Review: Lower Dens and Cigarette @ Rock and Roll Hotel 8.22.16


You know when you’re stressed out from the same thing clawing at your mental state and well being for too long? That’s how I felt before walking into Rock & Roll Hotel for their Tuesday night 10 year anniversary show.

As I stood there listening to D.C.’s Cigarette, I felt myself ease. As the soft music washed over me, my problems washed away. My shaky, over-stimulated mind steadied as the band’s sound comforted it in a warm blanket. It was cleansing. The angelic voices of the bassist and two guitarists were shockingly beautiful each time they took their turn individually or harmonized together. Each person’s music was simplistic in nature, but grouped together Cigarette created music that was intensely powerful and beautiful.

The room was mostly filled when Baltimore’s indie-pop band Lower Dens took the stage. The entire set felt sci-fi-esque and a little ungrounded from reality. While guitarist and vocalist Jana Hunter mumbled when she spoke between songs, her vocals were clear and powerful throughout. Her movements were minimal onstage, but her presence enveloped the room.

Nate Nelson accompanied Hunter on drums, along with an array of prerecorded synths and instruments that kept a fast tempo. The eclectic sounds wove together seamlessly and created a performance that was slightly chaotic but entirely entertaining. Hunter’s facial expressions and movements made it appear as though she was in pain by what she was singing, which very well could be true. Lower Dens was entirely raw with emotion and unrestrained in their candor. At times it felt uncomfortable, but I couldn’t peel my eyes away.

By the end of the show, the back half of the room had cleared out. But Lower Dens’ cult following was devoted. When Hunter announced she would be singing her last song, someone from the crowd shouted for five more.