French Admirals, the DC power pop trio, headlined a crowded bill of indie rock bands at the Rock and Roll Hotel Friday night.
The room got agreeably about a third full, and the audience danced along and engaged with all of the bands. I unfortunately missed the first opener but the French Admirals, Feral Conservatives and Exit Vehicles gave me plenty to hear once I arrived.
The Admirals opened with “We Will Create Our Own Reality” from their debut LP Closer Than Brothers. It’s a breezy punk song that showcases the guitar and bass work of vocalist Robert France and bassist The Admiral respectively. If there’s one thing you can bet on when it comes to the French Admirals, however, it’s that they are never just going to “sound the same” as the last song. The next song “It’s All There” is really rather reminiscent of the Counting Crows. Later, “Feelings at 4am” evokes a similar vibe of listening to 90s alternative radio rock.
Another song, “Grave” (I may have missed its full name?) is a much more rollicking rockabilly number, highlighting the ability of the French Admirals to completely do something entirely different from song to song. The French Admirals also are dropping new songs into their set, so it may be worth catching them soon if you haven’t seen them since the summer release of their album.
The French Admirals are on tour right now with the Feral Conservatives, the duo of Rashie Rosenfarb and Matt Francis. Catch them tonight in Charlottesville, Va., and tomorrow in Chapel Hill, NC.
Visiting from Norfolk, Va., Feral Conservatives can go from a laidback folky sound to much more raucous punk from song to song. The video for their new song “Misfire,” released earlier this month (and directed by Matt), demonstrates their easygoing side.
“Misfire” hails from their upcoming EP, the Feeling Noise Becomes, out Feb. 10, 2015, on Richmond’s Egg Hunt Records. Rashie’s electric mandolin gives the band a unique sound throughout and her voice pleasantly transitions from sweet to sour from song to song, all the while maintaining a bit of a twee vibe.
Their cover of “Here Comes Your Man” by the Pixies hits the right note, demonstrating the band’s affinity for lo-fi college rock while also giving them the opportunity to put their own flavor on a staple that has clearly influenced them.
Hands down, the most memorable thing about DC’s Exit Vehicles is the sensation that you are literally seeing double as one of the Brothers Polon are performing on each side of the stage. The twins Brian and Adam are dead ringers for one another, and Brian is playing guitar and Adam is playing bass? Or is Adam playing guitar and Brian bass? (It is Adam on bass, I’m assured.)
Thankfully, frontman Brian Easley keeps you grounded. He displays a loose rock-and-roll spirit, and he’s comfortable chatting with the audience. Although a young band, Exit Vehicles seem to be writing new songs over the past year pretty steadily, introducing their audience to unreleased songs such as “Like a Record” and “Face Behind.” The songs consistently give off a good groove while the guitars are shimmery and the drums are snappy.
Exit Vehicles close with “Millennial,” a song from their first EP about exploring the world and touring while young. Check out a performance of “Face Behind” from an August show at the Rock and Roll Hotel below.
Keep your eyes open for French Admirals and Exit Vehicles around DC, as they are certain to perform at one of our local indie rock venues again soon.