Over the past several years, no band has put the District’s current indie rock in the context of the previous two decades’ better than Imperial China. Drummer Patrick Gough played in early ’90s outfit Pitchblende, the acrobatic mathiness of which filtered into Imperial China’s aggressive, and eventually very spacey, post-post-hardcore. “Go Where Airplanes Go,” the best song on Imperial China’s 2010 full-length Phosphenes, ditches the lumbering, beams-and-bolts guitars of the album’s first half for synths, loops, humming percussion, and careful repetition—tricks that the band, which also includes Brian Porter and Matt Johnson, would exploit to even fuller effect on what turned out to be its swansong, 2012’s strong How We Connect. Along with groups like Hume and Buildings—as well as their home, Sockets Records—Imperial China was one of the most visible bands of the early 2010s, a brief stretch in which D.C. indie rock felt both vital, eccentric, and largely disconnected from its previous incarnations, with Imperial China around to put the scene’s spacey explorations in the same universe as Hoover and Fugazi. Now, the label is gone, and those groups are either less active or done for good—including, soon, Imperial China, which recently announced its final show and breakup. Maybe, if we’re lucky, it’ll be more like a long-term hiatus.
May 29 at Black Cat Backstage with May Tabol and Tereu Tereu. $12. blackcatdc.com.