ARCHIVE of District of Cacophony

April 11, 2007 | REVIEWS

Degrees of separation (The Aquarium, The Cassettes, Benjy Ferree at the Black Cat)

Last night I was talking to a friend about degrees of separation; I theorized that just through the simple process of aging, our network of friends and acquaintances keeps expanding to the point where the degrees of separation are trivial.

Last Saturday at the Black Cat were a trio of local bands that I have all sorts of close connections to. In fact I have met members of all of these bands before, but I can’t say I really know them. It’s such a small town, DC. You can’t go anywhere without tripping over some strange connection to everybody else.

Anyhow the local line-up on Saturday night was the opposite of the degree to which I wanted to see the bands. First up was The Aquarium, the band I was most interested in. I missed a lot of their set, but they are playing again soon, so I will try to check them out. I wasn’t sure how they would sound live, but they had cool films on display behind them and I did indeed enjoy what I saw. I have been digging some of their mp3s for a while, especially “Golden Pyramid” which you can download from the Buddyhead Medication blog. I have to get the full album. The Aquarium are opening up for Antelope on May 12 and I will try to be there ‘cuz I have been digging Antelope lately too. I’m glad I caught them and next time I will be on time to see their whole set.

The second band Saturday was The Cassettes — also affiliated with Buddyhead, you can download some songs and concerts and stuff here. I saw the Cassettes quite a few years ago but now they are pretty much a completely different band. Kinda weird. They were one of the few bands I’ve ever seen with a thereminist, maybe the first band I’ve seen with a kazoo and were definitely the first I’ve seen that used jew’s harp at any point (though I hear Daniel Higgs is performing with jew’s harp so maybe it’s coming back). I liked a lot of the songs but I wasn’t too crazy about the schtick… dressing up old-timey and stuff… it was okay but when they played basic rock songs it was the best. Here’s a good one, “Lady Faire”, in performance a while back at Crooked Beat:

The last performer was Benjy Ferree. I hadn’t seen him before but I was vaguely familiar with his music. He has been getting tons of hype both in the indie-music blog scene and in DC among the musical community. I had heard a few songs before and I am pretty sure I recognized some during his performance. He plays pretty much straightforward rock with some cowboy/alt-country/folk influence. I was a little disappointed. He seems like a nice guy and he was pretty charismatic, and people seemed to like him, but I didn’t find the music all that interesting. I was willing to maybe jump on the bandwagon, but seeing him live (even with a pretty great band backing him up) didn’t quite do it for me. I’ll give him another chance sometime — I’ll probably end up meeting him through those degrees of separation — but for the moment I remain skeptical about him and about all of this folk-infused pseudo-indie rock. I mean, I like the Prairie Home Companion and everything, but I can’t shake all those years of hard rock specializing…

On the other hand, there is this pretty awesome interview that Ian Svenonius did with Benjy Ferree: