Review+Photos: Potty Mouth, Partybaby, Tennis System @ DC9 3.5.17
Photos by Anna Moneymaker
The night fell just short of a party, uninspired and distorted guitar melodies slipping into usually vibrant tracks as the draining tour got the best of Potty Mouth. Abby Weems herself told the crowd that it was not the best day. The fans, familiar with the group and their songs, were supportive and soon Weems called up new track “Do It Again” as a way to cheer herself up.
“It’s really fun to play,” Weems said, going into a series of power chords after drummer Victoria Mandanas’ count off.
The night had started off with higher spirits when Tennis System powered through heavier, garage rock tracks than their usual shoegaze studio versions. The three-piece, only giving themselves a break during half-time tempo instrumental bridges, left no pause in between tracks. Friends and family of the band members, especially those obviously there to see frontman and Washingtonian Matty Taylor, only got their applause in at the end, when the intense strumming and vibrato of Taylor’s guitar stopped.
After getting their drink situation sorted out in the first few minutes of the second set, Partybaby jumped into their pop punk and corny-humored songs, sneaking some edge in and around the choruses. The band went into a cover of “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” and frontman Jamie Schefman told the crowd he would play an unreleased track called “Problems.” In between the pertinent, frustrated lyrics, the lead vocalist stopped to address a fan in the front row.
“How the fuck do you know the words?” Schefman asked before going into the chorus.
The crowd laughed at the dedication of the Partybaby fan. A thoughtful track, “Overload,” closed the set, a guitar build after the first verse nodding at gothic rock bands that came before.
Potty Mouth took the stage, balancing pop punk with garage sounds, and offering a nice blend for fans of both. Their newest single, “Smash Hit,” was up first. The lights went blue, with Weems’ heavy strumming and the start of Mandana’s cymbal power hits. Newly added touring guitarist, Gracie Jackson, played sliding chords as she chewed gum and rolled her eyes in a skillful and nonchalant manner.
After another change of lighting, Weems asked, “Can we go back to the blue lights?”
The wash of the cool-toned lights remained until the end of the night. Weems showed off her full vocals in “Creeper Weed,” with Ally Einbinder’s blaring bass creating a foot-tapping, lo-fi atmosphere. Weems started the doubtful and questioning song “Long Haul” before the full instrumentals came in. Mandana’s loud and clear vocals were heard through the harder chorus, Jackson complementing it all with her low-key forceful riffs.
Potty Mouth’s live show was more brash compared to their studio recordings. The less pop-y vocals and grunge, distorted instrumentals fit well, but became a blur after a bit, each track bleeding into the other. There were small things that stood out, but overall, it was a haze of fuzztone until the last few songs.
That fog was cleared when Weems’ rigid vocals against the catchy electric guitar and staccato drum fills made “Do It Again” exhilarating. Einbinder’s two alternating bass chords paired well with the kit’s cymbal fills as the band performed the ‘90s inspired “Cherry Picking.” Potty Mouth broke out of their pit of flatness with another new song, “22,” which was so fast and energetic that even Jackson swayed into the guitar part. The night, like any end to a party, finished with “The Spins.” The half-time tempo chorus was flavorful and carefully drew Potty Mouth’s set to a close.