Live Review: The Very Best with Javelin at DC9, Washington DC – 02 November 2009

By on Thursday, 5th November 2009 at 2:00 pm

j-verybest6To my friends, I’m starting to sound like a broken record. When I said I was going to DC9 Monday night to see the Very Best, they all asked, “where did you hear about them?” And as usual the answer was, “BBC Radio, where else?” In the case of the Very Best, their ‘Warm Heart of Africa’ was added to the 6music playlist, making sure that I’d hear it enough times to have it imprinted on my brain. Mind you, I wasn’t dragged to this conclusion. I was happily led away to sunnier equatorial climes.

‘Warm Heart of Africa’ (specifically the song, not the album of the same name) features guest vocals from Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend alongside the Very Best’s singer Esau Mwamwaya, and you can’t make a song any brighter. As a Vampire Weekend fan, I wondered if Koenig would be coming along on this tour (he did, after all, cowrite the song). (Tour dates listed on VW’s MySpace confirmed this was impossible.) So how exactly would the song be recreated live? With the magic of samples and DJaying equipment plus the sweet voice of Mwamwaya…

javelin5forTGTFBut before I get carried away, let me tell you about the opening act, Javelin. The duo is comprised of two cousins from Providence, Rhode Island, that have been working on music together since their families spent their summers together by the New England seaside. If you only knew that about them, you would probably guess incorrectly what they sound like. They make enjoyable, danceable, electro noise pop/hip hop. The singer alternately pogo-ed up and down and would work his wide array of synths, while the “drummer” would beat his drum pad or grab maracas or a cowbell from under the table to add to the noise. Songs like ‘Twyce’; ‘Vibrationz’, and the set ender (and incidentally the first song they ever recorded) ‘Oh Centra’, an ode to a housecat, were just plain fun. Cool stuff.

So then it was time for London trio the Very Best. Well, I thought they were a trio. Somwhere on the way over to America they lost Etienne (DJ) Tron (I guess he stayed home) and then there were two – DJ/compere Johan Carlberg and singer Mwamwaya. Carlberg kicked things into high gear with his electronic gizmos as Mwamwaya grabbed his microphone and then brought everyone’s attention to two somewhat scantily clad dancers that had also been brought along with them from England.

Songs like ‘Wena’ (from the band’s 2008 free, downloadable mixtape that first put them on everyone’s radar late last year) and ‘Julia’ and ‘Warm Heart of Africa’ from their first official album-length offering turned the crowd at DC9 into one giant, lively mass that was moving and grooving to the engaging music. DC9 is rapidly becoming one of my favourite venues in town because of its size (about 200 capacity) and intimacy: Mwamwaya and their dancers were at times just inches away from me. The only disappointment: the only had 8 songs prepared, so that’s all we got. I hope they could tell from the raucous reception the Washington audience gave them that when they’ve got more songs put together for live performance, they are most certainly welcome back in our town.

After the jump: more photos.


Javelin photos:





The Very Best photos:





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[…] month, touring with Yeasayer. I caught the duo and their engaging live show here in Washington at DC9 and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel, and you can catch them in a venue near […]

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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.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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