Posted by: Brian | February 27, 2008

The Headlights and The Evangelicals Take On Iota

(Disclaimer – you are about to see some of the worst camera-phone pictures ever.)

Sorry for the late review, but last Thursday night Iota hosted an amazingly great show.

The headlining Headlights did not disappoint. Lead by duel lead vocals a la Stars, albeit a bit poppy-er, ran through a great set at the cozy, brick-walled NoVA venue. I have to admit the only visual representation I had of the band prior to the show was their Cherry Tulips music video – which really doesn’t do them justice. Cherry Tulips is currently their most recognizable song – and the one that they saved to finish off the set with. Its bright and prominently features their semi-Feist-like co-leadsinger, but has all the guys in the band wearing button-downs and ties which felt off kilter with their Kill Them With Kindness first album. Most of the guys were wearing plaid why they belted away at their guitars and tambourines in indie fashion and truly seemed to enjoy and love playing at Iota’s personable stage – it wasn’t what I expected from just watching that video, but made far more sense taking a harder look back at the band.

Much more below the fold:

Don’t get me wrong, I really like Cherry Tulips, and it could be my favorite song by the band, but it in no way encompassed the experience. Switching up instruments and substituting beer bottles for slides Headlights was a curing contrast to the cold February night outside. The moving tempo in conjunction with the color kicking from keyboard kept the crowd cruising (and probably also a with little help from the antifreeze provided by the bartenders…).

Coming on after Headlights was a band with an entirely different song and stage presence. The Evangelicals at first appearance looked like a young, 2008 version of the Cure that listened to the Killers maybe every tenth song. They ditched the Iota’s standard string lighting in favor of blacklights and glow-paint which added to previous perception (see the pic to the right. Once you got use to the very echo-heavy vocals, the lead singers very active arm movements (sometimes with one hand on the keyboard, but usually not), and the afore mentioned lighting I started to get interested as to what it would shape into with its building energy . Right away you can tell that their bassist is extremely talented – all the band members looked pretty young, but you could tell he had crazy potential already.


Then, all of a sudden about 3 songs into the set WHAM – all power is goes out. Sound gone, lights gone, room stops. After about 2 seconds of “what the hell just happened” they brought back some of the previously turned off stage lighting to find that a fuse had blown or something to that effect that would need some time to be repaired. You would think fail, but exactly the opposite occurred. Josh Jones, the Evangelicals’ frontman, did an amazing job of crowd control – at first cajoling them into drinking more but then really adding some depth to his performance. After a couple seconds someone handed Jones an acoustic guitar – not even sure that it was his – and with it he went on to play a solo/acoustic version of Snowflakes. It was a complete departure from their loud and multi-layered sound, but the contrast really added to both. Above all it sounded very sincere and the crowd ate it up with a spoon. With almost perfect timing, Iota got the juice back on right as the song was ending and after much applause for the unplanned acoustic special the gig was back on.

With backlights up, glow-paint in full effect, and amps, reverb, and all other effects back in their upright and fully-locked posititions the show was back up to its previous high energy status. The remaining set was very good – playing hits like Skeleton Man which sounded just as good live as it does recorded. But it wouldn’t have been as good as Headlights’ without the opportunity adversity gave them in the form of the power outage. Also, I agree with Jen over at BYTs – the lampshade hat was a bit unnecessary. But hey, it was entertaining and I’m damn glad I was there.

Also, I wasn’t able to get there in time to catch the opening act We Were Pirates, but be sure to check the DCist for a review.

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