Save Our Stages: Reignwolf and JJ Wilde at U Street Music Hall in Washington, DC, 8/10/19

During this period of historic uncertainty, the fight for the survival of our independent record stores is directly mirrored by the dark stages of our local independent theatres, clubs, and performance spaces which have been shuttered due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s been cited as well that 90% of these concert venues may never, ever return.

Enter the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) whose #SaveOurStages campaign has provided a spotlight on this perilous predicament with a unique mission to “preserve and nurture the ecosystem of independent live music venues and promoters throughout the United States.” Without help from Congress the predictions are indeed quite dire and TVD encourages you support the S. 3814/H.R. 7481, the RESTART Act, by telling your legislators to save independent music venues via the form that can be filled out and forwarded right here.

This week as we did last week, we’re turning our own spotlight onto previous live concert coverage as a reminder of the need to preserve the vitality of live music venues across the country—and indeed across the globe—and while we’re at it to celebrate the work of the fine photographers and writers at TVD who are all itching to get back into the pit. 

On Saturday, August 10, Reignwolf, with support from JJ Wilde, brought their headlining tour to an intimate crowd at Washington DC’s U Street Music Hall in support of the band’s new album Hear Me Out. Stirring up fans with their charisma and blistering fuzzy blues rock, they tore through the roughly hour-long set of new songs and old favorites, leaving fans and themselves worn out and sweaty.

Reignwolf (songwriter/singer/guitarist Jordan Cook, bassist S.J. Kardash, and drummer Joseph Braley) released Hear Me Out, the band’s first LP, in March. Prior to this, Reignwolf had only released a handful of singles over seven years, developing an enthusiastic following while maintaining an air of mystery among fans.

This mysterious air was underscored in the darkened, underground room at U Street Music Hall. The band played shrouded in smoke and back-lit by bright white lights, allowing those in attendance to see Cook and Karsdash in silhouette, and Braley not at all. No matter, as songs like the ferocious “Wanna Don’t Wanna” and Gary Clark Jr-ish “Black and Red” were loud and energetic as the blazing fires of Hell. During those moments when Cook emerged from the smoke and could be seen, he revealed a look that calls to mind 1970s Bruce Springsteen or even a black leather-clad Cat Stevens, while the band’s sound could be compared to Jack White, the aforementioned Gary Clark Jr, or the barely contained insanity of Black Pistol Fire.

The set’s closer, “Fool’s Gold”, featured a Reignwolf trademark: playing from the audience. Drummer Braley, perched at a full drum kit parked in the audience, pounded away while Cook played guitar standing on the bass drum. At their side was Kardash, who tapped away a beat on Cook’s guitar with a drumstick. Surrounding them were the fans, chanting along with the chorus.

Good stuff.

Complementing Reignwolf was the show’s opener, Canadian alt rocker JJ Wilde. The fiery vocalist and her four-piece backing band filled U Street Music Hall’s tight stage. Whipping and stomping through a tidy half hour set, they performed songs from Wilde’s debut EP, “Wilde Eyes and Steady Hands,” including her single “State of Mind,” a young woman’s ode to independence. Wilde, true to her name, gave a sweaty and energetic performance befitting a singer-songwriter on the rise.

JJ WILDE

JJ WILDE SETLIST
Wired
Cold Shoulder
State of Mind
Knees
Gave it All
The Rush
Trouble

REIGNWOLF SETLIST
Over and Over
Alligator
Black and Red
Hardcore
Keeper
Monster
Old Man
Wanna Don’t Wanna
Juicebox (instrumental)
Are You Satisfied
Palms to the Sky
Fool’s Gold

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