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SHOW REVIEW: The Washington Social Club
July 3, 2002 - The Black Cat

By: Buddy Lambert

I had never seen the Black Cat so crowded on a Wednesday night until The Washington Social Club played the back stage on July 3. A double bill featuring fellow D.C. rockers Fishmarket, the show was the official CD release party for "And now for--," the Washington Social Club's first EP. Yes, their first EP, and they've been getting gigs all over town since December based on word of mouth. It was a ball-freezing, godforsaken January night that I first saw them play the Grog and Tankard, a club I would never ever go to by choice, but after that night, I would have gone back to see the Social Club play any day of the week.

If you have yet to hear their music, it's criminally catchy. It gets in your head and it stays there for weeks, and the only way to cure it is to go to their next show and see them rock out again. "Breaking the Dawn," the first track on their EP, is destined for continuous radio play. It is frontman Marty Social's ode to screwing until the sun comes up -- "You turned on the radio, and the radio turned me on--Let's do it one more time before dawn." The band broke it out halfway through the set, and a room full of hipsters broke their frozen stances. That is what The Washington Social Club is all about -- tearing the D.C. socialites away from their barstools and making the Indie rockers do more than jerk their knees. Before playing their new song "Indy Pop # 67 (Pocono Mountains)," Marty instructed the audience to "do the indie," crossing his arms and staring coolly at the many who were already doing just that. The crowd laughed nervously, and promptly uncrossed their arms. I applaud the guy for mocking the band's own peers and critics; it only got them more into the show.

This energetic three piece exudes and inspires good times like only your on-the-edge, alcoholic-later-in-life best friend. Each song is a three-minute pop tribute to rock and roll and partying, with a few mournful tunes on bittersweet love thrown in. The set began with the second track on their EP "Modern Trance," an eerie update of Elvis Costello's "Welcome to the Working Week," likening the working masses to the walking dead. Next came "Simple Sound," truly as danceable as the first, aptly titled, and with a catchy chorus of "oohs" that only a three-chord rock trio could successfully employ. "Let the Night Begin" was a rock and roll success -- the crowd totally responded to drummer Randy's crashing of the cymbals and bassist Olivia's "Baby!" backing vocals on the chorus while Marty shook uncontrollably, swallowed the microphone, and broke at least one string. Rock and roll.

Things quieted down during "Sunny Day," a new '50s-inspired ballad with an oxymoronic title. I'm assuming it has something to do with an ex-girlfriend. Another slow tune was "River and the Road," which the band also recorded and handed out to the first 30 or so people in the door. This one puzzles me, as it has pretty dramatic lyrics, accompanied by very dramatic French horn, vibes and acoustic guitar on the recording, but I like it. And I think the crowd did, too.

If you haven't seen the Social Club play and you live in the D.C. or New York area, I can't recommend it enough. The more friends I've brought to their shows, the more impressed they are, and if the number of people at the Black Cat show is any indication, this band is headed upward fast. So, go to their next show, and definitely get yourself a copy of their EP. Let this night begin.

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