TVD Live: Friends
and Ganglians at
Red Palace, 11/15

On Tuesday at the Red Palace, Samantha Urbani, lead vocalist of Friends, stepped onto the stage and coyly beckoned us, “Come up here.”

The show was sadly in sparse attendance, a victim of a long weekend of debauchery in the District, cruddy weather, and the Tinarwen/AIH/DOM powerhouse going on at 9:3o Club, but I’d been listening to “I’m His Girl” for a month, love me some Ganglians, whom the Brooklyn five-piece had just begun supporting on tour that night, and was not about to miss it.

We shyly obeyed Urbani and moved close to the stage. She is lovely, a sex kitten indie vixen, and we all had a “Friend Crush” by the end of the night, still gushing the following day about the show. Local rock heavy Patrick Kigongo of Ra Ra Rasputin and The State Department tells me, “Girls love jangly guitars and good bass lines,” and the night was not lacking for either. Bassist/vocalist Lesley Hann was especially a standout amongst the excellent multi-instrumentalists (we all crushed on her too), moving from keys to bass as Matthew Molnar and Nikki Shapiro alternately rocked keys, guitar, bass, and drums.

Random side notes: I love that drummer Oliver Duncan wore his shades all night, and Shapiro has a Mo-vember ‘stache to be envied by Oates of Hall & Oates. Also, both bands were absolutely enamored with the whiskey tasting they’d attended prior to the show nearby at The Pug. Lastly, try googling “Friends band” and see how frustrated you get. Pro-tip: All of their media is listed under either “afriendszone” or “sdneirfbackwards”; try googling those.

Friends channel Brooklyn well, playing indie pop for the smart, edgy ingenue, including the two songs previously mentioned, along with “Feelin Dank” and their cover of Ghost Town DJs’ “My Boo,” for which the crowd was clamoring by the end of their set. (Kigongo yells, “This shit should be on HOT97!” Urbani replies, “I wish it was on HOT97!”) Urbani jumps off stage several times and endears herself to the audience, dancing with several of them, including me (!) and Kigongo, who then offers up fellow State Departmenter Michael Medlock’s house for the after party, in jest. Good times.

If Friends are distinctly Brooklyn, then likewise, headliners Ganglians are quintessential Cali post-punk garage rock, conjuring images of skatesurfing empty pools to Beach Boys tunes. I’d seen them before at one of the Woodsist/Captured Tracks festivals at Broadway Backyard—I remember cracking Schwarzenegger jokes to their very kind bassist, since they’re from Sacramento—but the indoor venue on Tuesday suited them much better than the Brooklyn DIY venue set under train tracks.

Surprisingly nice (for psych rockers) three-part harmonies bounced off the red walls during their powerful set, which included “100 Years” (dedicated to “Becky”), a spaghetti Western anthem that featured stalking guitars, and the straight-up jam “My House” (dedicated to whomever would let them stay at their house that night, as they were currently homeless). After this show, I wanted to fly straight to San Francisco—Sacramento is close enough—which I’ve deemed my personal mecca of garage rock, and bemoaned that, as usual, DC was missing out.

As I’m buying my 7″s after the show at the merch table, the first guy with whom Urbani danced says that Friends can stay at his place any time they are in town. And did I mention that she designed the covers of both 7″s herself? Her arty portrait graces “Friend Crush,” although the sexy cover of “I’m His Girl” is not her, but a friend. We all want her to be our best friend, our boo, our girl.

She sings songs with sassy lyrics like “I want you to come over to my house,” and “Oh boring sexy guy,” that make me wish that a full-length had been released already. (Guys, please get on that.) But perhaps she says it best in the swaggering bubblegum track “I’m His Girl,” which is actually about open relationships:

So, if you love someone 
Let them be free 
I know I don’t want no one suffocating me

Don’t settle for ownership 
Make it deep 
If you love someone 
You should feel good 
To let them breathe 

We love you guys—“It’s all about affection/ Not possession with us.” Go out into the world, make some more hits, and come back to us here in DC. Samantha Urbani, you’re not just another chic, you’re our girl.

Photos by Idit Knaan



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