It’s funny how the weather can accurately foreshadow future events. A few hours before The Districts played 9:30 Club, a thunderstorm passed through the city, turning the afternoon sunlight into darkness. When the torrential rain finally slowed its pace and lightning bolts gained distance, an electrifying energy lingered in the air.
As a Philadelphia native, I’ve seen The Districts a handful of times while at home. This time, I was excited to see how they would interact with the D.C. crowd. I wondered if there’d be that same magical element felt at those hometown shows: a mixture of chills and excitement, similar to what one feels upon seeing lightning quickly spread and then disappear across the skyline.
The Districts walked on stage very nonchalantly, picked up their instruments and jumped right into the show. They made sure to mix older favorites, like “Long Distance” and “4th and Roebling,” in a set list which focused primarily on Popular Manipulations, their latest album. The newer songs which stood out the most to me were “Violet,” “Ordinary Day,” “Salt” and “If Before I Wake.” While the vocals on “Violet” were striking, I felt entranced by drummer Braden Lawrence’s strokes.
Compared to their first two albums, Popular Manipulations brings a different, grungier angle to garage rock, including sharper, almost accented vocals, to The Districts’ sound. But by fluidly ending one song and starting the next, it wasn’t made as noticeable as if you were to listen to all three albums in a row.
Guitarists Rob Grote and Pat Cassidy left no space untouched as they let the music control their bodies, stumbling back and forth, around in circles and up and down off the drumset platform. Bassist Connor Jacobus got a quick moment himself, when the right-hand side balcony called attention to his playing and he smiled back up at them. On-stage chemistry is definitely one aspect of live music that The Districts always do right.
I always leave feeling ready to live a little bit harder when I see The Districts live. Friday was no exception.