The Backstage at the Black Cat was sold out on Feb. 4 to welcome alternative artists COIN and Grizfolk to D.C. The small room made for an intimate setting, with performers just an arm’s reach away from audience members in the front row.
COIN pranced on stage to the tune of Kelly Clarkson’s “Since You Been Gone” and immediately jumped into its set, bouncing across the miniscule stage with every note. A huge roar came out of a number of adults in their 40s and up as the song opened, all of whom turned out to be the family of guitarist Joe Memmel.
Moving into their second song “Honey,” lead singer Chase Lawrence began to work the crowd, engaging them in clapping along. The group breezed through the first half of its set with the appearance of a slightly more rehearsed (and more talented) high school garage band. As COIN kept playing, the standout performance was Memmel’s, who managed to get so into his music during the song “Fingers Crossed” that his hat flew off of his head and into the crowd. He stumbled and began to fall on stage, still playing all the while. By the end of the performance, his face would be nothing but a mop of long flowing brown hair.
As the Nashville-based musicians began to wind down the set, they amped up the volume. They thanked D.C. for being such a stellar audience and announced the release of a new album in June. Then the band shot right into their brand new single “Run,” during which the audience pleasantly surprised COIN by already knowing the words. With the set coming to an end, Lawrence decided to close out by dropping the mic unapologetically and walking off.
Just a brief set change later, Grizfolk took to the stage. The Los Angeles-based headliner opened with some intense, folky harmonization and seamlessly transitioned into “Waiting For You.” As the night progressed, it was difficult to tell whether Grizfolk lacked the energy the opener had or with its five members on such a small stage, there was no room for them to amp up their performance.
Regardless of whether or not the band had a rowdy stage presence, their musicality was solid. As with COIN, the guitarist stole the show. Guitarist Fredrik Eriksson nailed every riff, sometimes without even glancing at the fret board. The group, just before wrapping up the night, announced that their D.C. fans were the first to know that they would be playing Letterman on Feb. 18. Then they transitioned right into a rocking cover of David Bowie’s “Suffragette City” to finish out a stellar night of music.