Night Beats is an outlaw R&B band from Texas with a vintage psychedelic tinge. The band is currently on tour supporting their recent release, Rajan. A quarter of the way through the tour, they found themselves in DC at Black Cat.
The recent show opened with a solid performance from The Moonwalks, a trio from Detroit, Michigan. Their spacey psych sound was a great match for the Night Beats.
After a short break on Sept. 16, Night Beats entered the Black Cat stage quietly and tuned up their instruments. Singer and guitarist Danny Lee Blackwell walked up to the stage, introduced the band and broke into the first single from Rajan, “Hot Ghee.”
Stream Rajan by Night Beats on Spotify:
There is a big difference between the studio album and the band’s live performances. The album is beautifully produced and has a vintage psychedelic sound, filled with reverb and unusual instruments. For example, Hot Ghee has a sitar-like intro.
When the band plays live, they are a trio and Danny uses a single guitar throughout the set. So a lot of the unusual sounds are approximated with effects.
This is what I love about live music. Night Beats’ show consists of the new album played in its entirety; so the songs have to be stripped down and become much more raw. This makes the live show a completely different experience than listening to the album. The piano and keyboards are gone. In their place are Danny’s wild guitar effects.
One of the effects that you’ll find both on the album and in the live show is the reverb on Danny’s vocals. It gives the album a wonderful retro sound. When it was employed in the show at Black Cat, Danny’s mic was lost in the mix much of the time. I don’t know if it was a technical issue, an aesthetic factor, or something else but it was sometimes difficult to hear the vocals. The only other issue was the stage lighting. It was dark and moody. That definitely got the feeling of the music across, however it made it basically impossible to take photos.
As the show progressed, Danny didn’t say much between songs. But when he was playing, he would prowl around the stage like an animal, squeezing incredible runs from his guitar. For all of Danny’s incredible guitar playing, the rhythm section was solid and steady. Bass duties are handled by Kyrone Oak while Chris Scott plays the drums. These guys are solid, groovy, and give Danny the perfect foil for his psychedelic, outlaw rhythm and blues.
Highlights were “Hot Ghee,” “Osaka,” “Cautionary Tale,” and “Thank You.” Each of these songs had to be rearranged so they could be played live. Whether it’s a sitar, harmonica, keys, or piano, there was something that had to be reconfigured so that it could be played by a three-piece band.
One of the unusual aspects of the Night Beats set is that they not only play their new album in its entirety but they actually play it in album order!
There really wasn’t a whole lot of chatter in between songs. But when Danny did come to the mic to speak, he was extremely thankful to the crowd for coming out and to The Moonwalks for their great set. After the band wrapped up their set, they moved to the back of the stage and huddled up. When they broke the huddle and came out for an encore, Danny informed everyone that they were going to try out a new song. But they started with “Right/Wrong” from the album Who Sold My Generation. Next up was a new track, “That’s All You Got,” followed by “Puppet On A String” from their first album
Being a photographer, it was tough knowing that it was too dark to get quality shots. But I loved the energy of the show and the stripped down, raw takes on the album. I’ve wanted to see Night Beats for a while, and after this show, I’m anxious to see them again…hopefully with some brighter lights.
- Hot Ghee
- Motion Picture
- Anxious Mind
- Thank You
- Dusty Jungle
- Cautionary Tale
- 9 To 5
- Morocco Blues
- That’s All You Got
- Puppet On A String