Posted by: Dan – Jul 18, 2012
The Republic reopened with a blast last Wednesday; Radio Rubber Room gave us The Dream Machine and Splendid Suns. It was a novel evening, as the TDM showcased their new drummer, Armani Williams (younger brother of Splendid Suns' drummer, Neko Williams). Rhythm flows through the veins of these young lads, and Armani's presence is an outright blessing. Frontman Jason Hunnicutt refurbished TDM's setlist with some new well-structured songs, all of which were lined with a softer, folkier feel. They weren't necessarily simple songs, but very concise, and the new sound was a fine digression from TDM's typically hard edge.
Ah, Splendid Suns - there are so many pleasant things to say about this band. The permenantly added presence of Brittany O' Neill is a game changer. Having her as a "back up" singer is comparable to having Jimi Hendrix on board as a rhythm guitarist. Frontman/songwriter Andrew Elijah Bayne has a finely honed ability to write deftly dynamic progressions. His chords move evenly, and at the end of the progression, I have the feeling of completion and closure, always with a feeling attached. Dean Pollard's trumpeting serves as a sort of adhesive to the music; if there were cracks in the floorboards of the songs, the trumpet fills space exactly where needed. There's a definite punk element to the Splendid Suns, almost like someone turned up the tempo on a Tom Waits album. I love watching stand-up bassist Owen Housden switch from bow to fingers and back again, acheiving fluidity with every structural change. And Neko, well, shit. He may be the best performing drummer that Richmond has to offer right now. Splendid Suns are unstoppable. I cannot wait for their debut album - coming out later this year.
This week, Radio Rubber Room presents Stomp Status, a supremely talented funk/jazz band from northern Virginia. They were recently called on to Radio Rubber Room's Thursday night show, during which we heard some awesome live performances. Check out the podcast and give Stomp Status a good listen before coming out to the Republic this Wednesday, 10pm!
Words by Dan Mulrooney, Photos by Tyler M. Conta