Futurebirds at the 9:30 Club

Athens, Georgia bred Americana band Futurebirds perform at DC's 9:30 Club. Photo: Futurebirds

WASHINGTON, July 1, 2013 — Futurebirds represents the growing genre that has been dubbed “Americana.” The band’s sound isn’t a new concept or one that necessarily originated when the term was first coined. Instead, it is simply a gathering together of different genre characteristics that are distinctly thought of as American.

It’s not a value thing or even a regional thing – although this type of music is specifically associated with middle and southern America – but it definitely conjures up the musical roots of some of this country’s most popular music.

This makes Futurebirds close in spirit to a populist band. Their recent appearance at the 9:30 Club is a prime example of a band that appeals to a mass audience while still sounding as if their sound was never meant to be mass-produced.

That’s not to say that Futurebirds isn’t a popular band. But they certainly create a fusion style that’s greatly appealing to a fairly large swath of contemporary music fans. While they may never be a huge band, following-wise, they are still the kind of band that will generally be enjoyed by a large majority of anyone who comes to hear them play live.

Futurebirds hail from Athens, Georgia, which seems to be one of those areas that specializes in their flavor of music. Not Athens, specifically, which has always had a college/indie rock appeal. Rather, when you cross the ill-defined border into the Deep South, you immediately sense that the Futurebirds’ style of music starts to pick up momentum. So, it’s easy to understand why Futurebirds are the way they are musically, how precisely they’ve crafted their sound, and why the whole package is so appealing in a live setting.

Futurebirds combines straight rock with the earnestness of country. Seasoned with slight hints of blues-rock and the occasional dollop of twisting psychedelic rock. It’s this concept that places them distinctly in the current realm of “Americana.” Everything they play is rooted in distinctly American styles, and it’s all right there, blended into the essence of each and every one of their songs.

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Their live set is unruffled, a calm and easygoing affair. There are bands that want an audience to pore over their songs to discover a deeper meaning, or at least come away with the impression that the band is about more than just their music. Futurebirds never really give this impression. Their entire show feels as if it’s just about the music, meaning they’re content to play their set of songs while sincerely hoping the audience enjoys them.

Their laid back vibe in performance has a lot to do with this effect, though. It’s the soft manner in which they play that gives off a workmanlike impression. Their songs are earnest because that’s who the band members are. Their lyrics aren’t especially deep, but that isn’t to say they lack meaning or stray from the truth. In fact this very naturalness makes the band that much more real in performance.

In addition, it’s abundantly clear they aren’t trying to twist anything around on the audience to get their point across. This is who Futurebirds is. What you see is what you get. Everything they do is right up front for the audience to see. That’s why they appeal to as large an audience as possible.

Ultimately the people who are going to enjoy Futurebirds the most are those down home music fans who just want to enjoy music on its most basic level rather than going all cosmic on the meaning of life.

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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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