Live Review: Phenomenal Handclap Band at DC9, Washington DC – 21 August 2009

By on Sunday, 23rd August 2009 at 11:19 am

DSC01004-tgtfWashington venues have suffered in the last 2 decades – a bunch of clubs have closed or changed for the worse, and there really aren’t that many great, small places bands can play. I can however vouch for the great DC9, which sports a small but cozy gigging space on its second floor. This is the venue that played host to the Phenomenal Handclap Band, Daniel Collas and Sean Marquand‘s musical vision put in a live setting.

Besides South by Southwest in Austin and lots of shows in their hometown of New York City, the band haven’t played much stateside; they’ve played music festivals in Europe and Australia this summer, but so far us Americans haven’t been properly exposed to them…yet. But I feel like they’re destined for something big, because dance feels like it’s coming back big-time, with bands like Bloc Party and Friendly Fires leading the charge. (Incidentally, the PHB are opening for Friendly Fires in the next couple of days out in California, which is a great live combination judging by the fab listening experience I had at le poisson rouge less than a fortnight ago.)

The PHB make sultry, sexy dance music, which makes a lot of sense given that Collas and Marquand used to spin dance records regularly at some of the hottest clubs in NYC. Collas’s fondness for ’60s and ’70s psychedelia and Marquand’s love of Brazilian beat music can be heard in their songs, conjuring up a dance party like no other. Given the current credit crisis, I think everyone everywhere could do with some joy in their life. And the PHB sound epitomizes the word ‘joyous’, with their brand of bouncy, happy, life-affirming music.

DSC01021-tgtfIf I had to choose, ‘You’ll Disappear’, ‘The Martyr’, and ‘Testimony’ were standouts, but frankly, I loved their entire set. I wasn’t around for the ’70s, but I feel like we’re in a special time right now that was similar to way back then – when bands like the PHB can come out and do what they do best – rock out and get people back on the dance floor.

Their debut album is available now through Friendly Fire Recordings. Zane Lowe of Radio1 and Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie of Radio2 have already gotten on the PHB bus of bliss – why haven’t you?

Here’s a video from their YouTube account so can get a feel for what they’re like live.


Stay tuned for my interview with Daniel Collas and Sean Marquand coming soon!

Set list:
You’ll Disappear
The Journal to Serra da Estrela
All of the Above
The Martyr
15 to 20
I Been Born Again


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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

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