Concert Reviews
The hottest gigs straight from the venue to your couch

Holiday Shores is too good to be an opener at the Red and Black (11/16)

on November 18, 2009, 1:45pm

I’m going to do something different here. Have you ever had the experience of going to a show, only to find out that the band you were there to see wasn’t the headliner? If you go to shows a lot, it happens, especially when each band on the bill is at similar places in their careers. Well that’s exactly what happened the other night at D.C.’s ever so tiny Red and Black. While the Evangelicals were set to be the nights closer, Holiday Shores were the reason I was there. It wasn’t anything personal, just happenstance that they ended up being smack in the middle of the bill. So to my surprise, and for the first time, I found myself reviewing an opener.

Florida’s Holiday Shores have one of those solid and fulfilling debut records. It’s bass heavy with echoing, twangy, guitars that sound like the entire band is submerged. Splashes and lazy summer vocals revel in all the abstract yet deeply personal things bands love to sing about making Columbus’d The Whim just too addictive to miss. That being said, it was a little hard to peg how they would translate live, still being new, and especially in a place that was BYOA (bring your own amp) with very little to offer for an in house sound system.

With mixed expectations milling around, “Days Drag” kicked the set off and threw all doubt down the bars drain. With a room built for thirty, the tiny stage was set up with a makeshift table for the keys and xylophone, and the five guys, looking tee-shirt sharp, all crammed together. What came out though was a sound bigger than the bar was made for. Off the record, the songs became tight little nuggets of reverb drenched surf rock heaven, which is always impressive for a band still so fresh.

holiday1 Holiday Shores is too good to be an opener at the Red and Black (11/16)

“Bradley Bear” saw soaring “oh’s” with murky guitars coating the harmonies. The playful vocals stirred up some dancing, leading into the big energy of “Reruns” as “gotta get out!” was slurred into the mic. As the single off their record, “Phones Don’t Feud”, with it’s catchy little intro, was stuck in the middle of their short thirty minute set. Guitars were strummed and plucked with bohemian ease, and the bass lines sounded fresh and thick.

Some covers made their way out during the night. The first band to go on set the bar with some Dinosaur Jr. Holiday Shores would step it up doing The Byrd’s version of Bob Dylan’s “You Ain’t Goin Nowhere”. It was a great little break that showed just how glued together this band is, even when they turn off the keys and effects and just play. “Errand of Tongue” closed the set with what was easily their best song of the night. It was a bigger jam, not just a rock song, that turned up the rhythm and the sweat melodies. You could tell that they were really laying into this one since their previous efforts to play a few more songs was squashed thanks to the clock. In spite of those efforts, they made the final song count, and left everyone feeling giddy and anxious.

Monday night saw a crowd of friends, friends of friends, and band mates supporting each other. After each set, they would walk up and talk to their compadres, shake hands, give hugs, and make fun of each other. That’s usually how a weeknight indie rock show goes, playful, light hearted, and fun in the most intimate way. That’s exactly how Holiday Shores brought it, and it resulted in an unexpected and memorable show. There’s no doubt that these guys are headliner material, they just happened to be stuck in the middle this time.

Set List:
Days Drag
Bradley Bear
Reruns
Phones Don’t Feud
Experiencer
You Aint Goin’ No Where (Bob Dylan cover)
Errand of Tongue

holiday2 Holiday Shores is too good to be an opener at the Red and Black (11/16)

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