Live Review: Until the Ribbon Breaks at DC9, Washington, DC – 17th September 2015

By on Friday, 18th September 2015 at 4:00 pm
 

At the start of summer, back in June, Until the Ribbon Breaks played their first headline show in DC at Black Cat Backstage, a room of similar size to DC9’s performance floor. As much as I enjoyed that gig and was buoyed by the crowd’s intense reaction to Lawrie-Winfield and co.’s music, the turnout was less than I would have liked. Contrast that to this show 3 months later: there were certainly more people present, no doubt from the word of mouth from the last show and the strength of the debut album, and the energy in the room was even better, the trio – frontman Lawrie-Winfield, James Gordon on synths and backing vocals and Elliot Wall on drums and percussion – feeding directly off punters’ excitement, performing confidently and flawlessly.

Placed in a corner, the stage at DC9 is unusual, but I think it makes for a far more intimate experience, especially since there is absolutely no distance between artist and fan if you’re down the front and want it (memorably, I was practically looking up Simon Neil’s nose the one time Biffy Clyro played there in 2010). It’s hands down one of my favourite venues in the city for that reason, and with the right band as was case with Until the Ribbon Breaks and their fans last night, the atmosphere was incredible.

Pete Lawrie-Winfield and James Gordon of Until the Ribbon Breaks September 2015 Washington live 1

I brought a friend with me who knew nothing about them and is admittedly not an electronic fan at all. By the end of the show though, he was won over, surprised that Winfield-Lawrie not only sings, plays synths and beats, but also plays trumpet. There’s such a variety in tempo and vibe across Until the Ribbon Breaks’ songs, from the upbeat disco dance beat and “oh oh ohs” of ‘Spark’ to the two lyrical faces – one rap-happy provided by their Friday at SXSW 2015 FLOODfest billmates Run the Jewels, the other apocalyptic provided by Lawrie-Winfield – on the mesmerising ‘Revolution Indifference’, that there’s something for everyone.

Pete Lawrie-Winfield of Until the Ribbon Breaks September 2015 Washington live 2

Their music on record is the kind to savour in your ears while your body follows to the slow jam rhythms, and in a satisfying way I too rarely experience. When you see the band perform live in person, the feeling is heightened 1000-fold. While I expected ‘Perspective’, one of my favourites from ‘A Lesson Unlearnt’, to be utterly amazing, I was also captivated by the Eastern rhythms and the lovelorn lyrics of ‘Persia’. Recalling Lawrie-Winfield’s sweet story of being sung the tear-jerky ‘Romeo’ by a little boy in Paris when I chatted with him in June made the song the standout track of the evening for me as it closed the set proper.

Elliott Wall of Until the Ribbon Breaks, September 2015 Washington live 3

The punters at DC9, however, wouldn’t be satiated until the band came back out for an encore, chanting and cheering for the band to reappear. Their efforts were rewarded, with Lawrie-Winfield, Gordon and Wall returning to the stage, first with the reflective track that bears their act’s name, then ending with the arresting ‘Goldfish’. The words from the former – “we came from nothing / and we could go back there / if that’s what it takes / but I made a promise / that I’d try to keep you” – seem to be quite apt given the circumstances: three boys far away from Cardiff, playing to an audience in the States, against seemingly impossible odds, yet they keep going and do it for the art. We might have been in a 200-capacity club, but judging from the audience reaction last night, everything Until the Ribbon Breaks are doing is absolutely worth it all, because they’ve connected with the people.

It may be some time before we get another album from Until the Ribbon Breaks. But there is no doubt in my mind that it will be entirely worth the wait. Best wishes, friends.

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