Sometimes i go and see a show just because things that i have read about the band seem interesting. For example, Q And Not U are described as being angular DC punk -- a mix between Fugazi and The Dismemberment Plan. I like both of those acts, so this show was worth checking out.
I got to The Earl at 11:30 PM. Just in time for The Young Antiques to go on. I have never seen them before, but apparently they are a local band with some kind of following. There were more Young Antiques fans there than Q And Not U fans. And the fans of The Yong Antiques really got into it -- dancing and singing along.
And it's easy to understand why: The Young Antiques make a distinctly non-threatening sort of power pop. Kind of like a less edgy version of Green Day. They had power chords. They had harmonizing vocals. They had a drummer beating the crud of his kit. They had short jam-like guitar solos. It was the type of music that i associate with sit-coms. That is, i can imagine a Young Antiques song being used in the soundtrack for, Friends or Ally MacBeal. It's silly and fun, if not very innovative.
Which, i must admit, filled me with a bit of trepidation in reference to the headliners: were Young Antiques added to the bill due to sound similarities, or just because the DC-based headliners needed a local band to draw in the crowd?
Option two is the correct one here: the Young Antique fans slowly filed out all during Q And Not U's performance. I suppose that screaming vocals and complex bass rhythms were not what they were there for.
However, this is not to imply that Q And Not U played to an empty house. The band pointed out that some of their fans had come from Athens to see them. And there were quite a few people getting down, dancing in that "having an epileptic fit" sort of way that white kids dance to math rock, and singing along.
I thoroughly enjoyed it. They were godawful loud (the bassist's amp was larger than any amp i have ever seen placed on the stage of The Earl to date -- one of those 5 feet tall by 3 feet wide deals), and played fast and hard. It was a time to let go and lose oneself in the dynamic interplay of drums, bass, and two guitars.
I would also like to point out that their drummer was quite good: he really kept an awesome beat around all of the stuff that the guitarists and bassists were doing, and he drove the songs along mercilessly.
Now, the thing is Q And Not U have quite a bit of material that could be classified as "math rock": complex rhythm signatures (5/8 or something like that -- don't ask me the details, i have a hard enough time keeping 4/4 time!) and sudden speed changes. What they add to this whole thing is some brilliant melodies: they would be up there, playing along, and then one of the guitarist would pick up this bouncey little riff that could have found a home in a pop song, but instead is layered on top of gyrating bass for a nice effect. This happened several times, when they would start with something difficult to follow rhythmically and then segueway into something that would just get your toe tapping, even though the rest of the band was still going all mathy. I really liked that effect.
So i think that this was a risk well-taken. Q And Not U measured up to my expectations and put on a soulful performance. The Young Antiques, while breaking no ground, at least played their typical music well.