Live Review: The Hundred in the Hands at Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel, Washington DC – 19th June 2012

By on Monday, 25th June 2012 at 2:00 pm

I missed the last time The Hundred in the Hands headlined in Washington DC. They played DC9’s Liberation Dance Party night that Phenomenal Handclap Band, VV Brown and Delphic played on separate occasions, and yes, I’m kicking myself I didn’t go. But I didn’t know who they were at the time. I partially made up for this by heading up to Philly and Boston in autumn 2010 to catch them open for the Temper Trap. But nothing beats seeing a band whose debut album you ranked in the top 5 of albums of 2010 in your hometown.

The first act on was New York City ambient artist Vorhees. Better known to her mum as Dana Wachs, she’s a sound designer and audio engineer (for famous names like MGMT and Lykke Li, no less) who also records music under this Vorhees moniker. She would record guitar parts live, then run these recorded bits through various analogue machinery she had with her up onstageand sing along to the new creation. I didn’t think I’d like this kind of music but surprisingly, I did: she produced soundscapes like nothing I’d ever heard before.

From a pretty minimalist solo act, we couldn’t have gone to a more different band than local to DC group Dance for the Dying. Lead singer M.C. Wolfe, dressed like a hippie in a cute golden-toned sundress and bright magenta feather earrings, initially screamed out Grouplove to me. Cheryl and I were wondering how she managed not to fall out of her dress, as she precariously balanced a white keytar on her shoulder. Beyond Wolfe herself, drummer and band founder Chris Link, guitarist Joshua Hunter, and bass player Brad Cantor were so fun to watch, you could tell they were totally into it. I’m not wild about their ‘synth-driven dance pop’ label but I guess this is the closest you can get. A little ‘80s, a little ‘90s, a little pop, a little soul, a sexy bass line…it’s all here.

Eleanore Everdell and Jason Friedman of the Hundred in the Hands just released their second album ‘Red Light’, which I reviewed a short while ago here on TGTF. I find while ‘Red Light’ is very different from ‘The Hundred in the Hands’, it’s a direction that should help them gain a wider fanbase. On the live side of things, the duo have enlisted friend and former bandmate of Friedman’s Joe Dilworth, which overall is a great addition, as anyone who has seen the Hundred in the Hands in the past is more familiar with them playing with a programmed drum machine. I myself welcome the addition of a live drummer, because it makes the overall Hundred in the Hands experience that much more powerful.

To be honest, I felt super embarrassed by my town that there were less than 100 people present for their return to our city. (Seriously, Washington…what the heck? Is everyone at the beach? ::rolls eyes::) But I give credit to everyone who was there, as it felt like they were all longtime fans who loved ‘The Hundred in the Hands’ and were eager to see the band play their newest songs. I wouldn’t have blamed the band for not playing an encore with such a paltry turnout, but our dedication was rewarded by “a slow one” that finished out the night mellow and my heart singing. It’s been so long since I’ve really gotten to dance at a show, so this one hit the spot.

‘Keep It Low’, the sultry number the band released in the spring as the first taster to ‘Red Light’, didn’t disappoint and garnered just as great of a response as debut album hits ‘Pigeons’ and ‘Commotion’. The lovely thing about Hundred in the Hands is for me, they put the “dance band” label on its head, and “electronic dance” even more so, because some people get a cold feeling from hearing that genre being mentioned. You don’t expect a synth-playing woman who sings emotionally with a riff-happy, free-wheeling cause mental dance scenes, but that’s what I witnessed every time I looked behind me during the band’s set. Add on their new drummer with mad guns, this is a band to be reckoned with.

After the show I chatted with Eleanore and Joe about their touring schedule, and they’ve been everywhere in the last 2 months and are headed back over to Europe again, including a string of German and Austrian music festivals in July and August. While I have come to understand that Europe as a whole is a better appreciator for electronic dance than America is (and believe me, as an American, it drives me up the wall), it still boggles my mind why they aren’t more popular here. I say give them a chance if you get the opportunity to see them live. You won’t be disappointed.

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