TVD Live: War on
Drugs with Caveman
and Paperhaus at
Red Palace, 9/2

Going to shows alone is so much better than drinking alone in the house of boredom, where the reality of just how insignificant your life really is, is crystallized by a bottle of bourbon. H Street’s Red Palace is a comfortable respite from the insecurities associated with curling up to a bottle and a movie on a Friday night. The familiar face of your local bartender and a sold out show can curate the perfect evening for the solo show goer.

For those who attended the sold out War on Drugs show this past Labor day weekend, whether they arrived eight friends deep or rolled up with a partner in crime, the show’s line-up, including openers Caveman from Brooklyn and DC’s Paperhaus, guaranteed anything but a boring evening of desperation and despair.

Oh, stop being so fucking emo, you must be thinking. Luckily, I wasn”t alone for long, as I was eventually joined by my P.I.C for the evening, the effervescent Liz Gorman, who graciously agreed to photograph the evening’s festivities.

War on Drugs were amazing, though I admit I was destracted during thier set because I was chatting with Caveman’s guitarist. They channel Springsteen’s passion, even busting out a harmonica during a few songs. It’s funny, in my thirties, I’ve found an appreciation for classic American rock that I just didn’t have as an angsty emo teenager.

There is a guy in the audience in a “Team Dude” t-shirt, looking old enough to be my dad drinking a beer. WoD front man Adam Granduciel announces it is drummer Mike Zanghi’s birthday. Turns out his father and mother are in the audience, Team Dad!

For the few songs I was able to take in, I jotted down Sonic Youth as a reference point because at times songs had Thurston Moore’s labyrinthine guitar, and I have read a few reviews that mention the influence of My Bloody Valentine. Noisy, at times even psychedelic, fuzz is what set War on Drugs apart from being just classic rock, even if Adam Granduciel’s vocals are very Bob-Dylan-meets-Kurt-Vile (who used to be in the band). Though I have never seen Tom Petty live, these guys might give him a run for his money for the title of best live show. If you are bummed you missed them this time around, they are touring again in October, so keep an eye out.

The room filled up quickly, kinda like my Facebook newsfeed fills up with PMA status updates. While Caveman set up, I immediately made note of the two drum sets on stage, and the beautiful vintage guitar that my polka dot soul mate was cradling. I happened to be wearing a red dress with white polka dots that night, while Caveman’s guitarist was clad in a black shirt with white polka dots, which later that evening I discovered was made by a close friend of his.

Huge sweeping harmonies and lush guitars ignite the stage like a sunset over ocean waves, but there is nothing languid about the tribal drums that beat over each song, like thunder rolling in. Brooklyn’s latest buzzband are well deserving of the praise they are getting; there is magic in Jimmy “Cobra” Carbonetti and Matthew Iwanusa’s swirling paisley underground guitars that capture the glory of The Chills. Sam Hopkin’s synthesizer contributes to Caveman reaching the same sweeping emotive heights of OMD’s “Souvenir” and “Maid of Orleans.”

After Caveman finished, Red Palace was jammed full of folks, and I was somehow pushed to the side of the stage behind next to the merch table and eventually behind it. The girl working the merch table was really sweet. I don’t even think I caught her name, but she let me stand next to her where I could jot notes and take pics. This provided me the opportunity to speak to Jimmy (my polka dot soulmate) for a little bit because she graciously introduced us. Lovely merch girl told me that “Cobra” hand crafts his own guitars. “You mean the one he was playing on stage that I was drooling over?” I ask, and she confirms.

Jimmy has his own guitar shop in NYC, called Cobra Guitars. The shop has been open in Brooklyn for two years now, and he has hand crafted 22 guitars since. He works with craft master and Montreal resident Brian Montey. All the wood for the guitars is imported from Canada. These lovely guitars have a vintage quality to them, as Jimmy preserves all the natural wood grain. Currently, Jimmy is working on guitar #22, The Cave Goat, inspired by blues guitarist Billy Gibbins of ZZ Top.

When I asked where all the Caveman merchandise was, Jimmy reminded me that vinyl lovers Caveman have a self-produced album coming out, CoCo Beware on their own label, Magic Man Records/ORG Music, released on November 15th (digital September 13th). Then he did something really cool, invited me backstage to do a shot of tequila. He proceeds to show me some other beautiful guitars, including one with a gorgeous cowboy painted on it. The guys are really pumped about their awesome show (every right to be), so I slip out to catch some of War on Drugs’ set.

Paperhaus opened the show with rockabilly-influenced songs with an unexpected patchwork of influences, including garage, noise, dub, moulded into a confident and solid set. They played a couple songs off their self-titled EP, which will be released soon at “The Paperhaus,” a recurring spot for DC house shows.

Photo/Video Credit: Liz Gorman

This entry was posted in TVD Washington, DC. Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.

  • Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text
  • Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text