track from their second album: “Pick Up the Phone.” The song is amazing on its own. But the audience, including yours truly, went a little nutty when they mixed in Cyndi Lauper’s classic “Time After Time.”
I’m pretty sure all of 14th Street lost their sh*t when the aforementioned, “Hello,” came on.
It’d been two years since we saw Dragonette in the District. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait so long next time.
Borderstan welcomes Laura Herman, who will be contributing local weekend picks and profiling different events, happy hours, and neighborhood spots each week. Laura is a healthcare consultant by day but a D.C. nightlife, food and drink enthusiast by night. Originally from New Jersey, she moved to town from Boston after graduation. Laura has lived in Borderstan (the Dupont part) since June 2009 and hangs out a lot in the Dupont, U Street and 14th Street areas. She enjoys sitting at the 17th Street dog park on weekends, wishing that she had a dog (which she admits creeps out the actual dog owners). Follow Laura on Twitter @Lmhhabs or send her an email.
The weekend at the end of a four-day workweek always feels like it can’t come soon enough. Even though this week was short, I found myself dreaming about Friday night while I was walking to work on Tuesday morning.
Well, good news — the weekend’s almost here! And even though we’re now in the middle of winter, there’s no shortage of fun things going on in the Borderstan ‘hood this weekend. Here are my picks for this weekend:
Weekends can start on Thursday if you’re lucky or just… motivated. Check out a new happy hour venue this Thursday night while hoping that the forecast of possible evening snow actually comes true. If you haven’t already been, I really like Veritas for a low key drink and conversation.
1409 Playbill Cafe, at 1409 14th Street NW is a favorite hangout for locals. It is also a good cheap spot for before or after the theater: basic diner food and a neighborhood bar and laid-back atmosphere… always amusing.
“Eclipsed” is playing at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, 641 D Street NW: “Eclipsed exposes how much an individual sacrifices to survive wartime atrocities. The ways these characters respond to trauma and empower themselves can be seen in conflict zones around the world.”
“Constructed Color: Amish Quilts” is at The Textile Museum, 2320 S Street NW: “Amish quilts are among the most striking and famous of all American quilt types. Renowned for their play of color and strong geometric patterns, their similarities to modern art have been noted ever since the 1971 exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York entitled Abstract Design in American Quilts. The parallels are perhaps most striking with regard to color field paintings and art that explores the manipulation of visual effect.”
The Annual Labor Day Concert in Washington is on Sunday, September 6, at the U.S. Capitol (west lawn). The National Symphony Orchestra will perform at 8 p.m. The concert is free and tickets are not required. In case of inclement weather, the concert will be moved to the Kennedy Center Concert Hall.