Live Review: The Postelles with Hurricane Bells and Blackbells at DC9, Washington, DC – Saturday 18th September 2010
The first time I heard the Postelles‘ ‘White Night’, I was in love. The first band I ever fell in love with were the Beatles and the Postelles have this aesthetic that reminds you of the Fabs in their early years, yet getting to hear this band now, just at the brink of stardom, is something truly special. DC9 might not be iconic now as the Cavern in Liverpool (RIP) was in the early ’60s but the Postelles’s Saturday night show just may have been the birth of Postellementalism. (I’m no Stuart Maconie but perhaps that phrase will come into common usage as his ‘Britpop’.) I was so excited about this show that I was a little worried that I might break down in tears or my heart might burst in happiness when I saw them play, as I’d seen them in March opening for Hockey and thought they completely blew the Portland band away.
Funnily enough, the two openers for the evening had names that rhymed with ‘Postelles’. The first (and in my opinion, far better) was Blackbells, an unsigned rock quartet from Brooklyn. In the botanical world, there is no such thing as blackbells, but I think it’s a great name to give to a band, because flowers are beautiful things but in rock music, songs can be beautiful even if they are a little dark and if you will, slightly sinister. At times, they were channeling Led Zeppelin (‘Before the Flood’, ‘Bad Bones’) and great alt-rock bands like (dare I say it) early Oasis (‘Young Again’, ‘This is Home’). I loved how lead singer/guitarist Ben Rice was happy to share the limelight with guitarist Anthony Stella. With bands like this, who needs Kings of Leon?
Next was Hurricane Bells, whose stage setup had an Echoplex box in the middle of the stage. Odd. This New York band plays enjoyable but not particularly extraordinary pop/rock. I was examining the set list at the feet of Steve Schlitz, the lead singer, and he said to me mockingly, “that’s not that interesting. It’s just a guitar pedal.” (Colour me curious, but I can’t be the only punter at shows who wants to look at what songs are on tap for a set.) Unlike the previous band that seemed to be a democracy, it was clear that Schlitz was the star. This is decent middle-of-the-road rock, but there’s something about the way he was squealing on his guitar seemed incongruous. Needless to say I couldn’t wait for the Postelles.
As I was recommending to a DJ who had flown all the way from San Diego for this DC show, if you like Frankie and the Heartstrings and the Crookes, you’re gonna love the Postelles. After some label sparring, the band signed to heavyweight EMI/Capitol this year, pretty incredible if you think about how young they are. (They’re in their early 20s…remind you of anyone? Err, the Beatles.) When you see them live, you understand immediately why they’ve been courted by the bigwigs of the music industry.
Lead singer/guitarist Daniel Balk has the swagger and magnetism necessary for a successful frontman. This is on top of amazingly good guitar and drums. There are very few guitarists that make me weep, but golly, David Dargahi is fantastic, like on the end of ‘Boy’s Best Friend’, a song about a girl two of the members dated in high school but turned into a lesbian – it’s a funny song but heartfelt at the same time. Songs like ‘Sleep on the Dance Floor’ and ‘Hey Little Sister’ showcase the band’s high energy, fun performance. Every single song played was spot on, and the crowd ate it up. It didn’t matter if you were a party girl or a guy looking for a rock show, everyone loved the Postelles. This gig at DC9 was sure to be one of the band’s last small headlining shows: their mainstream success is just around the corner.
Hurricane Bells Photos:
The Postelles Set List:
Sleep on the Dance Floor
New song (possibly called ‘Sound the Alarms’ – stay tuned for my interview with the band coming soon!)
Hey Little Sister
Beat on the Brat (Ramones cover)
Boy’s Best Friend
The Postelles Photos: