Ayria, the War Tapes, and VNV Nation at the 9:30 Club.

24 July 2009

I got home early Tuesday afternoon after work and after taking care of some lifestyle maintenance (like synching my e-mail, filling out timesheets, and checking the backups) I got changed to hit the 9:30 Club with Lyssa and Laurelinde. We had tickets to see Ayria, the War Tapes, and VNV Nation who were playing an all ages show there last night (though technically the 9:30 is always all-ages). At the back of the closet I found my 40 hole Doc Martens, and discovered much to my chagrin that one of the boots is missing its lace, so I fell back on my old cycle boots. I need to either get a new pack of bootlaces or a length of paracord to get them back in service. At any rate we hit a local deli for a quick dinner and then hopped on route 66 east to take a shortcut through downtown DC (it’s faster than you’d expect around 1930 or so).

All things considered, the jaunt through downtown DC didn’t long at all, probably because most eveyrone who spends the day down there had already gone home for the evening. We arrived at the 9:30 and got our hands stamped about halfway through Ayria’s set. From what I could tell their set didn’t sound too different from the one they played the last time we saw them when they opened for the Cruxshadows during the Immortal Tour. Thus, I can’t say a whole lot about their performance other than their audio sounded much better and I’d like to get a closer look at their drumpads. Next up was the War Tapes, which seem to be a lesser known band from LA. I don’t know anything about them; to tell you the truth I hadn’t heard of them until the concert announcement a couple of weeks ago. From the songs they played during their set last night their lead and rhythm guitar lines are reminiscent of the Cure’s work from the 80’s and their lyrics remind me a little of the Mission UK’s. About halfway through I couldn’t help but wonder if some weird meta-cyberpunk fiction reality warp occurred because it felt as if we were actually at a Vitaly Chernobyl and the Meltdowns show from Snow Crash.

After the War Tapes’ set was over, the stage kit was stripped and redone onemore time. VNV Nation took the stage somewhen around 2100 local time (I wasn’t paying attention to the time). I’d never been to one of their shows before so I didn’t really have any expectations of what to expect, but from Lyssa and a few other folks I had heard a lot of good things. It seems as if most every industrial or electronic band these days has some sort of projected background visuals on a screen behind them, and VNV were no exception. I rather liked the Art Deco style images and animations they used in their stage show. I didn’t expect Ronan, the front man of VNV Nation to interact with the crowd as much as he did. It appears that he’s given to holding conversations with fans within range of the stage and extemporizing at length in between songs. I also didn’t expect front man Ronan to be accosted by a fan standing next to the stage, which triggered what amounted to a ten minute long comedy routine about being groped in public, his (slightly rotund) physique, and the builds of bigger gentlemen everywhere.

Unfortunately my camera’s power cell died just before VNV took the stage so most of the pictures I got from the end of the show came from my cellphone. Photography was further complicated by the preponderance of fans who would raise their hands at exactly the wrong moment and ignore polite requests to not do so. Ronan kept shouting at the crowd to move, to dance, to wake up – to do anything other than just stare at the stage, in fact. In our defense we were packed shoulder to shoulder on the dancefloor, dripping with sweat, and trying to dance meant that someone was likely to get hurt due to the close quarters.

Dear Ronan:

We all know you want to wake people up with your music. You’ve never been very subtle about that, which many of us happen to like. It’s what often draws us to your music. Those of us who already are don’t need to be told; this is very much like telling the folks pushing your car that you need help getting to the next gas station. Also, not all of us know the lyrics to your songs, otherwise we would, in fact, have joined you when asked.

PS: You know that balcony around the 9:30 that everyone was standing on? If we’d started dancing on it structural failure may have ensured, and nobody wanted that.

PPS: You played an amazing show. Come back to DC soon.

VNV played a three-song encore after their set was over, including one in which the crowd was asked to make video recordings of the song so that the footage could be used to make a video. He explained that making a decent video that tells a story costs a great deal of money and there aren’t many bands that can pony up a lot of scratch out of the gate. As only my cellphone was working at the time I don’t know how the video turned out but I’ll find out in a day or so when I pop the datacard into Windbringer. If the video doesn’t suck too badly I’ll try to get it to the band; failing that, I’ll post it to Google Video and link to it.

Unfortunately we had to leave early to get Rhianna to the nearest Metro station (the DC Metro stops running at 0000 EST5EDT during the work-week) so she could catch a train back to where she’d parked her car. We made it just in the nick of time, thankfully. There were other reasons for leaving after the second encore, however – for the past week or so I’ve been having problems with sinus headaches that just wouldn’t quit, a slight fever, and strangest of all pain in my upper and lower jaws. I was feeling poorly enough that I didn’t feel as if I could stay in the crowd and on my feet at the same time, and greatly needed quiet and downtime. The teeth in question have had root canals (which I’ve already bored or horrified you all with) so I shouldn’t have been feeling anything at all in there. A trip to the doctor’s office yesterday confirmed that I do have a sinus infection, and I’ve been put on a clusterbombing of Zithromax paired with an industrial strength decongestant spray to flush the garbage out of my sinuses.

I’ll put my pictures from the show up in a couple of days, once I’ve got them transferred from the datacards and cleaned up or resized a little.