Drop Electric at the Black Cat

Atmospheric DC rockers Drop Electric perform at DC's Black Cat. Photo: Drop Electric

WASHINGTON, August 7, 2013 —Drop Electric has played a number of different venues around the greater Washington DC area, from Strathmore to DC9. That range in and of itself seems rather odd. Complicating matters further, the fit never quite feels right for the band. This is what made their recent show at the Black Cat relatively enticing before the band even set up or began their set.

Drop Electric is more or less the District’s answer to the atmospheric British post-rock of the early 1980s, although they manage to take that sound a few steps further to a slightly more dramatic place. This is why the Black Cat is such a perfect setting for Drop Electric to play. The venue is basically a midsized music club that, depending on the size of the band, isn’t too difficult to fill. But at the same time, it still provides amble amount of stage space for any band and at least adequate floor space for the audience.

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What makes Black Cat even better for an atmospheric rock band like Drop Electric is that the venue’s specialty is its ability to sustain its own certain kind of rock atmosphere. Under normal circumstances calling anything “dingy” would hardly be considered a compliment. Yet that exactly describes the Black Cat atmosphere, and this sells the popular concept of a forlorn rock club perfectly.

All of this is surface of course. But the club gives off the appearance of being dilapidated, aligning it with the type of rock acts that are generally booked there. The lighting is minimal, and the closer someone gets to the middle of the venue the darker it tends to get, especially once the band starts playing, giving both the band and the music a heightened level of importance.

When someone refers to atmosphere in regards to a band like Drop Electric, what they’re talking about more than anything is the number of layers the band applies to their music. Drop Electric is a band that’s concerned with overlapping guitars and a talented keyboardist who isn’t just there for window dressing. Everything about Drop Electric’s sound is complicated. They weave through intricate sound structures in their songs, which seem to extend for much longer than is usually the case.

There are a lot of things Drop Electric eschews that have become familiar within guitar driven rock. There’s no real riffing here, giving the band a more interlocking sound in which the individual parts service the band’s sound to a greater degree than usual. This effectively results in a consistent wall of sound that pings around the Black Cat’s space. Even the band’s vocals, sung by Kristina Reznikov – not necessarily a large part of Drop Electric’s sound when they do appear – seem to be focusing less on content and more on giving the band a low, sweet hum over the top of the guitars and keyboard, adding another signature effect to the band’s arsenal.

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All this resulted in a twisting, enticing soundscape for Drop Electric’s set at the Black Cat.  This is a band that worries less about crafting songs that fit a “normal” structure and more about creating music that’s sonically interesting.  It would be easy for a band like Drop Electric to come off as tedious and likely to lose the audience as they descend into each song. But the clever structure of each is always different, engaging the audience during the band’s entire set.

Drop Electric will be building on performances like the one at the Black Cat after signing with Lefse Records and releasing a new album in the fall.

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Stephen Bradley

Stephen Bradley is an avid music listener and an occasional writer.  He grew up in the Washington DC area and has been embedded in the local music scene for years.  Currently he lives in Vienna, VA.   He enjoys bands that have been broken up for at least a decade.

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