Music Park: Deep Sea Diver @ DC9 — 2/29/16

Deep Sea DiverDeep Sea Diver (Photo Courtesy of Force Field PR)

There was a moment in Deep Sea Diver’s set at DC9 on February 29th, where lead singer Jessica Dobson suddenly ignited and the energy level ratcheted up to 11.

That moment came halfway through the set, in the long intro to “Wide Awake”, a song that left the crowd no doubt they were witnessing a revelationary performance. Just that short burst of rhythm and rock alone was enough to make the show.

Then from boisterous anthem to subdued, yet equally sublime, they transitioned to “Great Light”, a ballad of hopeful love, brought to life through Jessica’s lilting voice, that might break your heart if it wasn’t merely a song.

As Jessica set down her guitar (one of two used during the show) with broken strings poking in every direction, Jessica joked that this is, “literally the first song I play without an instrument in my hands.” And she did need both hands to hold the mic steady enough to take the force of the lyrics.

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Music Park: Julia Holter @ Rock and Roll Hotel — 2/25/16

Julia Holter 11/11Julia Holter performing live at Village Underground on 11/11/2013. (Photo by Zoe Klinck)

With a strong fiddle player at her side, Julia Holter charmed the Rock and Roll Hotel crowd with a mix of experimental pop and folk-like songs.

At one point she whispered to the crowd, “Everything happens here…in DC…that’s important.” Whether this is true or not is debatable, but it did spark the crowd to start a lively round of shouts throughout the concert. The most entertaining being when one guy (and I assume the winner of every Louis C.K. look-alike contest) shouted, “We love you!” And he did. And they did.

Julia played a number of new songs off her latest album, Have You In My Wilderness, which received a great deal of buzz in the press in 2015.

One such new song was, “Feel You”, which she described as the ‘dorkiest song’ on the new record. Yet, I thought it was the strongest effort from the 13-song set she performed.

For the style and the sound, often individual songs segued into a cacophony of different vocal sounds and arrangements and pantomimed gestures that flowed around the lyrics, changing the dynamic and the mood from moment to moment. Hence, why some have dubbed her music experimental.

I found this eclectic mixing most interesting in the form of the “Sea Calls Me Home” (which was also the last song of the encore), where the song transitions from an airy pop song to a drumbeat chant of the chorus.

The lyrics of the funky “Vasquez” and “Silhouette” syncopated and slithered, while the three member band (drums, guitar and fiddle) kept time and the audience swayed. The Rock and Roll Hotel was mostly full, and it appeared a good number were quite familiar with Julia’s catalog and were having a fine time indeed.

Give the album, Have You In My Wilderness, a listen here.

Julia’s tour continues in Canada and the Midwest through March, then she picks up again in May at the Gorge Amphitheatre in Washington state (it’s a beautiful setting for music, you should check it out) for the Sasquatch Music Festival, before heading to a couple European cities!