chickfactor’s Anniversary Shows at Artisphere: What We Learned
As promised, everyone partied like it was 1992 Friday and Saturday night at Artisphere for the 20th anniversary of chickfactor, the indie-pop zine founded in D.C.—in fact, by Washington City Paper staffers—back when indie didn't connote NPR adoration and Billboard placements. Erica Bruce took some pictures. And this is what we learned.
Between most songs in Black Tambourine's set, Mike Schulman, Archie Moore, and (Washington City Paper staffer) Brian Nelson switched off between guitar, bass, and percussion. Singer Pam Berry, lectern in tow, stayed in the center—and because it was true to the original recordings, it was OK that her voice was a little low in the mix. Everything was loud, fast, and feedback-strewn. About 5 percent of the audience was absolutely flipping out. Seventy to 80 percent was mostly flipping out, but with less flailing. "We’ve practiced three times in a row, which is three more times in a row than we’d ever practiced before,” Moore said after the show.
Stuff on the floor during Black Tambourine's set included an iPhone, near the drum kit, and a Room 11-logoed bag that Berry toted offstage—along with an armful of flowers.
Folks seemed split on the solo set from Lilys' Kurt Heasley. All would agree he is an amiable hippie. "We're a family," he said at one point, "on a spaceship."
Fan Modine sported a nice variety of patterns. But their sunshine-y twang felt a little tangential to the evening's indie-pop purpose.
Other than Black Tambourine, the most memorable set might have been Lorelei's, because they did a sick Pale Saints cover, because their noisy pop is so well-practiced and taut, and because amid all the forward thrust and squall, the bass does all the melodic heavy lifting. The D.C. group has a new record, Enterprising Sidewalks, out sometime soon.
Stevie Jackson mounted a full-on charm assault. He was gracious, self-deprecating, took requests, and brought out Honeybunch to back him for the last few songs. For "To Be Myself Completely," the audience offered falsetto backing vocals completely unprompted. At several points, he sang both parts of his duets. "Step Into My Office" got a bluesy makeover. "We're gonna go to the delta," Jackson announced. Another highlight: "The Wrong Girl."
On night 1, Berry also sang with The Pines. Was nice.
Frankie Rose's booming womb-pop ought to have been loud enough to fill the room; also, it deserved a full room. Friday night felt pretty underattended, but Saturday was sold out, and therefore the universal order of things remains intact. Related: The sound isn't great in Artisphere's ballroom, but some of the volume problems on night No. 1 seemed to have been fixed by Night No. 2.
The Wizard of Oz projected both in Artisphere's lobby was a nice touch.
chickfactor co-founder Gail O'Hara thanked Washington City Paper publisher for hiring her and co-editor Pam Berry and allowing them to meet. Awwww.
That is what we learned. Look at Erica Bruce's photos now.