M Central Inauguration Weekend


What happens when an arts collective, a public-policy non-profit, and a start-up devoted to economic progress collaborate? It rarely happens, but given last weekend’s full slate of events at M Central, perhaps it should happen more often.

No Kings Collective, the New America Foundation, and the Millennial Train project put together the events, which included an art exhibition, a public-policy forum, and two nights of live music, all focused on the “millennial” generation and their efforts to influence the future.

“The vision was to create a space for young people during the inauguration,” explained Jessica Straus, Communications Director of the Millennial Trains Project. “We wanted to provide a place for them to go where it wouldn’t be too expensive, and they didn’t have to worry about getting on some exclusive guest list; a place where they could have fun for the weekend and connect with each other. That’s why we called the space M Central – as in, ‘”Millennial Central.’”

Sunday’s show certainly could be described as fun – though raucous is a better word when bands like Shark Week and Low Cut Connie are on the bill.

Doors opened an hour later than advertised, and after an hour of milling about, the crowd enthusiastically welcomed Shark Week’s set of driving, hard-edged garage rock.  Frontman Ryan Hunter Mitchell was refreshingly unpredictable onstage, at one point running off mid-song to find another guitar while is band played on in bemusement.

The Dig played several pleasant, grooving, pop-inflected tunes that served as a nice counterpoint to the more visceral bands sharing the stage.

Low-Cut Connie, the jivin’ retro-revivalists, channeled the pounding, hormonally charged rock ‘n’ roll style of Jerry Lee Lewis and other early rockers. Their set was a kitschy, sleazy affair (a blow-up doll made an appearance at one point), but it had the whole audience jumpin’, jivin’, and wailin’. Few bands are this entertaining on stage.

U.S. Royalty headlined, and they delivered a performance so powerful that they blew a main fuse about halfway through their set. The set list was a treat for fans, chock full of new music from the band’s upcoming album. Songs like “Only Happy In the Country (Until I Miss the City)” and “South Paradiso” mixed right in with fan-favorites like “Equestrian” and “Monte Carlo.” Their primal rendition of “The Desert Won’t Save You,” marked by singer John Thornley’s guttural screams, closed the night on a cathartic note.

Listen Local First curated the line-up, and did a great job of bringing together this diverse, yet solid group of bands.

Photos by Vanessa Ndege and John-Paul Zajackowski