Fans and concertgoers filled U Street Music Hall halfway as Oberhofer took the stage on Oct. 6. Immediately, the band brought notable sense of humor: in a monotone, robotic voice, frontman Brad Oberhofer himself groaned, “Brad couldn’t make it, so we’re just going to do covers tonight.”
One phrase sums up the band and its performance as a whole: super rad. Oberhofer consists of Brad Oberhofer on vocals and guitar, Dylan Treleven on bass, Ben Roth on guitar, Zoe Brecher on drums and Shayne Weeks on keys and guitar. The band opened with “Memory Remains,” off its latest album “Chronovision.” The track is distinctly reminiscent of Brandon Flowers’ dejected voice circa “Hot Fuss” but balances itself with warmer, uplifting guitar riffs.
The show became more energized and upbeat when the band started bumping along to its fun, lighthearted track “White Horse, Black River,” also from “Chronovision.” As the room turned deep red, the crowd drew in closer to the stage, as if attracted to the light of a deep-sea anglerfish. Brad began to romantically sing, “Rode a white horse to a black river to swim to you.”
The show took a turn for the unexpected, as bass player Dylan Treleven fell on top of me from the stage. After his - and my own - recovery, Treleven continued to play on the floor in front of the stage. Suddenly, an arm came around Dylan’s neck, and a fan started snapchat-filming himself hugging the bassist as he played. Dylan, unfazed, continued to play as if there wasn’t a kid hanging off his back for two whole minutes.
To everyone’s excitement, the sharp, wolf-like howls of “Away Frm U” began emanating from the speakers, and everyone started bouncing along collectively. Brad, grabbing the mic and continuing to strum his guitar, jumped off stage and ran to the back of the venue, standing on top of the bar table, singing, “You’re pushing me away from you/And there’s nothing I can do/No I can’t fight all of your battles for you”. A sea of flashing phone cameras reflected the sweat shining on the singer’s face as he powered through the fan-favorite.
Brad eventually got back to the stage, still singing “Away Frm U”, and as the band reached the final verse, all its members jumped in unison for each riff: “I’ll get you right/ Pick you up right./ I’ll get you right/ Pick you up right on time.” Screams filled the air, drowning out the final drawn out, fuzzy note.
As if commenting on their own show, Oberhofer finished the set with “Gold,” from its popular album, “Time Capsules II”. Oberhofer gave a magical performance: from breaking the fourth wall and creating a visceral, emotive experience for all attendees, to the watery lighting falling on the band members’ faces as they murmured in unison “You shine like goOoOold.” Their assonating voices, coupled with the lighting, created an illusion of being under water - and made you feel as if you were floating along a river bed swathed by the beauty of the music.
Brecher gave a wild, awe-inspiring performance on the drums. Following the show, the band members invited me into their tour van, and Brecher ran out of the venue to grab a giant hotdog from Ben’s Chili Bowl. She then proceeded to consume the meal in under two minutes as we all sat inside the van. Despite the other band members’ fascination with the deliciously pungent chili dog, Roth declared from the front seat of the tour van, “Not only is there a huge mural of Bill Cosby on the side of Ben’s Chili Bowl, but there are no significant women painted on it either.”
Listen to Oberhofer’s latest album “Chronovision” on Spotify.