Live Review: Gold Fields and A Silent Film with American Authors at U Street Music Hall, Washington DC – 4th February 2013

By on Friday, 8th February 2013 at 2:00 pm

Heading down the stairs at U Street Music Hall in Washington, DC is always a joy for me. No matter the band or the time, heading into the basement club feels special and secret. A newbie to the club told me she had to ask a local merchant where the door was. Turns out she had passed it twice!

American Authors Washington

Brooklyn-based American Authors started off the night. And it turns out they really are just that – writers of music from across America. Hailing from a wide variety of states flung across the nation, they produce songs that are catchy, boisterous and just plain fun. Affable fellows, mates Zachary Barnett, James Shelley, Matt Sanchez and Dave Rublin were clearly on a personal high since just 3 nights earlier they were signed to Mercury Records.

Peppering the set with songs penned just weeks ago, the band was clearly testing the waters for what to put on their debut album. Their song ‘Believer’ is currently in rotation on Sirius Radio’s Alt Nation (a weak approximation of BBC’s Radio6) and was clearly recognized by the gathered group. These guys are poised to make their splash, look for their record soon.

A Silent Film Washington

A Silent Film then roared onto the stage to greet the group of loyal followers at the front. Starting with the drum intense ‘Reaching the Potential’, this Oxford band has found a welcoming home on American soil, evident by the comfort all the members show on stage. Flanked by bassist Ali Hussain and guitarist Karl Bareham, frontman Robert Stevenson lured the crowd in by regularly coming to the front of the relatively tiny stage and beckoning with his entire body. Quipping that they had learned not to talk politics to Americans (especially in DC!) the band launched into their shortened set (nature of a co-headlining tour) with vigour.

Their two older songs were found mid-set and are among my favourites, ‘Driven By Their Beating Hearts’ and ‘You Will Leave a Mark’. As a testament to their connection with the crowd, Stevenson started one song off, unaccompanied, with a simple “oooo, oooo, ooo” and was greeted with a resounding “oh oh oh oh oh”. Pleased with the response, he stepped off to the keyboard and launched into ‘Harbour Lights’ using the assembled singers to carry that call and response throughout. They left the stage after a triumphant ‘Danny, Dakota & the Wishing Well’.

Gold Fields Washington

As happens when a gig is a co-headliner, the crowds for each band are often different. The entire front two rows changed hands at the conclusion of A Silent Film’s set. It was replaced with a slightly older, more sedate set of punters content to vigorously head nod. A five piece from Ballarat, Australia, Gold Fields’ strong suit is their rhythm section with Ryan D’Sylva playing the backbone and Rob Clifton on the synth and a full complement of drums, blocks, and bells. It evoked a bit of tribal baseness and mixed it up a bit from the standard indie fare.

A bit more shoegaze than I like, the band stirred up quite a bit of free flowing dancing at the back where I could smell a distinct eau de weed. But God help me, if I wasn’t struck by a decided Temper Trap-ness. I hate to compare these guys to their fellow countrymen, but perhaps they couldn’t avoid the influence. Vocalist Mark Robert Fuller, axeman Vin Andana and bassist Luke Peldys round out the band and certainly gave what they had to give, but when all was said and done, I think they were suffering from a bit of first-gig-of-the-tour sluggishness. Tour lurgy usually sets in at the end of a long stint on the road, but when you are 16,000 km and 16 hours away from home, it’s going to take you a bit to get your footing. (I happened to catch them the next night in Baltimore and can confirm that on the bigger stage and with another night in the Eastern time zone, their performance was much better.)

After the cut: the set lists.

American Authors Set List:
Couldn’t Get It Right
Hit It
Best Day of My Life
Keep Me Dreaming
Run Back Home

A Silent Film Set List:
Reaching the Potential
This Stage is Your Life
Driven By Their Beating Hearts
You Will Leave a Mark
Thousand Mile Race
Love Takes a Wrecking Ball
Harbour Lights
Danny, Dakota & the Wishing Well

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2 Responses

12:30 am
9th February 2013

RT @tgtf: live review: Gold Fields @goldfields A Silent Film @asilentfilm American Authors @aauthorsmusic @uhalldc Monday night http://t

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