Friday, June 11, 2010
Local Bands Get Dirty at Harpers Ferry
I had seen The Dirty Dishes before at Church and also in a more intimate setting with an acoustic set at The Loft. This time around I got a chance to witness them headline a gig alongside of some great local music at Harper's Ferry on June 8, 2010. It was a Tuesday and a modest crowd of people were looking to indulge in some hometown noise. The Dirty Dishes along with The Self Assembly and Grass is Green made sure to award those who ignored their work duties for the next day and the Celtics game that was currently taking place to come out and rock.
Grass is Green were the first band I caught and they opened up with an angular style that reminded me of the more adventurous bands from the late 90s alternative scene such as Burning Airlines. Their heavier, more technical material like the curiously titled "Um Tsk" reminded me of Drive Like Jehu. The band displayed excellent musicianship while toying around with different rhythms yet maintained cohesiveness in each song. Their stage presence was excellent and the odd song titles, dynamic shifts, and overall creativity made sure that you played close attention to each note hurdled towards your ears. Grass is Green is an excellent young band with a unique sound and they are only going to get better the more they play the circuit.
The Self Assembly was a curious band to put between Grass is Green and The Dirty Dishes as they are a more laid-back sounding indie rock band. I felt like their set would have been better served before Grass is Green. However, I found myself enjoying their performance quite a bit and discovered a few songs that stuck out significantly. "Oregon" with its strained cried of "It's calling me home" ended with a decent jam reminiscent of Built to Spill. "Plant the Seeds" was another standout that reminded me of the more expansive songs by The Thermals especially in the vocals. Overall, even though I wasn't expecting that style of music at the time, I still found myself eyes-fixed to the stage several times.
The Dirty Dishes, who were recently featured in the Weekly Dig, presented themselves as a much more mature band than I had previously witnessed. There was a small initial stumble at the beginning of the set which they did a great job recovering from and then it just kept getting better and better from there. As they played through their set, the performance got tighter and the songs got louder. Songs like "In the Clouds" had an airiness and spacey infectiousness that showed the potential the band possesses for greater things. The crowd was gradually getting sucked into the performance as they played on. During "Stolen Apples", an easy favorite of mine, people were even dancing violently at the front of the stage. "Thin Air" had a powerful build that erupted in sonic bliss, ending the night on a burst of energy. It is always a pleasure to see three great local bands and that's exactly what I got on that night. Listen to the excellent debut EP In the Clouds from The Dirty Dishes below.