Live Review: Maximo Park with Stagnant Pools and the Neighbourhood at U Street Music Hall, Washington DC – 15th September 2012

By on Wednesday, 26th September 2012 at 2:00 pm

I found myself in one of Washington, DC’s more recent entries in the live music venue on a Saturday night, U Street Music Hall. Blessed with a superior sound system (they hold a lot of DJ shows here) and the intimate atmosphere a basement venue engenders, it’s quickly becoming a favourite place of mine to see gigs. The night opened with a band called Stagnant Pools, a rather unfortunate name. Just two guys, brothers, playing your standard three strummed chords and a drum. I was sorely unimpressed. The guitar and vocals were really quite muddy and since I know the sound system can’t be beat, I can only think they were going for the noise rock thing. I have always thought that three in a band was a hard sell, but two? Sorry, but I think these guys have a way to go.

The next band held more promise. The girl beside me had driven from the next state over just to see them. The lead singer of the Neighbourhood (yes, an America band who spells it properly), Jessie James Rutherford, is heavy on rhythm rather than melody, but with a combination of smooth R&B and clear hip-hop influences, he’s a voice to listen to. Barely a year together and with just an EP to their name, they’ve got a sound that will likely find traction. Their EP ‘I’m Sorry…’ is rather lo-fi and even slightly silky, but the live show is anything but. Full of energy, their songs translate well into the live setting. Closing the set with ‘Sweater Weather’, a track that has received moderate airplay both in their native California and Radio 1, punters midway in the crowd were clearly waiting for this tune as a group of them exploded into song at the chorus. Look for them in November when they hit London, Manchester, and Glasgow.

Which brings us to Maximo Park. The band haven’t been here in a while, 5 years in fact. Much to our editor’s lament, she missed them yet again, and the duty fell to me to enjoy their high energy, new wavish, jumpy, frenetic sounds. Wearing the familiar chapeau and fitted jacket, Paul Smith literally jumped out on to the stage as ‘Graffiti’ rang out behind him. He looked so very English to these American eyes with his hat misshapen into a nearly bowler shape. Smith was all posing and skinny and hip shaking, and while the jacket and tie slowly dribbled away as the set progressed, that hat stayed on all night! Ever the well seasoned frontman, he had the crowd wowed and undulating throughout the venue in minutes. So frenzied were some that my rather novice gig going companion was christened with her very own beer shower quite early on.

But no matter how damp those around me were, not much could dampen the enthusiasm for songs like ‘Going Missing’ and ‘Books From Boxes’, the latter of which received the biggest sing along of the night. Despite being stood right there in front of them, I still had Kasabian’s ‘Switchblade Smiles’ coursing through my head when ‘Limassol’ started. Of course ‘Limassol’ was first, so I guess I have to blame Kasabian for stealing this ultra-cool riff. The northerners kept the party going by providing song after song rather than inane chatter, aside from name-checking DC’s own Fugazi. A full 22-song set chronicled their entire catalog. I am always happy when a band can do that rather than playing, and pushing, mostly the new album. With such a good reception, I hope that we don’t have to go another half a decade before they grace our city again. And next time they better pick a date when our editor can go!

After the cut: Maximo Park’s set list.

Maximo Park Set List:
The National Health
Girls Who Play Guitar
Hips and Lips
Questing Not Coasting
The Coast is Always Changing
Write This Down
Going Missing
Reluctant Love
Books From Boxes
The Undercurrents
The Kids Are Sick Again
Take Me Home
Now I’m All Over the Shop
This is What Becomes of the Brokenhearted
Parisian Skies
I Want You to Stay
Our Velocity
By the Monument
Waves of Fear
Apply Some Pressure

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One Response

2:55 am
4th December 2012

Damn sargeant d soiemmtes you seem like youd be one of the coolest dudes ever but then you write shit like this. Lets talk about fucking cephalotripsy or fucking the acacia strain not girly ass attack attack. It took me so long to actually check these faggets out. Im not gonna lie i wasnt expecting the heavy parts at all, it doesnt make them any better though. These girly men need to stop making music or at least drop the heavy tough guy parts cause they arent fooling anybody.

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

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