I was too sick and scared of the 25F weather to leave my house on Friday night- Luckily, the TPWP music contributor was there to tell me and you all about it – Here is his review:
I’m finding it exceedingly rare to see a rock show with influences that span more than one genre, let alone more than one generation. That’s why I was so surprised to see one on Friday with influences ranging from The Kinks to The Killers, Social Distortion to Sam Cooke, Morrissey to (Charles) Manson. Iota Club and Cafe, in Arlington (gasp, suburbs, I feel the same way as TPWP but we’ll soon see that it was worth the trip) is normally home to folky singer songwriters and their bohemian ilk, but on Friday it hosted a ROCK show.
The Payola Reserve opened with a selection of songs from their two proper albums and their forthcoming third. The Baltimore four-piece mines influences from rock, pop, country and R&B and fuses them into lush concoctions of melody and noise that throw you on the ground, pin your arms back, and scream “LISTEN TO ME!” The rhythm section of drummer Ken and bassist Danny keep the band in perfect time and add exciting flairs while lead guitarist/keyboard player Al’s distinctive styles move to the forefront between verses delivered by singer/rhythm guitarist Ben in his lonely lilt. Their signature original song, Lost Wind Craze off their second album, “200 Years” was the show stopper…was…until they closed the set with a blistering, face melting version of Revolution Blues, Neil Young’s Charles Manson character study from his seminal 1974 release, “On the Beach.” Much like the Manson family itself, the Payola Reserve’s rendition of this chilling song deconstructed as it went on, disintegrating into a beautiful, captivating mass of lonely, crying notes and drum beats, Ben’s howls and Al’s shrill guitar lead buttressed only by the repetitive pistol pop rhythm from Ken and Danny.
Following the Payola Reserve was DC’s own US Royalty. TPWP has already sang their praises in this space, so I won’t belabor the point beyond echoing her sentiments. Their influences are primarily modern (they are quite young), but quite good, and they deliver their tunes with a confidence and sincerity that belies their age. Lead singer John is a budding rock star, a ball of energy sitting to pound his keyboard, jumping up to shake a tambourine, running back to the mic to deliver a verse, you can’t take your eyes off him. That’s not to discount the rest of the band, who are much more than a vehicle for his showmanship. The musicianship is tight on all fronts and you can’t help being sucked in by such strong songs, a logical evolution of bands like The Cure and Franz Ferdinand.
They are the two best (and coincidentally fitting for this blog, most well dressed) local bands I have seen in 7 years in the Baltimore-Washington area.