On Monday night, the at-capacity crowd at Dew Drop Inn witnessed many musical contrasts and emotional spectrums.
The show, Weyes Blood with D.C.’s Cigarette and Br’er, was originally scheduled to take place at the DIY venue Haushouse. Instead, it was moved to the Brookland neighborhood bar after overwhelming interest following the release of Weyes Blood’s gorgeous new album, Front Row Seat to Earth.
The audience of music scene regulars packed in early with those who ventured to Northeast D.C. for their first DIY show; both demographics stood wall-to-wall, on chairs and benches to catch some of Weyes Blood’s magic.
The crowd who waited Weyes Blood’s luscious and psychedelic-influenced folk was probably unprepared for the first act, Br’er, whose dense electronic noise punk shook the audience into attention. Vocalist Ben Schurr ended the set by storming into the audience yelling “I’ll never be white enough for you” in response to the steady anti-Semitism of the election season. It was challenging and aggressive, but appropriately cathartic.
In contrast, Cigarette lulled the crowd into a dream-like state with their vocal and guitar-forward slocore. Their set was consistent and effectively hypnotic despite having to fight off the polluting bar chatter.
Weyes Blood proved to be the even keel between Br’er’s aggressive messaging and Cigarette’s escapism. Her nostalgia-driven folk swelled beyond the confines of her recorded material. At the same time, her perceptive lyricism and beautiful voice remained front and center, especially for tracks “Generation Why” and “Do You Need My Love.”
Thankfully, her high-minded folk was not without some self-awareness and humor. “What’s the difference between a virgin and a washing machine?” she asked toward the end of the set. “A washing machine doesn’t follow you around for two weeks crying after you dump a load in it.” And without missing a beat, she launched into the baroque ballad, “Seven Words.” This is exactly the type of contrast that makes for a memorable show and a loveable artist.
As every good show should be, this one was just as thoughtful and captivating as it was unexpected. The emotional power of folk mixed with anxiety, human connection and a little bit of rage. The atmosphere of this dive bar in the nation’s capital on the eve of the election did indeed feel like a front row seat to earth, or at least a front row seat to America.