Live Review: The Postelles and Fort Lean at U Street Music Hall, Washington DC – 23th March 2012

By on Thursday, 29th March 2012 at 2:00 pm

You might be able to chalk it up to the unseasonably mild weather we’ve been having in this so-called Washington ‘winter’. Or the fact that the show was on a Friday night. Make no mistake, the Postelles descended on Washington DC like gods from heaven and their show just further emphasised their loyal fanbase in the Nation’s Capital. I can scarcely believe that I first saw them as relative newbies to the scene in March 2010, opening for the where-are-they-now Portland band Hockey, and how far they’ve come in just 2 years. Touring with the Futureheads in the UK and then with the Wombats more recently on American soil last autumn, they’ve proved their worth as an engaging support act. But it’s headline gigs like this one at the U Street Music Hall – co-built by famed local DJ Will Eastman to have a monster sound system worthy of the best song spinners and with a cork-reinforced floor to lessen punters’ foot pain after hours and hours of dancing – where the New York band prove their mettle. I imagined I was in for quite a night when I arrived 30 minutes before showtime to the entire front of stage teeming with underage girls dressed in their clubbing best.

The opener was Fort Lean, who hail from that NYC borough that seems to be the place Where All Indie Bands Are Made These Days, Brooklyn. I don’t know if it was a purposeful gimmick, but their lead singer has whacked out, platinum blonde hair going all directions…and he’s male. I mean, he’s the kind of guy who would stop traffic on what’s on his head alone, described by Billboard as “a reverse mullet”. Make of that what you will. with the these days’ typical indie band line-up of guitars, bass, keyboards and drums, you’d be hard-pressed to distinguish them from most other bands.

They’ve released a 7”, rather appropriately titled ‘Sun Sick’, that was produced by Ayad Al Adhamy of Passion Pit (you remember them); listen to it below. Slower songs like ‘Dreams (Never Come True)’ seemed to go over with the underage, rabid Postelles fans who had shown up early to stake their spots down the front, but they shine brightest– when you’re not staring at the singer’s hair – on their upbeat, sunny numbers like ‘Beach Holiday’. Definitely one you’ll want to check out for this summer. They’re also guys who don’t take themselves too seriously. Take, for example, this comical exchange with a heckler:

Punter: Hey shirtless…’Freebird’!
Singer: I’m gonna fuck you up! ::laughter in club ensues::

I’ve gotten to the point where I’m not really sure what else can be said about the Postelles. I mean, they just keep getting bigger and bigger. I’ve seen them as a support band, I’ve seen them play tiny places like DC9 and Red Palace (twice), and now they’ve hit the big time with scoring a gig at the way cool U Street Music Hall. (As alluded to in this SXSW post, over the last couple months in a partnership with the folks that own 9:30 Club, U Street has been hosting indie bands like Fanfarlo, so the club is going beyond its original intention of hosting just dance acts and DJs. Which is great for us locals, because that opens up another potential venue to see indie bands.)

The band started off their set with ‘Sound the Alarms’, which I laughed a little at; when I was in Austin for SXSW, I heard this song come on in the background of a weight loss company tv advert in which people are ripping off their clothes in the middle of a stadium. There was no wardrobe malfunctions to be had at U Street, but you could just feel the amazing vibe, as people crammed in to see these guys from New York City tear it up.

The show was epitomised by the four-song encore: ‘Boy’s Best Friend’ always goes down a treat; new song ‘Sweet Water; and crazy versions of ‘Stella’ and ‘White Night’, in which Danny Balk grabbed girls’ hands and pulled them up onstage to dance along. You would have thought this was the most amazing thing to ever happen in their lives, judging from the wideness of their grins. It reminded me of the mayhem when I saw Friendly Fires in Brooklyn 3 years ago, except more orderly. But only slightly. Are stage invasions the way forward for Postelles shows? Quite possibly. Keep on trucking, guys. You’ve only just begun.

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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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