If Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. can’t make a bunch of DC white kids dance, then I’m a firm believer that no one can. To my content the rising buzz band sensation from Detroit Michigan got some bodies moving last night (5/13/11) at The Red Palace on the H st NE corridor in DC and my lack of dance skillz was not the focus of attention on the dance floor. Actually, there weren’t many “kids” at the show as I had expected. The majority of show goers that night were late 20’s to mid 30’s and ranged into a few 40 year olds floating around. The venue was an interesting choice for both Jr. Jr. and Generationals , I might have preferred them to play the Black Cat or even the Rock and Roll Hotel. The Red Palace feels kind of like a loft, a pretty small loft where making your way through the crowd can be tough and if you’re not right up front you’re not going to have a good view. It’s just not a very conducive space for a dance party, the atmosphere isn’t quite there. I don’t think the Red Palace is a bad venue in general, I’ve seen some great shows there like the Americana group Truth and Salvage Co. and the atmosphere was perfect. In any case Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. didn’t seem to mind, giving DC props and even mentioned that he might like us better than New York. They made the space there own with some J and R shaped light boxes, some American flags, and bubbles, can’t forget the bubbles! It was Jr. Jr.’s first headlining show in DC, the part electronic dance, part rock pop group haven’t been touring and recording that long but already they are taking names and numbers everywhere they go. They have one EP, Horse Power/ My Love Is Easy released to date that just came out July 2010 and their highly anticipated first full length called It’s a Corporate World coming out in June 2011. For the longest time I dismissed this band as yet another cheesy pop dance group based on their name. I hate the name Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. actually, not that I have anything against the race car driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., it’s just uber kitschy in this instance and makes me throw up in my mouth a little. Anyway, I found myself listening to some tracks one day mostly because the EP is pressed in red vinyl and comes with a cover that is in 3D and with 3D glasses, so I started thinking how bad could they be. Well, turns out they are the complete opposite of bad and may in fact be my favorite new indie pop group having just the right mix of rock guitar, catchy choruses, and fresh electronic effects. I heard some of the new material from the upcoming full length and I like it. The full length seems like it may be more song than chorus samples as predominant in the EP. They played a lot of material from the EP as you would expect and the songs sounded even more amazing with some live tweaks and twists. For instance, my least favorite song God Only Knows is a mild mannered pretty little song, but live Jr. Jr. added some heavy bass lines near the end and gave it a really cool dramatic hard rock feel which I thought was genius. Some other highlights included inviting fans on stage to dance with ghost masks on and a super cool version of Steve Winwood’s Higher Love. The name makes a little more sense now also, if you ever meet Josh and Daniel in person you will find that they are rather sweet lovable dudes.
Well, I’ve gotten this far already and I haven’t even mentioned the Generationals who were the opening act of the night. I don’t feel too bad about this though, since I just did a write up on them ( here ) a few weeks ago in honor of their new CD release which I picked up last night. I think my original comments about the evolving band are true. I saw them a little more than a year ago opening for Apples In Stereo and member wise they were very different having just a three piece band and stylistically more clean cut. The core of the Generationals has always been the duo Grant Widmer and Ted Joyner from New Orleans, but last night they came out with a five piece band which included things like bass guitar and extra backing electric guitars and the sound was much more layered with those elements. I think the evolving style is great! I think a band should experiment and explore new directions. I’m not sure the Generationals had that much fun in DC last night however. They had a great set with lots of energy, but the crowd was fairly low key. It’s kind of bad when the guys on stage are dancing more than people in the crowd. I don’t attribute this phenomenon to the band, like I said the set was great, it’s just DC style. I’m glad they got a little looser by the time Jr. Jr. came on stage. That about wraps it up, check out some of Bucket Blogger's photos and videos (!!) to get the full experience.
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