As D.C. cools down from its summer of oppressive heat (chino capris made a great comeback), Tree River, Deleted Scenes and Celebration at Subterranean A this past Friday was a great reasons to leave the air-conditioned apartment.
As usual, the basement apartment along 14th and R NW provided an intimate environment for a night of nationally innovative music thanks to Los Angeles Tree River, local favorite Deleted Scenes and Baltimore’s Celebration. Tree River, although novices at their awkward but friendly stage banter, provided pleasantly heart-bending and earnest folk pop thanks to the sweet lilt of singer Trevor Friedman. The backing instrumentals nicely framed the universally elusive lyrics: “I reach out to understand what is around me, I am in my eyes, I look out into the sky surrounding. I am all of my chemicals gathering us apart”. Furthermore, the sweet melody of soft percussion and strumming guitars heard on the standout tracks of “I am” and “Mountains” were so meditative that I accidently turned on all the lights with my back while ruminating on to Tree River. The folk-rock idea of Tree River might not be innovative, but their committed execution and strong live performance reveal that depth lies beneath.
Following Tree River’s subdued performance was D.C. stalwarts Deleted Scenes, known for energetic and intense live shows. Deleted Scenes has bounced between D.C. and New York the last few years and recently garnered a well-deserved amount of attention on Spin and blogs for their romantically catchy single “Bedbedbedbedbed” (the full-length Young People’s Church of the Air was released via Sockets Records). The quartet lived up to their reputation for lively shows, digging into their catalogue but playing mostly from 2009’s Birdseed Shirt. The combo platter of piano melodies, combative drumming and Dan Scheuerman’s emotive singing was clearly what the majority of the crowd had come to hear, especially when fan-favorite “Ithaca” off of Birdseed Shirt started (the air drumming and lyrics mouthing rivaled that of when Phil Collins “In The Air” comes on the radio). Deleted Scenes, clearly appreciative of the strong turnout, played a long and absorbing set of both dreamy and upbeat songs.
Although it was nearly midnight when Baltimore’s Celebration graced the floor, their intense, percussion-heavy sound awoke the slightly lethargic crowd. The large assortment of instruments (bongo drums, tambourines and keyboards) enabled smoot translations of 2007’s The Modern Tribe and 2010’s Hello Paradise. Katrina Ford's strong, haunting voice bounced off the concrete walls and the pounding beati induced hypnotic head-nodding. Continually building one song upon the other, only stopping briefly for a stand-in saxophonist, Celebration's set culminated in a breathtaking rendition of the tribal jazz-infused “Wildcats”.