British bands play slow, dreamy sets on U Street
Britrockers Hard-Fi and Editors conquered U Street corridor at 9:30 club and the Black Cat
Hard-Fi hail from Staines, England, which they try to pass off as West London (Americans won't know the difference!). Tom Smith's Editors call Birmingham, a former northern factory town, their home, and make no mention of their English citizenship in their songs. Both of these Brit bands tossed away the cozy feeling of home to become familiar with the District last week when they blasted the U Street corridor with tracks off their debut albums, hitting audiences with a post-punk wave of rock paraphrases.
Hard-Fi gave away their secret at the Black Cat on Thursday night when they revealed the unmatched genius of the guy who produced their debut album, "Stars of CCTV." The vocals were shoddy and notably adjusted in range, and the guitar and bass lines jiggled loose as grandma flesh. The band members' pants and the sweet echo of the melodica piercing through songs like "Unnecessary Trouble" were the only things that fit nice and snug. The enthusiastic crowd, strikingly familiar with song lyrics, did not cringe when lead singer Richard Archer said, "This next song's about getting your heart broken," in a perfectly slurred English accent, and they've adopted the "There's a hole in my pocket" chant from "Cash Machine" as an anthem. Probably after shelling out the dough for a few Pabst Blue Ribbons, no doubt.
Editors, on the other hand, pristinely crystallized the tracks from their debut, "The Back Room." Smith's resonant, Ian Curtis-like vocals filled the 9:30 club with their deep vibrations, while songs like "Munich" whirled over the crowd's head. The sharp punch of the guitars on "Bullets" mixed with the slow, dreamy rise of the vocals on "Camera" injected some variety into the set. And Smith encouraged swooning to the music that on its own reaches a romantic peak with his delicious look - his close-cut hair, damp white T-shirt and poetic gestures.
Though Hard-Fi and Editors squeeze into the throbbing vein of Brit rockers ? la the Kaiser Chiefs and Maximo Park, they build a fence between themselves and the majority with one, brutally honest and relatable lyrics (Hard-Fi) and two, unequivocal talent (Editors). Though the elements of predecessors are clearly present in both band's songs, the presentation of them is hardly an impersonation. Yes, Hard-Fi did do a piss-poor cover of the White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army" that was devoid of any sort of bass line, but it helped increase their set time to 45 minutes. Maybe both bands will come back in a year with a new album to help mix things up, but then again, maybe not. Though they sold the crowd last week, their successes may prove fleeting when their influences run out.