Live Review: Little Green Cars with East Ghost and Olivia Mancini at DC9, Washington DC – 20th March 2013

By on Tuesday, 9th April 2013 at 2:00 pm

Following their debut at this year’s SXSW, Irish band Little Green Cars is touring America right now. Hailing from Dublin, I was able to brag to my Irish friends that I was going to see the band before they did.

East Ghost Washington live

The downside to being so small is that you don’t get to pick your supports. Two local bands were on the bill ahead of the Emerald Isle’s folk pop offering. First up was Washington DC’s own East Ghost. A completely indie outfit, you’ll find them on Bandcamp and Soundcloud, and really nowhere else. There were a bit stereotypically hipster – three matching dark rimmed glasses, two plaid shirts, and a partridge…no, I mean beanie on the bass player. I jest, the music was quite lovely, classic three-piece guitar band and I enjoyed listening to them.

Olivia Mancini Washington live

Olivia Mancini, also from DC, quickly took the stage afterwards with borrowed instruments and no soundcheck. While they didn’t go into details, I know they were a bit harried as I saw them hauling gear into the venue at half past doors. But with two rockabilly punk-tinged chicks out front, they gave quite a show. Definitely music to get caught up in.

Indie upstarts Little Green Cars always brings to mind a neon green Volkswagen Beetle for me. I don’t know if they were going for such a cutesy image, but that’s what I got. With five band members and one touring member on keyboard, I’m not sure they could *fit* in a Volkswagen Bug, but perhaps they almost could owing to how well they fit six people on the tiny stage at DC9 the other night.

Little Green Cars Washington live 1

The song the band opened with was the one on their soon to be released album that really turned me off. This mass of auto-tuning over organ, however, was transformed into the most delicately wrought, a capella five-part harmony you could imagine. Obviously they chose to produce ‘Red and Blue’ the way they did on the album for artistic reasons, and clearly they weren’t going to be able to reproduce it live. So huge kudos to them for turning it into a thing of beauty rather than skipping it altogether.

Slowly they added to the structure of the songs, from the initial a capella, adding in just the acoustic guitar for the next song, and finally the full band rocking out with their brand of indie folk pop. The funniest moment came when a broken guitar string forced a restringing break. Singer/guitarist Stevie Appleby decided to read us a poem he had written about being on the road that included the line ‘we’d join you for a drink, but we have black ink’, alluding to the fact that here in America, we brand those too young to drink (yes folks, it’s still 21 here) with gigantic black Xs on the backs of both his and singer Faye O’Rourke’s hands. I doubt it kept much alcohol away from the resourceful young Irishmen, but it was still funny.

Little Green Cars Washington live 2

O’Rourke must have been feeling under the weather though because she arrived on stage with her coat on. It lasted about half the set before she removed it and she struggled with her throat a bit throughout. Even still, I found her voice to be both powerful and delicate in turn, with ‘Please’ showcasing her range. And despite the sound being uncharacteristically tetchy, the two songs at the end ‘River’, again a capella, and the rousing ‘The John Wayne’ brought the house down. Quite a band, I consider it a coup to have seen them before my Irish compadres.

After the cut: Little Green Cars’ set list.

Little Green Cars Set List:
Red and Blue
Goodbye Blue Man
Mom & Dad
Harper Lee
Angel Owl
Big Red Dragon
The Kitchen Floor
The John Wayne

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2 Responses

5:55 pm
9th April 2013

Yes I was! RT @tgtf: we were there @dc9nightclub when @Littlegreencars made their Washington DC debut 20th March:

[…] go with anything else on the disc and muddied their usually clear voices and harmonies. However, see my review here of them playing in Washington DC to read how they brilliantly transformed this song […]

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