Music fans in the D.C. region are a lucky bunch, as there are many talented local bands playing the smaller clubs of the DMV (District/Maryland/Virginia) on a regular basis. On a recent Friday night (March 11, to be exact), three fine young area bands came together for a night at northern Virginia’s Jammin Java club, proving that you don’t have to travel far or spend big to have a great night of music.
No. VA’s own Sub-Radio headlined, celebrating the CD release of its new album, Same Train//Different Station. (Alas, the discs weren’t delivered in time for the show, so the group offered pay-what-you-wish home-burned CDs for those who couldn’t wait.) Formerly known as Sub-Radio Standard, the band may have dropped the last word of its name, but hasn’t lowered its standards when it comes to making melodic, alternative pop/rock that’s influenced by the likes of Oasis, Jack’s Mannequin and Maroon 5.
A popular act at drinking spots and local festivals, SR has perfected the skill of playing covers for the weekend bar crowd, able to fill a two-set night with crowd-pleasers like “Sugar, We’re Going Down” and “Uptown Funk,” Young the Giant and Taylor Swift, but this was a night to concentrate on original material that, to the band’s songwriting and performing credit, could easily play next to any hits on a smart modern playlist.
The 10-song set list was devoted to the entire new album, in slightly revised order, its multi-part harmonies riding above the strong lines provided by the guitar trio of Matt Prodanovich, Mike Chinen, and John Fengya, (who also plays keyboard), while dancefloor beats from bassist Mark Barry Siford and drummer Michael Pereira kept the energy level high. The cherry on top of the tasty sound is Adam Bradley, a lithe, charismatic lead singer.
The band has toured up and down the East Coast for the past few years, from New York to North Carolina, and will be playing out extensively to promote the new album, so keep your eyes and ears open for Sub-Radio.
The middle band on the bill, Swell Daze, has also been touring for the last few years, solidly tightening a live show that reveals influences of classic rock and alternative rock, with blues and psychedelic (as befits the name) undertones. Lead singer McCoy Douglasson prowls the stage with swagger and style – he’s a guy who looks in the mirror when choosing his outfit and fixing his hair. Likewise, the band conveys the confidence that comes from having won numerous local band battles, including one last year at this same venue.
Last summer, Swell Daze released Electrify Me, a 6-song EP, available for download on iTunes, Amazon, Reverb Nation or to stream at bandcamp.com.
The night’s opening act, Belmira, is a new iteration of another favorite band, its singer/songwriters – Annika Rowson and Jonathon Cumber – former frontpeople of the group known as Tandem North. The pair’s lovely vocal interaction, often recalling Of Monsters and Men, remains intact in a new quartet format, with Katherine Boufford adding graceful accents on cello, and Michael Pereira (yes, the same guy mentioned above in Sub-Radio) on percussion and drums.
Though Belmira is still working to record its debut, you can link to plenty of musical action through the group’s Facebook page and catch a live show – opening for Sub-Radio again – on May at the Epicure Cafe. See you there!