Live Review: Blossoms with Wilderado at Songbyrd Music House, Washington, DC – 3rd June 2017

By on Monday, 5th June 2017 at 2:00 pm

Songbyrd Music House and Record Café is a relative newcomer on the music scene in Washington, having opened in summer 2015 and only recently come on my radar following an invitation to see Sundara Karma there post-SXSW 2017. Located in the heart of Adams Morgan on 18th Street Northwest, the question will be how big of a draw the place will become compared to its more famous brethren in the U Street corridor. It’s important to note that at its 150-person capacity, it’s a worthy alternative to DC9 to see up-and-coming artists in a very intimate setting. For regular attendees of The Great Escape, imagine being in Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar in Brighton: the claustrophobia from the low ceiling, the poles obstructing your sightline, but without the infamous sticky floors. The crowd Saturday night was in remarkably good spirits, which was a good thing considering there was a hour delay in opening doors and it felt like we’d been waiting forever outside in a queue while passersby gawked at us.

Blossoms at Songbyrd Music House, 3 June 2017

Los Angeles-based alt-folk rockers Wilderado opened the evening at Songbyrd. I was cynical of their mustaches, predicting they’d sound like a a Kings of Leon, Southern rock-directed retread. To my surprise, they sounded less like the Followills and more like hugely popular folkies The Lumineers. There’s a laid-back vibe that will appeal to those enamoured with the current burgeoning lo-fi scene. Their rich Eagles / Beach Boys-esque harmonies, exemplified from tracks like ‘The Ocean and the Sea’ and ‘Morning Light’, is a further feather in their cap. Following the success of The Lumineers and American Idol winner Phillip Phillips, the alt-folk scene is pretty crowded here in America, but how quickly Wilderado won over an audience waiting for an English pop band suggests huge potential.

But make no mistake, the devoted fans who queued for a long time outside the venue were there for Blossoms. The Stockport, Greater Manchester group had organised a series of dates on the West Coast earlier in the spring around their Coachella appearances, leaving us out in the cold. Thankfully, management had the wisdom to do the same around their Governor’s Ball and Bonnaroo sets, too, so us East Coasters would get some face time with them. I’d covered them live for TGTF 2 years ago, when they made their first trip out to Austin for SXSW 2015, followed by appearing at Dr. Martens’ stage at the Green Door Store at The Great Escape 2 months later. You’ve heard the story: gaining further momentum in the UK, they caught the eyes and ears of Virgin EMI, who signed them and released their self-titled debut last summer.

Their first-ever appearance in DC was sold out, which must have been great validation of their talent. Like what I’d imagine for their audiences in Britain, the turnout was a mix of excited youngsters and older folks, all drawn in by their catchy tunes. Starting things off on a confident pop note were he driving rhythm and glittery synths of ‘At Most a Kiss’, met by punters’ resounding cheers. They quickly followed this with hugely popular singles: the bluesy ‘Blow’ and ‘Cut Me and I’ll Bleed’, then the infectious ‘Getaway’, their 21st century version of ‘One More Night’. Later on the set, ‘Blown Rose’ and its wistful lyrics “the stately homes of England / how beautiful they stand / lately it’s a lonely love I know / blown rose, go” seemed particularly poignant in light of the London terror attacks just hours before.

As the set progressed, Blossoms showed they were equally at home with dynamic pop as when they push the boat out further. A recent example of this is their recent collaboration with electronic drum ‘n’ bass legends Chase and Status on ‘This Moment’, which has brought the band to the attention of an entirely new group of fans. Two songs from ‘Blossoms’ that deviate from their hit-making formula, ‘Smashed Pianos’ and ‘Deep Grass’, were a tough sell on the album. However, they were far more convincing live and suggest that this Northern band are far more than a one-trick pony. That said, the reaction to single ‘Charlemagne’, used as the closer to their set, proved without a doubt that their knack for writing a memorable pop song will put them in good stead for years to come. They’ll no doubt be headlining a far larger venue the next time they come to our town.

Blossoms at Songbyrd Music House, 3 June 2017

Blossoms appear at The Foundry in Philadelphia tonight; to see the rest of the dates on their American tour this month and their other announced appearances in 2017, visit their Facebook page. Read more on Blossoms here on TGTF through here. After the cut, you can see the band’s set list from the show Saturday night.

Blossoms’ Set List:
At Most a Kiss
Cut Me and I’ll Bleed
Honey Sweet
Smashed Pianos
Across the Moor
Blown Rose
My Favourite Room
Deep Grass
This Moment

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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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