Review and Photos: NO THANKS Benefit Show @ Black Cat 1.20.17


For those of you who spent time protesting in D.C. this weekend, you hopefully recognized the patchwork of people and causes marching side by side. Aggressive young feminists marched beside legions of moms. Black Lives Matter activists marched beside immigrant rights groups. Socialists marched beside LGBT advocates. And anarchists were sprinkled throughout.

Seated together at a dinner table, these groups would probably yell themselves hoarse with nuanced political disagreements. But this weekend they put aside their differences and united in opposition to the incoming presidency.  

This spirit of eclectic opposition was also the unifying force at Friday night’s NO THANKS: A Night of Anti-Fascist Sound Resistance at the Black Cat (which raised an impressive $6,000 for Casa Ruby and $6,000 for One DC.)

The diversity of artists would have been overwhelming if not for the united sense of community, resistance and support for D.C. Waxahatchee’s solo emotive folk is a far cry from Pure Disgust’s take-no-prisoners hardcore. Mellow Diamond’s avant-garde pop is an abrupt contrast to Ted Leo’s veteran punk rock. And I don’t think D.C.’s fantastic shoegaze punks, Flasher, would have ever shared a bill with David Longstreth of the Dirty Projectors. But in spite (or more likely, because) of the eclecticism, it was a joyful and invigorating night of music.

D.C.’s Priests served as the event’s organizing force and one of the highlights of the evening. They opened with the track “Right-Wing,” which was released in 2014 but never felt as gut-punching as it did on Friday night.

Priests’ activism doesn’t end when the house lights go up. Vocalist Katie Alice Greer’s penchant for challenging politics is something I’m thankful for. Specifically, her recent Pitchfork op-ed is an important wake-up call to marchers whose weekend of anti-Trump activism left them feeling comfortably woke. She writes:

“There’s no room for respectability politics and tone-policing in the fight against fascism. Think critically about whether a weekend of peaceful protests with lots of nice white people smiling at cops will destroy the violent racism of our culture. All kinds of women are left behind every day by the twin crushing machines of racist capitalism and toxic masculinity. We need to fight for all of us together, so we’ll have a lot of ground to cover.”

It’s that constructive criticism that makes Priests one of D.C.’s most important voices.

But to be honest, my proudest moment at Friday’s show was courtesy of Irreversible Ways Ensemble. Nationally-loved darlings, Ted Leo, Sadie Dupuis and Katie Crutchfield looked on as the ensemble of D.C.’s finest musicians mixed avant-garde jazz with chaotic orchestral sounds and razor sharp spoken word.

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