Live Review: Tacocat @ U Street Music Hall — 5/19/19

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Tacocat performs at U Street Music Hall on May 18, 2019. (Photos by Katherine Gaines/AmbientEye.com; Words by Juliet Van Wagenen)

Glitter-adorned indie punk rock quartet Tacocat lit up U Street Music Hall recently for a bevy of fans that may have been the only people in the city not glued to their TVs for the Game of Thrones series finale.

Fresh off the release of their third album This Mess Is a Place, which dropped May 3, the band danced, twirled, and spun out high-energy pop-punk tunes in a show that looked and felt reminiscent of a Lisa Frank poster. The Seattle-based quartet, comprised of vocalist Emily Nokes, bassist Bree McKenna, guitarist Eric Randall, and drummer Lelah Maupin, is known for its humorous, snarky lyrics, as well as their full-throttle feminism (their previous albums, NVM and Lost Time featured several songs about menstruation).

With their latest release coming in a more politically charged climate than their previous albums, the band has showed no signs of shying away from their signature voice, with songs like “Hologram,” which dares to ask questions like “How did we come to be so jaded?” and offers solace to those exhausted by the current climate with “Just remember if you can, power is a hologram.”

While the band hasn’t abandoned its light and bright sound, its new album does offer listeners slightly mellower vibes than its predecessors, bringing a sea-soaked, surfer atmosphere to its sharp power chords.

Stream This Place Is a Mess by Tacocat on Spotify:

On Sunday, the band — entering to the Game of Thrones theme song — offered the crowd a mix of its powerful punk classics and dreamier new releases. Starting with Bridge to Hawaii off NVM — which, you guessed it, makes an argument for why we should build a bridge to Hawaii — the band kicked off the night with Emily’s mighty vocals, wild dancing, and vibrant tambourine.

The set then moved into another classic, “The Internet,” drenching the stage in blood-red lighting and spinning out sharp, glittering guitar riffs in a playful and unapologetic performance. As the band moved into “Hologram,” off the new album, the atmosphere became slightly dreamier before they started in on the crowd-pleasing, hand-clapping “Dana Catherine Scully”, dedicated by Emily to anyone who is a fan of “the X-Files, or bobbed haircuts, or lady’s business suits from the ‘90s.” Who isn’t?

Next, “New World” off This Mess Is a Place offered a more introspective energy, but was nonetheless upbeat and quirky. The band then moved through the slightly more rockabilly “The Joke of Life,” creating a vortex of overlapping vocals and power chords, before easing into “Talk,” starting out on a low-energy downbeat that builds to an explosive force of vocals and melody.

“The Problem,” was up next, a piece that rings of political commentary and satire set to the backdrop of heavy, jaunty bass, followed by the unmistakably glittery and floaty “Volcano.” The forceful, dance-inducing and smile-eliciting “I Love Seattle” had the crowd jumping before the band moved into “Grains of Salt,” a piece off of their new album that was distinctly relaxed, offering synthesized, almost ballad-like notes.

A heavy bassline carried the crowd into the tropical and punky, “Crystal Ball,” whose heady notes made for easy listening. The group closed out the show with two of its signature tunes: the upbeat “Crimson Wave” and the catchy, colorful “I Hate the Weekend.”

Here are some pictures of Tacocat performing at U Street Music Hall on May 19, 2019. All photos copyright and courtesy of Katherine Gaines.

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