Live Review: Everything Everything with Night Kitchen at U Street Music Hall, Washington, DC – 8th October 2016

By on Thursday, 11th August 2016 at 2:00 pm
 

More photos from this show are available on my Flickr here.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: there is something very special about witnessing a band from the UK you’ve known and loved for years making a meaningful connection with an American audience. The number present for the Everything Everything show Monday night at U Street Music Hall wasn’t the largest on this short East Coast tour for ‘Get to Heaven’; the Music Hall of Williamsburg gig in Brooklyn last Thursday takes that honour.

Being a DC native, I have understandable bias for shows in my hometown, especially those that elicit this kind of incredible response, and on a Monday night. It should be noted that the crowd was so heterogenous, highly unusual for a DC show usually made up of teenagers and young professionals. Young and old, male and female, regardless of age or persuasion, the devotion expressed to a band making their home some 3,000 miles across the Atlantic was vocal. And loud.

Night Kitchen 2 - U Street Music Hall

The opening band for the evening was local band Night Kitchen. I think it’s a safe assumption that upon seeing the childhood images of Hungry Hungry Hippos on a band’s EP that the band in question doesn’t take themselves too seriously. In the span of their 30-minute set, beardy, bespectacled frontman and defacto spokesman for the group Jordan Levine cracked a joke about the headliner (“How is everyone everyone doing tonight?”), and extolled the virtues of Thai iced tea (“Make it part of your life!”) and generally made for a light atmosphere that I’m sure was welcome for the youngest of gig-goers.

Night Kitchen 3 - U Street Music Hall

As for the music, Night Kitchen quickly proved why they were a good fit to perform with Everything Everything. With a similarly eclectic aesthetic, their sound takes cues from indie and funk and their songs have crazy titles. How does ‘title of first track of EP’ strike you? Breaking up their originals was a cover of Gary Numan’s breakthrough megahit ‘Cars’. It was most surprising in that there was no synth present onstage, and yet bolstered by Wyatt ‘T’ Rex’s bass playing, it worked amazingly well. Drummers don’t usually have their own cheering section, but their Emmett Parks did.

2016 marked the year that Everything Everything finally had an American release for one of their albums, for their most recent ‘Get to Heaven’, that had already been unveiled to the British public in June 2015. As long-time TGTF readers know, we’ve had a long affinity for their weird and wonderful music, going back to the 2010 Mercury Prize-nominated ‘Man Alive’. In some ways, you can say we’ve grown up together. They’ve come a long way since their BBC Sound of 2010 longlist nod, yet they’ve maintained their individuality and remained uncompromising about the music they make.

Everything Everything 2 - Alex Robertshaw and Michael Spearman - U Street Music Hall

‘Get to Heaven’ is the band’s most outspoken release to date and yet, most songs framed within pop structures, it gets the job done in catchiness while also conveying serious themes. I hadn’t been able to see them play this album properly outside of SXSW 2016 and a support slot with the Joy Formidable earlier this year. This time, playing their first headline show in Washington, the listener was afforded a special peek into this LP, while also being offered choice cuts from their back catalogue. It’s reasonable to expect the kind of enthusiastic reaction from singles ‘Kemosabe’ and ‘MY KZ UR BF’, the latter leading to a mass “whoa-oh-oh” singalong led by ringmaster Jonathan Higgs. The bass-heavy ‘Regret’ and ‘Schoolin’’ bolstered by the impressive chops of Jeremy Pritchard and the last-minute addition of ‘Photoshop Handsome’ to open the encore were nothing short of beautiful.

Everything Everything 8 - Alex Robertshaw and Jonathan Higgs - U Street Music Hall

In contrast, more challenging and less pop album tracks ‘Warm Healer’ followed by ‘Zero Pharoah’ require closer, more intellectual appreciation, the kind of appreciation that is lost on record. Michael Spearman’s atypical drumming on ‘Warm Healer’ don’t follow anyone’s past formula, yet act as a fantastic driver to the song. You can’t help be drawn into the weirdness of the rhythm. The live version of ‘Zero Pharaoh’, which on record left me cold when I was reviewing the album last year, was peerless. Lead guitarist Alex Robertshaw’s guitar lines act as a melodic driving force in Higgs’ analysis of greedy men in power, and it’s a less obvious masterpiece on the album in the shadow of ‘Regret’ and set closer ‘Distant Past’.

Everything Everything 4 - Jonathan Higgs and Jeremy Pritchard - U Street Music Hall

Whether it was the emphatic shouting back to Higgs on ‘Spring / Sun / Winter / Dread’ or the awkward boogie to ‘Fortune 500’ and ‘The Wheel’, you couldn’t find a fan in the room who wasn’t jubilantly happy with the band’s performance. The DC gig may not have been their biggest in America yet, but Everything Everything should now have the confidence to undertake a larger tour of our continent the next time they return to our shores. I, for one, can’t wait for their return.

Everything Everything 11 - Jonathan Higgs - U Street Music Hall

After the cut: Everything Everything’s set list.

Everything Everything Set List:
To the Blade
Blast Doors
Kemosabe
Get to Heaven
MY KZ UR BF
Regret
Schoolin’
Fortune 500
The Wheel
Warm Healer
Zero Pharoah
Don’t Try
Cough Cough
Spring / Sun / Winter / Dread
//
Photoshop Handsome
No Reptiles
Distant Past

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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